Thursday, April 28, 2016

Weekly Report 8: Edward Said

Edward Said is considered one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century and spent the majority of his adulthood advocating for the people of Palestine. Edward Said was born on Jerusalem on November 1, 1935. His father was an American citizen who fought in World War I and because of this Said was not allowed to speak Arabic growing up, only English. In 1947 Edward Said and his family moved to Cairo, Egypt permanently, and until he turner 15 he attended Victoria College. When he turned 15 Said headed off the Massachusetts to attend Mount Hermon. He never felt that he was accepted at the boarding school; he did not understand American teaching and did not really have a close group of friends. Post high school, Said went on to study at Princeton University for his bachelor’s degree and then onto Harvard University for his master’s degree and doctorate degree. In 1963 Said went to teach at Columbia University as a professor of English and comparative literature. Said was married two times and has a son and a daughter.

Edward Said’s first book was published in 1966 and titled Joseph Conrad and the Fiction Autobiography. Said co-authored this book with a fellow author named Conrad, a Polish man. His second book, Beginnings: Intention and Method, was written in 1975 and was inspired by the Six-Day War that occurred in the Arab World.  

Said eventually became dissatisfied with the peace making process that was in place. After the Oslo Accord took place Said started to criticize Palestine’s leadership. In 1991 Said resigned from the Palestinian National Council because he thought that they were being too weak in negotiations. Said was eventually nicknamed “professor of terror” when he was photographed throwing a stone at an Israeli guardhouse. In 2002 Edward Said’s leukemia became extremely bad and he worked tirelessly to finish his last books. In 2003 Edward Said passed away, before dying he received many achievements for his literary works. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Weekly Report 7: Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali, originally born Cassius Clay Jr., is most likely one of the most famous boxers, but aside from being an amazing athlete and roll model he is also extremely involved with philanthropy and supporting certain political views. Muhammad Ali was born in Louisville, Kentucky on January 17, 1942. Being raised in the south during a time of segregation is what led Ali to boxing. The writer of the article says, "He wasn't afraid ..." Muhammad Ali's first boxing experience was with a Police Officer Joe Martin who then went on to teach and train Ali in the art of boxing early in his career.  Later on in his career, Muhammad Ali began to show off his cockiness by referring to himself as "the greatest". We all know the quote "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, I am the greatest. Muhammad Ali." In 1960 Ali won the gold medal in the boxing Olympics and then went on to become the heavyweight champion in 1964. Muhammad Ali's health took a turn for the worst in 1984 when he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. But after the diagnosis he dove into philanthropy, which pard the road to him receiving the Presidential Medal of Honor in 2005.

In 1964 Muhammad Ali converted to Islam and joined the black Muslim group. He nicknamed himself Cassius X (because of his birth name) but then went on to change it to Muhammad Ali. In 1967 Ali was called upon to serve in the military during the Vietnam War, but refused on the grounds that he was a practicing Muslim minister and his beliefs kept him from serving. This action led to Ali being suspended from boxing and to him being arrested on felony charges. During his case against the justice department, Ali was stripped of his titles and was not allowed to box at all. He lost three years of his career to this. He lost his case and focused on philanthropy.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Weekly Report 5: United States and Turkey Relations

The relationship between the United States and Turkey is in crisis, but the real issue is that both countries hold a vital level of importance to one another. Recently the president of Turkey visited the United States in order to limit the damage and possibly repair the relations that are still left between Turkey and the United States, but the trip was not as successful and the president would have hoped. Jeffery Goldberg, of The Atlantic, says that President Obama’s opinions of President Erdogan have drastically gone downhill recently. Goldberg says “ that ‘early on’, Obama saw Erdogan ‘as the sort of moderate Muslim leader who would bridge the divide between East and West - but Obama now considers him a failure and an authoritarian, one who refuses to use his enormous army to bring stability to Syria.” One significant issue causing the strain between the United States and Turkey is the Syrian crisis. The Syrian crisis has revealed fundamental differences on both strategy and goals. A main reason why the Turkish have strong opinions on how Syria should be handling the crisis is because the crisis has effected the country, not only with the overflow of Syrian refugees but also with the fact that terrorism has crossed the borders as well. This issue facing Turkey has led to the Turks backing “safe zones” in Syria that would be protected by United States and other allies. President does not agree with this plan because Iraq has been Washington’s main concern according to Jonathan Marcus, diplomatic correspondent for BBC News.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Reflection 5: Israel-Palestine Conflict

With regards to the Israel – Palestine conflict, I believe that the current two – state system should remain as the solution for these two countries and divide up the capital. I believe that this is the best way to solve this issue without a war being started. Now there are some changes that I think should be made. A major issue is that it is very difficult to travel from Palestine to Israel because of the insane procedures; every country does need a border patrol and laws for who and what can come in and out of the country. However, Dr. Zaru told us during her lecture about how there will be times when entire families will attempt to get a visa to cross the border and everyone in the family will be approved for a visa…except one person. Another issue is that even if one receives a visa, there is still a chance that at the border they will be denied entry into the country. This issue has manifested itself in many different ways, but it all leads back to one main issue that I can clearly see…respect. Respect between countries, especially countries that are neighbors that share a capital, is vital. Both countries need each other for support and without it, the current issue will only get worse. Another way that I believe the United States could aid in solving this conflict is to not get involved. This is an issue between two countries that does not involve ours. And if the issue continues to escalate to war, the United States will be involved. This, I believe, will lead to a bigger war because there are many countries that have withdrawn support of Israel and therefore will support Palestine. Overall this is a problem with a tough solution, and the solution is not going to come from just one person. Many people are going to think they have to solution, but overall the solution will be one that comes from the minds of many. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Weekly Report 4: Israel-Palestine Conflict

