Thursday, May 5, 2016

Reflection 7

I have learned quite a lot from this course that I did not believe I would. In my first reflection I stated that I wanted to gain an appreciation for the Arab culture that so many of my friends fail to do because of blind prejudice. And that is exactly what I did. I learned the Arab side of reasoning for the current conflict between arab and Israeli people. I learned of the language, the traditions, the religion. I saw beautiful architecture and art in the mosque in DC. I learned what many people I know refuse to because of the stereotypes. I've always been aware of stereotypes, being jewish and prejudiced against my whole life because so, I could see it happening to my arab friends as well. But I never saw the ruthless extent to which it pervaded their lives. This course taught me everything and more I wanted to learn about the culture, oppression, and people that I knew very little about but wanted to for the sake of non-ignorance. And that is exactly what this course taught me, by showing me literature, movies, guest speakers and events, effectively giving me a semi-submerssive experience. I truly learned so much about a people that I previosuly never thought I would. Thank you Dr. Esa, it has been a pleasure.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Weekly Report 7

For this report I researched Sheldon Adelson, a very prominent Arab-American business man. He owns many casinos and therefore has a lot of money with which to allocate to various possible organizations. Recently he has pandered to Republicans, reportedly backing Newt Gingrich in 2012. Although he is Arab, he is not in fact Muslim. He is actually Jewish, having some incredibly strict ideas and conceptions about what the Israeli people should do to counteract the Palestinians desiring a nationhood. In fact, he is incredibly afraid of the Palestinians getting control. This is very interesting, as a stereotypical Arab would be Muslim and support the Palestinian revolution. However, Adelson instead is a Jewish man looking forward to the demise of the Palestinian people. What is even stranger to me is the fact that he is a Republican. Most of the Jews I know are in fact Democrats or libertarians, because American Republicans are seen as more conservative and Democrats as being much more diverse and open to change. Yet Adelson is incredibly conservative, and even anti-Arabic. At one point he suggested dropping a nuclear bomb into Iraw as a show of strength so the United States could have an easier time invading if needed and knock out any Arabic or Palestinian rebellions. Overall, Sheldon Adelson is an interesting Arab-American politician, who breaks the norm, or stereotype, of being an Arab-American. http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/4/sheldon-adelson-republicanpartypolitics.html

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Weekly Report 6

Alaa al Aswany is an Egyptian author who has a lot of influence on the Arab world and Egypt through his novels, such as "The Yacoubian Building." His novels shed a truly real light on the Arab world, especially Egypt, and that is exactly why he has became so influential. Aswany has been basically nixed from any and all media in Egypt because his beliefs and works go against that of the current Egyptian president al-Sisi. Al-Sisi has made it very well known and public that you are not allowed to speak against the government. Instead of abiding by this ruling Aswany is forced to write everything through social media, one of the only forms of media not censored by the Egyptian government. In America, we have the right to pretty much completely uncensored material in nearly every facet of our lives. But in Egypt, they run everything as if conflict in opinions could completely shatter the government to the detriment of the government rather than the people. So the government cancels Aswany's events and blocks him on all sites and does whatever they can to make sure that their people do not listen to or try to take offense against the government for the actions that Aswany  brings light to. He was even brought to court, so the government is taking his words and turning them into punishable offenses. This is the more stereotypical kind of view about the Arab world, or at least of the governments within them. Yet even still, their actions are not radical as one would believe from the media's interpretation of the Arab world. They have not assassinated him or threatened his life. While this censorship may be heinous on many accounts, the Egyptian government is at least not attempting to silence him world-wide by murdering him. Doing so would stop the anti- al-ASis speech from Answany directly, but it certainly would start an even more vicious civil war between the government and the many people that have read Answany's works and posts.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/dec/11/egypt-shuts-down-novelist-alaa-al-aswanys-public-event-and-media-work

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Reflection 5

Considering the field trip that we went on to the Arab World centers, the Jerusalem Fund and Palestinian Center gave me a good idea on how to possibly settle the current Israeli-Arab conflict. One of the biggest concerns is that Israel is essentially unchecked because the United Nations cannot vote to enforce any consequences against some of the unethical practices the Israeli nation has committed thus far to the Palestinians all because the American government has repeatedly voted to vote pro-Israel. And since the UN relies on the American vote to act on anything, I think that the best course of action would probably be to set up another Camp David summit. However, the goal should be to make the PLO, the now official representative of the Palestinian people and the Israeli government sit down with the counsel of the American government and figure out a solution. The original Camp David Accords merely set up shaky grounds for further debates, but a full treaty is now necessary. While the American government becoming involved may seem like a risky choice, their vote is the only thing holding back any intervention from the national community, and considering current events, it is finally effecting more and more parts of the world outside of the current Israeli occupied areas. Sitting down all three of these parties and aiming to finally find a resolution between the territory, ruling powers, and transport to and from the middle east needs to be discussed in person, with the goal of finding a solution. Everyone needs to put their national egos aside and do what is right and safe for their people, so that the attacks stop on both ends, and for the sake of the Arab-Israeli relationship.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Reflection 5

