I was just asked a few research questions from a university student. I thought I might as well share my answers with you as well. Good luck on your paper, Alicia!
1. How do you come to discover the Palestinian situation?
Well, I was raised Quaker, which is to say that I was raised to believe strongly in social justice and peace. I knew a number of people who had spent time in Palestine and went to a college with a significant number of Palestinian students. I first visited in 2005 and fell immediately in love with Palestine, but my heart was broken by what I saw. It was clear, though, that Palestinians in the West Bank were articulating a few well-defined ways that internationals could support their struggle. I wanted to be a part of that.
2. Do you feel more or less hopeful now about a Palestinian state and peace in general since you first went to the holy land?
I feel just as hopeful as I did four years ago, but far less optimistic. I say that because I think hope is a decision more than an emotion. Hope is about faith and I still agree with Dr King, who
said "the moral arc of the universe is long but it bends towards justice." I don't think that the region will, in the long run, have any choice but to become a society based on justice and peace. I agree with Ali Abunimah's analysis in One Country. But I worry that the short term doesn't look good. The new Israeli government has been really hard on Tuwani. The most striking change is that the army seems to be colluding with the settlers even more and is willing to arrest Palestinians for anything they can come up with. I hadn't seen shepherds getting arrested just for being out with their sheep, but now it's happening regularly. Jail sentences are getting longer and fines higher. It's clear they're trying to shut down Palestine's nonviolent movement. Moreover, Obama is bowing to Israel's wishes regarding settlements and that's pretty scary.
3. What do you think political leaders/decision-makers are overlooking in trying to reach the two state solution?
Wow, a lot. First, they're over-looking the Palestinian nonviolent resistance movement. This is the movement that most Palestinians are involved in, in some way or another. Violent resistance is actually abnormal by comparison. Secondly, they're overlooking international law, which is a clear guide for a just solution. Perhaps most importantly, they're overlooking the right of return. Until Palestinians are afforded their rights, I don't think that a just solution is possible. Lastly, it's the settlements, stupid, as they say. A disengagement of the West Bank is crucial. But I don't think my opinions on this really matter all that much. Everyday Palestinians need meaningful representation at the table. Their dreams and needs are being overlooked and that needs to stop.
4. In his recent speech to Cairo, Obama encouraged Israelis and Palestinians to see each other as victims (historically). Do you agree with his statement?
The more compassion we can all have for one another the better. But Obama mostly really missed the point in that speech. Here's our response to it: