Personal Accounts of the Middle East Conflict

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Personal Accounts of the Middle East Conflict

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For most people who do not live in the Middle East, the conflicts that have disrupted life in that region over the last century have been little more than reports in newspapers and magazines and on television. News stories about the dueling claims to land that set Israeli Jews against Palestinians; about the questions over whether nations in the Middle East should be secular or religious; about the tensions that exist between conservative Islamic values and the modernizing trends brought by Western commercialism; and about the lingering hatred many Arabs bear toward the West because of the West's long history of involvement in Middle Eastern affairs are often impersonal and fail to convey the misery and hardships of everyday life in the region. Instead these stories usually detail troop movements in combat zones, distant bombings, and the cautious relief of political figures who have shaken hands with an opponent after signing a peace treaty.

However, to those people who live in the Middle East, have relatives in Middle Eastern countries, or have recently visited the region, these conflicts are not merely stories in a newspaper or on the evening news. They are daily events that shape and change lives in dramatic ways. To a Palestinian living in a village in Israeli-occupied territory, these conflicts are represented by soldiers in the street or a security checkpoint on the road to a neighbor's house. To an Israeli mother whose son has gone off to serve his required time in the Israeli army, each newscast is a chance to see her son or to hear news of his wellbeing. To an American reporter taken hostage and held for years, Islamic fundamentalism is not an abstract threat, but a bearded young man bringing food twice a day.

In this chapter, the conflict in the Middle East will be presented in very personal ways by several different people who have experienced it firsthand. Some of these people commit violent acts in response to events in the Middle East. Soha Bechara is a Christian Lebanese woman who was imprisoned for her attempted assassination of a military leader in Lebanon. Era Rapaport is an Israeli settler jailed for helping to plant a bomb under the vehicle of a Palestinian town mayor. Others turned to political means to make a personal impact on the Middle East conflict. Meir Kahane is an American-born Jew whose belief in Zionism, the idea of creating a stable independent Jewish state in Palestine, brought him to Israel. There he became convinced of the necessity for a radical solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. His solution got him elected to the Israeli Knesset (legislature) and then thrown into an Israeli prison. Sumaya Farhat-Naser is a Palestinian activist whose efforts to bring about peace were frustrated by Israeli occupation. Still others were drawn into the conflict in the Middle East as pawns in the larger issues that have torn the region apart. Terry Anderson is an American journalist who was held hostage in Lebanon for more than six years by an Iranian-supported Islamic terrorist group. It is through these accounts that the true personal impacts of the various conflicts in the Middle East can be seen.

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Personal Accounts of the Middle East Conflict

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