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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Generation Y optimism for an age-old conflict

    Marian Lacycolumnist
    Marian Lacy
    columnist

    Editor’s note: Marian Lacy will be writing biweekly columns this semester from Nazareth, Israel, where she will be working at a hospital.

    I once cut my knuckle with a razor. Actually, it didn’t hurt; I didn’t even notice until I saw blood dripping down my hand. Then I fainted.

    Given my queasiness upon seeing my own blood, why am I going to volunteer in a hospital 10 miles from the West Bank? First of all, I have a much stronger stomach when it comes to other people’s blood – but clearly, I’m not an emergency surgeon. I can clean a wound and take blood pressure, but anything more complicated than that intimidates me.

    So why listen to me this semester? Well, even though I may not qualify as an expert on Middle East health care conditions, I’m a student with a typical UA lifestyle, and changing my lifestyle and location will change me. And trying to express this personal growth in writing effects its own transformation.

    I’m not writing solely to provide facts or opinions. We are inherently interested in other human beings and their stories. While we have all the cold hard facts about the Middle East – where a suicide bomber hit, how many civilians were killed, who claimed responsibility – we know little about the lives of Palestinians and Israelis: what they learn at school; how they worship at church, mosque and synagogue; where they eat, buy groceries and get married.

    I want to go to Nazareth because it is often forgotten. A usually peaceful town with a mostly Palestinian and Israeli Arab population, it receives little attention from the international media or the Israeli government. According to Time magazine, it is the largest Arab city within Israel, with a sizable Christian minority. Its relative peacefulness means that because it lacks the routine explosions and violence that draw the attention of the mainstream media, the rest of the world – America especially – knows little about it.

    Israeli Arabs who became Israeli citizens after Israel’s establishment in 1948 sometimes complain they are treated as second-class citizens. They often face discrimination in finding housing and jobs. Especially after the intifada of 2000, the Israeli government neglected to maintain roads, build infrastructure or increase security in Nazareth. Nazarenes have often had to clean up their own streets and rebuild their own schools because the Israeli government has been remiss in providing funds for such necessities.

    I should mention that I don’t expect to be impartial, although I do aim to be accurate and fair. Anyone who has spent time in the Middle East will form opinions about who the victims are and who is to blame in the various conflicts that often overlap. My mother was born in Beirut, Lebanon, and her family immigrated to the U.S. because of the tension in the region. I’ve developed sympathy for the Palestinians cause because I think they are often mistreated. They are frequently denied free travel and access to Israeli hospitals, their houses and their land because of settlements, forced evictions and a wall. Of course, many militant anti-Israeli groups are not only egregious in their targeting of Israeli civilians, but they are also injurious to those whom they claim to defend and represent – the Palestinian people.

    I’m not a renowned journalist or a Mideast expert, but I do share our generation’s optimism that we can build cultural bridges and foster understanding. Our campus is brimming with optimism. Student-founded peace groups such as the Tucson Peace Project try to foster dialogue among UA students and Tucsonans on issues pertaining to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. I want to bring some of that intent for goodwill with me. Most treated at the hospital are those who cannot afford or access health care elsewhere, meaning most of them are Palestinian. When I last spoke with the director of the Nazareth Hospital, she said my visit would offer a much-needed dose of encouragement. Palestinians are aware that Americans – or at least their government – support Israeli heavy-handedness.

    In the face of so much violence, suspicion and misunderstanding, I know my blood-drawing and wound-cleaning skills – no matter how stellar – will not transform the Middle East. But I do expect to change myself, and that’s how world-changing starts.

    Marian Lacy is a senior majoring in molecular and cellular biology, Near Eastern studies and English. She can be reached at opinions@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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