Recently, the issues between Israel and Palestine have not improved. A soldier, Elor Azraya, is suspected of murder for shooting an immobile unarmed man in the street on March 25, 2016. While there are those that believe that what Azraya did is murder, however, his lawyer is saying that the killing was justified in accordance with the rules of engagement established by his commanding officers. Azraya’s lawyer never specifically gave names on the commanding officers, and since there are multiple superiors whom have all given the shoot order it is hard to tell which officer it was who gave the order.
There have been many people who Dan Cohen, the author for “Israeli officials Who Issued Directive to Execute Palestinians Hang Hebron Killer out to Dry”, has talked to in order to get their point of view and statement on this event. One person being the Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon who stated “Right now is it required to respond quickly to any local attack to eliminate the terrorist stabber or the perpetrator stone thrower and the like, immediately, on the spot,” back in 2015, and just recently he stated “Even as we are forced to fight our enemies and overcome them in battle, we are equally obligated to uphold our mores. To be human.” Another main political figure Cohen had talked to is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who stated “I know that it requires [paramilitary border police units] discretion, but have no doubt: You have complete backing – complete! – from me, from the Israeli government, and in my opinion from the nation in Israel,” in October and is now saying “What happened in Hebron doesn’t represent the values of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). The IDF expects its soldiers to behave level-headedly and in accordance with the rules of engagement.” Lastly, Cohen got the statement of Israeli Military Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot who, in October, said, “Our policy of use of force is very clear. The IDF has complete freedom of action in order to fulfill the mission to restore security,” and is now had a spokesperson say for him, “The chief of staff views the incident with severity and has ordered a full probe. This is not the IDF, these are not the values of the IDF and these are not the values of the Jewish people.” By reading these three quotes, one can see that opinions have changed since October. They believed that giving the border police discretion on when and how to use force was okay until a commanding officer gave an order that they may not have agreed with.
I am not so much shocked at this article as I may have been at some other ones. Being around law enforcement my whole life, and especially now, I have seen a side that not many people see. Officers, both police and military, do what a commanding officer tells them. Also, discretion should be given because the majority of those making the laws to restrict the police’s authority have most likely not been in an officer’s shoes. I do believe that there are lines to be drawn in the sand and that those lines should not be crossed, but we do not know the entire story here. We know one side.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Reflection 4: Dr. Boukhras's lecture

Dr. Boukhars’s lecture was very informative about the fact that Isis has been around longer than I would’ve imagined. Isis began in Iraq in 2003, just a few years after the rise of Al Qaeda, and since then has become a bigger threat and more aggressive. During the 9/11 attacks, the news and the people were mainly focuses on Al Qaeda and their movements, or at least that is the group the media chose to tell us about. We mainly started to hear about Isis after Osama bin Laden was taken out by Seal Team 6, and the comeback of Isis was “paved by its enemies”. What Dr. Boukhars meant when he said that, is that Iran’s support of Shiites has sent radical troops to Isis and has increased sectarianism. Basically it creates a division. Another involvement that created even more tension is that of the United States; under the Bush administration, which was very hands on and proactive, and the Obama administration, which has been laissez-fair, the tension has only grown and further led to Isis and their terror. One key phrase I picked out of Dr. Boukhars lecture is that Isis fills a void. We actually just recently talked about this in one of my classes, one key aspect that leads people to become radicals, or criminals in my other class, is that there is a part of their life that never got fulfilled. Therefore they attempt to fill this part of their life with someone, or something else, just to feel as though they have a sense of belonging. The last piece of information I’ll mention is that Dr. Boukhars made the point that the war on terror has only further made radical groups more dangerous. So one must ask themselves, if both Bush and Obama’s different policies have only further aggravated Isis, then what will make this issue come to an end?

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Reflection 3: The Concert

I have never heard music like I did on March 2, 2106. The trio that performed were very upbeat and lively, and their music had the rhythm and tempo that made you want to get up and dance. A few actually did get up and dance, including my professor. Massamba, the man who plays the talking drum, brought my professor up to dance, he had Dr. Esa moving his hips and getting his groove on. The moves Dr. Esa was doing was a mix between the dance moves of Jump on it and The Cha-Cha Slide. While Dr. Esa dancing was hands down my favorite part of the concert, my favorite song out of the entire concert had to be Wala-Wala. The song just had a beat that is too hard to get out of your head. Another part of the song that I really enjoyed was that Massamba was so upbeat in his playing and got the audience to join in the singing.

