Lesson 11: Israelis and Palestinians

We end our tour of West Asia and the Middle East in the most complex and conflict-ridden part of a complex and conflict-ridden region–Israel. Or, because we want to explore both Jewish and Arab music and culture in and around the nation of Israel, should we say, “Israel and the Occupied Territories?” Or, is “Occupied Territories” the appropriate term? The United Nation uses “Occupied Palestinian Territories” when discussing the West Bank, Gaza and the contested parts of East Jerusalem. Is that right? Or, should we say, “Israel and Palestine,” even though “Palestine” doesn’t technically exist as a sovereign state. So maybe we should say “Palestinian Territories…?” But what of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank? And what of the highly contested parts of East Jerusalem…? See, we haven’t even survived a paragraph without twisting ourselves in uncomfortable knots. Our task at hand is to look beyond the many, many things that separate people in the region and focus on the many things that unify them. Can we do that? We’ll see.

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