This field trip was incredible! I learned so much about the Arab World! I learned that while there are certainly connections between all the Arab states, they still have so many differences! I loved the Tunisian embassy because it was interesting, yet the Qatar embassy was even more interesting! The economic differences were staggering. I thought that was an accurate representation of the diversity of not just the Arab world, but the whole world. I especially enjoyed the Islamic Center. I have never been in a mosque, but it was so interesting and unique. I had a tough time understanding our speaker's accent, for which I really am ashamed, because I really feel like I may have missed some interesting facts. Overall I had so much trouble paying attention because of the beautiful art all over the walls and ceiling. I think this experience truly enriched my Arab World experience because it allowed inspection from within the actual culture, rather than studying it from afar as we do almost every day in class. Being able to say that I stepped into other countries is also really interesting, and I am proud to say it was into the Arab World.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Reflection 3

Last evening I attended the Massamba Diop event. First off, it was an incredible experience. It was certainly not like any kind of western musical performance I have attended. Musically there was clearly a huge emphasis on percussion instruments and creating a rhythm to dance to. It seems that the music is meant to be danced to, not merely listened to, which is why it was so incredibly interactive. In western music, percussion is generally used to keep a beat for other brass or string instruments to play along to, which you can see in Jazz, Rock and Roll, and other string or brass heavy musical genres. Since there was not a lot of singing, they instead used a Tamba, which they said was like a speaking instrument. And it was really quite fascinating to listen to. As a child I played the drums and would try to make weird, almost narrative sounds from the drum set I owned, but never could I get the loud, vocal reverberations which the tall man, since I forget his name, was able to produce. They also played a whistle and a large harp like instrument which were also very interesting to listen to, as played by themselves or with other instruments, they created such a unique sound. I liked the walawalo song, as it was fun to sing and dance and be a part of the music. It's not a type of music to listen to, but a type of music to be a part of and feel, and the musicians made that very clear, basically forcing people to get up and dance with them. The other part I was really fond of was when Tony performed his poetry. It was very peaceful to listen to his speech about everyone being from Africa, and it made a lot of sense. While it might not be our direct heritage, we owe all of our existence to Africa, and to not listen and be a part of the culture would be to deny that a long, long, long time ago, we really were from Africa.  This experience was eye-opening, fun, and I hope they or a group such as this one come to visit McDaniel soon.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Weekly Report 3: Arab Musician

For this article, I had to spend quite a lot of time just finding the article. In American newspapers, it would appear that Arab Musicians are incredibly overlooked throughout their world-view. I did happen upon an article about Mohammed Assaf, who is young, famous, and luckily for this report, was in the news. Two and a half years ago, June of 2013, he won the competition known as "Arab Idol" which is essentially American Idol for the Arab world. He was born in Libya and was raised in a very poor camp. Bare utilities were very hard to find for him at a young age. He actually snuck onto the television show, having had lots of trouble getting to Cairo where the auditions were being held, so he had to find a less than orthodox method of getting into the auditions. Another Palestinian actually had to give up his own opportunity so that Assaf could have his shot at glory. He won the competition,  but instead of simply enjoying the music, people began trying to make it seem like he was doing it for political reasons. A Palestinian winner would look good for all Palestinians, so at one of the shows Hamas, a Palestinian terrorist organization, rallied to support him, which was not exactly what he desired for his career. Assaf stated later that he was not trying to be a political figure, just a musician, and that instead of supporting Palestine against others, that Palestinian music should be celebrated as just that: Palestinian music. Mohammed Assaf is a selfless singer, performing out of the goodness of his heart, trying to make oppressed people happy for a while.


http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2013/08/20138134222260693.html 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Reflection 2

