December 15, 1999
I have been living here in Tel Aviv, Israel for almost three months now. The weather is beautiful every day. The city streets are full of busy people moving about, as in any major city in America. People seem pretty friendly and Israel has been a very pleasant place for me to stay and rest before rejoining the Trek Team. I can't help but think that there must be more to this place than the everyday routine would suggest.
The theme of our Israel/Palestine Stage is "The Nature of Conflict." As you can easily guess, this implies that there are at least two groups in or around Israel/Palestine that see things so differently that a conflict has been created that's big enough to be the focus of our stay here. But the conflict we're talking about actually includes many different parties and involves countless more views that are all in conflict with one another. It is seen as an old conflict and yet it is also a relatively new one. And likewise, it may be considered only one conflict for some, but a combination of several conflicts in the minds of many others.
Perhaps you've already heard the conflict described as being: "Arab-Israeli", "Arab-Jewish", "Israeli-Palestinian", "Right Wing-Left Wing", or "Secular-Religious". Or maybe you've even known the conflict more broadly as, "The Conflict in the Middle East" or "The Middle East Peace Process." Whatever its name, this conflict is far from being a simple one. It's practically impossible for any one person or group to single-handedly solve it, at least not within any short period of time.
Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, and even before, the conflict has always involved numerous struggles by all of the groups concerned. These groups have been struggling for (or against): their homes and their land, statehood, recognition as a people, national territory, security, natural resources, the "Right of Return", protection of borders, political recognition, national sovereignty, discrimination, compensation, human rights, religious beliefs, terrorism, civil rights, economic improvements, democracy, justice, and peace just to name a few. Over the years these groups have refused to recognize each other's existence, they have fought wars, made peace, become victims and oppressors, exercised force and diplomacy, and have coexisted in a state of tension or harmony leading us to the present day.
The entire world has remained consistently focused on the conflict concerning Israel/Palestine for decades. The United States and its Cold War adversary, the USSR, invested unfathomable resources into the region (economic, military, diplomatic etc.). In addition to these two, many other nations have also exerted influence in the Middle East, such as England and France and many of the Arab states.
So, just what is the conflict we're talking about then? Well, I won't attempt to answer that with one simple sentence as an end to this dispatch. Instead, I invite you as always to continue with me and the rest of the Odyssey World Trek Team as we embark on our exploration of the many people and perspectives in Israel/Palestine that make this conflict such a complex and enduring one.
p.s. - Please e-mail me at ...email@example.com
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