Monday, September 11, 2006

Have We Tried To Understand?

Even before this date five years ago, I wondered how many people tried to understand, to appreciate the peoples and cultures of Palestine, Israel and the surrounding Arab world. It is no mean task because it is a world of plurals: peoples and cultures. If nothing else, appreciating that not everyone is the same, that we cannot lump all Arabs and all Israelis (some Israelis are Arabs) is a great advance.

One book I have highly recommended is From Beirut To Jerusalem by Thomas L. Friedman. It appeared in 1989. The New York Times had posted Mr. Freidman 10 years in Beirut. The civil war in Lebanon forced him to leave, and so the NYT posted him in Jerusalem. The book is Mr. Friedman's journal of those years, which opened his eyes to many things and began his quest to understand--as readers of his syndicated NYT columns and Discovery-Times television shows appreciate. I believe that the average, born-here American citizen can profit much from reading From Beirut To Jerusalem by Thomas L. Friedman.

Lack of understanding and simplistic responses seem to have reigned these five years. In his prescient, 12 September 2001, "A Quick Reponse," Mr. Noam Chomsky closed by saying that "we have a choice: we may try to understand, or refuse to do so, contributing to the likelihood that much worse [than the tragedy of 9/11] lies ahead."

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