Today in class we learned all about the Islamic legacy of Spain from Dr. Deveny. In 711 the Visigoths maintained control of Spain. They were Catholic as compared to the Arabic soon to be conquerors. Cordoba was the most important city in the world at the time, so Islam's takeover of this city was very significant, it showed that Islam had the power to in a sense, takeover the most important aspects of the world. Musa and Tariq were Arabic leaders that lead the Islamic conquest. Tariq took the initial venture into Spain, commanded to do so by his general Musa. The Rock of Gibraltar is in fact named after the place where he initially landed on the peninsula in 711. The siege was so successful because in Islam, death is not to be feared, but welcomed in service of Allah, and so they were much more aggressive and therefore more effective in combat against the Visigoths. Al-Andalus is the name of this Arabic tribe that Tariq and Musa led into battle. These leaders led their troops all the way across the peninsula, and their ancestors eventually crossed the treacherous Pyrenees to try and overtake France as well. Here they were finally stopped in 732 in a battle against Frankish catholics, led by a man named Charles. On their road to dynasty, the Muslim rule took Malaga, Jaen, and most importantly, Cordoba, as well as many, many other cities. In Cordoba most notably there was built "La Mezquita" the largest and most profound western mosque to date. Malaga and Jaen are both incredibly important as well because they were essentially port cities, which in the future aided to progress the Arabic trade and flow of culture. Within "La Mezquita" in Corboda were stereotypical Arabic-Muslim architectural standards. As in all mosques, there is a mihrab, a wall which faces and points towards mecca for prayer and caligraphy in place of any and all person or animal drawings.The mozarabs were hispanic people who became Islamic, and/or Arabic people, and they are who would most use the mosques throughout Spain that the Islamic dysnasty had inspired. Aside from the elite and astonishing "La Mezquita," Cordoba was also home to an incredibly impressive library. There rumored to have been over 400,000 books, astonishing considering the fact that every single book was hand written, and most other libraries at the time were considered incredibly wealthy in knowledge if they had 12 books. The language throughout the books, as well as theories and ideas were passed through Arabic techniques, one of the many ways Arabic-Muslims influenced the culture. For example, the letters that the Spanish people would grow to use were based upon the Arabic concept of letter organization, that of assigning meaning to a written letter. Also, they influenced the adaptation of Arab numerals into the Spanish language. Since the Spanish people had previously used roman numerals, a rather complex system, the Arabic numerals proved to simply and accelerate the study of mathematics. Thanks to the expansion of the Muslim and Islamic cultures, Spain became more advanced, diverse, and culturally rich.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Weekly Report 1

This week I read "Thousands of Syrians brave cold, rain at Turkish border" from the Al-Jazeera online newspaper. Doing so I learned that Turkey has decided to begin letting in Syrian refugees. These refugees in particular are fleeing from Aleppo, a city under rebel control. The reason they have to run from their homes is because the Syrian government has launched an offensive in an attempt to rid the area of rebels. The Syrian offensive is being supplemented with Russian air strikes, and so the civilians who want to be safe are trying to escape the country. There are tens of thousands of refugees trying to escape, and the Turkish government is allowing some people through. However, they are not allowing everyone through so the majority of them are still in Syria, but Turkey is preparing to allow more, if not all of them,through.. The fact that these people need to flee from their own government is deplorable. The need to drive out the rebels may seem necessary to the government, but their actions only show that the government needs to be overthrown. The kind of government that would sacrifice its own civilians for the sake of political control is not a government that should be responsible for anyone. That should be incredibly difficult for civilians, to have to pick between supporting a government that would put them at risk, and an armed force that hides among them to take advantage of this faulty government. It's no wonder the Syrians are fleeing the country, these two forces should simply be left alone to essentially fight it out, without the use of civilian coverage.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/02/thousands-syrians-brave-cold-rain-turkish-border-160206124040963.html

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Studying the Arab World

I chose to study the Arab world, because I am Jewish, and within the Jewish Youth Community, there seems to be a lot of anti-Arabic sentiment because of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict going on. I saw lots of friends turn anti-Arabic when they began to learn of the struggle between the two groups of people, and I want to learn more, because I refuse to commit to two things when it comes to people. The first thing is committing to hating an entire group of people. The other is accepting a lack of education in the face of adversary, and it seemed like the Jewish people I knew, who were once rational people decided to blindly follow Israeli-propaganda because, and I quote, "We are Jews and these are our people." Prior to 9/11 I had no views on the Arab world  because I was too young to have opinions any different than "I like ice cream and hate coloring books." But as I grew up I came to realize that people held a disdain for people who did not do anything wrong, because a few extreme terrorists claiming to be Islamic decided to do something awful. That never sat well with me, as I was raised not to judge anyone based on first looks, for instance, the only difference I know between Arabic and Islamic cultures is that one is an entire culture and the other is a religion, so I know I'm not very well-versed on either subject. I expect to get a full understanding and respect for the Arab World, as I believe that it is necessary for all people to know in this time of prejudice and hate, so to educate others from perpetuating awful beliefs and stereotypes.