Saturday, March 26, 2016

Weekly Report 4: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

On Thursday, March 24, 2016, an Israeli soldier shot a Palestinian man after another soldier sustained minor injuries from a stabbing attack in the Hebron area of the occupied West Bank. This act was caught on film, showing an Israeli soldier being treated for his wounds by medical workers. Off to the side, a Palestinian man is seen lying on the ground, injured but alive, and surrounded by more soldiers. The footage shows one of the soldiers raising his gun and shooting this man in the head. This man, Abed al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif, and another man, Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi, had already been reportedly shot after stabbing a soldier. Both of these men died after being repeatedly shot.

This incident is only one of many in this area that is divided between Israel and Palestine. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has condemned the Israeli soldier’s actions as a “grave breach of IDF values, conduct, and standards of military operations.” However, this type of incident continues to happen in this area, as tensions continue to rise.

Philip Luther, director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International, had stronger words to use on this subject, and said that, "The shooting of a wounded and incapacitated person, even if they have been involved in an attack, has absolutely no justification and must be prosecuted as a potential war crime.”

The concern is that the perpetrator of this crime will go unpunished, based upon similar past events where justice was not meted out. This new act of violence is not good, as it will only serve to further escalate the rising tensions between Israelis and Palestinians. Both sides need to come to some sort of agreement so that the senseless violence can stop and the civilian population.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Reflection 4: Dr. Boukhars' Lecture

Dr. Boukhars’ lecture was extremely informative, and I found the points that he brought up during class very interesting. He started talking about how ISIS, and other groups like ISIS, began after the US invaded Iraq in 2003 due to their war on terror as a result of the events of 9/11. One thing that he made very clear during his talk was that ISIS cannot be defeated unless the Sunni problem is addressed. This is a problem of persecution that drives some of these people to radicalism.

Another of the aspects of the ISIS problem that Dr. Boukhars addressed is how one of the group’s goals is to set the non-radical Muslims against the rest of the Western world. ISIS feeds on sectarianism, Sunni Arab marginalization, and failing regimes. Each act of terrorism creates increased tensions between Muslim communities and the rest of the world, sometimes causing the rest of the world to react negatively toward Muslims. This only contributes to certain groups within these communities to feel like oppressed minorities, which then causes some to join with radical groups and the cycle begins again.

He also talked about the hypocrisy of the West, as often times those in Western countries will mourn persecution and acts of terrorism against countries such as France and Belgium while ignoring the thousands that are slaughtered in Arab countries on a regular basis. At the same time, the US is trying to save face and withdraw from these problems that it has created. Meanwhile, Russia is continuing to bomb peaceful groups of non-ISIS members, causing greater outrage among those communities. Russia is free to do such things because the US refuses to act.

Dr. Boukahrs talked for quite a bit of time about the psychological profiles of some of the members of ISIS. One of the aspects of the profile is a feeling of isolation amongst these radicals. They feel a sense of detachment from their community. They often have a history of delinquency and have gone to prison, as well as participating in drugs. There is also a large number of them that are recent converts. They do not join for religious reasons, but because they are looking for direction, and these groups provide a purpose and a community where they can belong. These new converts then commit acts of terrorism after merely a few months.

I learned a great deal from this lecture, and hope to continue to learn more about these complex issues.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Reflection 3: Drumming Session

Photo courtesy of
Although I had the misfortune to have had an excused previous commitment during the concert, I thoroughly enjoyed when the group visited the class today. The music was so alive and energetic, that though I was very tired it caused me to feel slightly more awake.

I was very interested in learning about the group had to say about the tradition of music from their cultures. I loved the story of the how the man who plays the talking drum  would show up at 6 in the morning at the house of someone who has just been married. He plays to let everyone know that the person has been married and then everyone shows up at 8 for breakfast at the house.

They also talked the tradition of Massamba’s family, and how his family know the history of all of the different families in the area. I do think it is sad that this is being lost with the later generation. Massamba’s sons are not learning the talking drum, and the stories of the past are being lost. Massamba explained that though there will be videos of him on YouTube for years of him playing the talking drum, it will not be the same as others learning to play too. They also talked about technology, and how now when we need to contact someone we use a phone, in the past they would use drums to communicate with those from other villages.

The instruments that they used were very interesting. I loved that the stringed instrument, though when played by itself could be very calming, when paired with the drums was just as lively. Some of the dances and songs seemed to have been played before, but others seemed spontaneous as Massamba went around the room drumming in front of people. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to listen to them explain their music and the importance it holds in their culture.