Today in class the trio came and talked to us. One part of what they talked about that really stuck with me was when they briefly mentioned how they were all from different parts. The dancer is from a small fishing village and he grew up taking after his mom and becoming a dancer. Massamba grew up in a family known as “the African Dictionary”; his family is where one would go to find out information about their family. And then there is Troy, who grew up in New Jersey. These three men all came from different types of families and yet they came together through the power of music. The way this spoke to me is that even with all the hate and discrimination going on in today’s world, there is still some hope of a single force bringing people together for the better 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Weekly Report 3: Mohammad Assaf

            Many singers and artists begin their career a multitude of ways. For Mohammad Assaf, this way was by being a wedding singer in a refugee camp in Gaza; from there he went on to win “Arab Idol”. After Mohammad Assaf won “Arab Idol” he became a superstar in the Arab World, and now that he has “conquered” that side of the world he is attempting to do the same with North America.
            In 2013 Mohammad Assaf went on a nine week tour of all the larger cities in North America, from Detroit to Tampa, which have a large amount of Arab World immigrants in them. Every show was packed during this tour and tickets were very expensive, about $350 per ticket and entire extended families would go to see a show. Mohammad Assaf does not draw a specific gender or age group towards his performances. It was said that grown men rushed to touch him, and mothers in head scarves embraced their squealing daughters.” This quote alone shows that Mohammad Assaf draws in people of different ages and genders; this could be the very reason why he won “Arab Idol”. A woman who was interviewed said that the reactions of some women were very similar to that of women at a concert such as NSync; women would throw kaffiyeh, a Bedouin Arab’s kerchief used as a headdress, similar to women throwing their panties up on stage.
            There are many aspects of the music business that are hard to stay away from, especially politics. As much as Mohammad Assaf tried to focus on his music and stay away from politics, he did become entangled in them. The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, endorsed him during “Arab Idol” which then led to Mohammad Assaf being a good-will ambassador and getting a diplomatic passport. One can come to the conclusion that this is because his concerts in North America can be said to bring different cultures together.
            His story is one that many people know and is a big reason why he is so popular. It is a rags to riches story, so to speak. He grew up in a refugee camp and spent the first part of his life suffering, but now things are better for him. He is a pop star now with political influence. Moral of this story is that anything can happen.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Reflection 2: Al-Andalus: Legacy of Spain

Today in class we listened to a lecture by Dr. Deveny where we talked and learned about the connection between Spain and the Arab World. The connection is much more prevalent than I had ever thought about or learned about in high school. The connection began with the Pyrenees Mountain range. Many people say that Europe ends with the Pyrenees, which would mean that they consider Spain to not be a part of Europe. Well where does that put Spain with regards to the world map? In Africa – in a way. Because of Africa’s close proximity to Spain, this left the doors open to people to immigrate. This is what leads to one of the more interesting connections Dr. Deveny talked about.

There were many topics discussed throughout the lecture, but perhaps the topic that surprised and intrigued me the most were that of the languages that surrounded this time period. The Arabic and Spanish languages are more alike than it would seem. A prime example of this is in the song Non me mordas ya habibi. There are words in the song – such as mordas, quero, and toto – that are cognates of the Spanish words muerdas, quiero, and todo. These are just a few of the examples of the cognates that can be found between these two languages. Dr. Deveny discussed with us the fact that there are words in the Spanish language, such as alfombra and ojala, that resemble the Arabic language because of the prefixes in the words. The main one that popped out is ojala. When one separates ojala into oj-ala we can see that “ala” is apart of the word. In Spanish ojala means hope and in Arabic Allah means God; in many people’s eyes, hope and God go hand in hand. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Weekly Report 2: Arab and Muslim contributions to world civilization

In 2010 Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize at the young age of 17. She is very famous not just in Pakistan, but throughout the world because she is the second person in the country to ever win the Nobel Peace Prize. The only other person to ever win the Nobel Peace Prize from Pakistan is Abdus Salam in 1979 for his study on subatomic particles in physics.
Malala Yousafzai is memorable for many reasons. One main reason, and the reason she won the Nobel Peace Prize, is that she is an advocate for education for girls, which later led to an assassination attempt on her by the Taliban. Many people from her homeland do not support her, which often leads to people disgracing her and criticizing all her hard work fighting to get girls the education they deserve. Many of those people also deem her “a stooge of Western interests”, an agent for the CIA, and useless. Among those who do not support Malala Yousafzai, there are those who support her, her goals, and her achievements. Those are the people who wish Malala would return back to Pakistan. However, because of all the problems those who oppose her have caused it is unlikely that she will go back anytime soon.
This article is one that is very important, and I think it is a big step forward in our world that this story was in the news. Malala was 17 years old and making a bigger contribution to the world than more people could even hope to. These are the types of stories that need the focus in today’s world. Having someone as influential as Malala gives hope.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Weekly Report 1: Syria

By the end of 2014 the opposition forces of Syria seized Sheikh Miskin, a city in the northern countryside of Daraa. However, On January 26, 2016, with the help of Russian air cover which began on December 28, regained control over Sheikh Miskin. On January 26, the Syrian Army restored security and stability to Sheikh Miskin following numerous successes where the army regained control of multiple sites including the Brigade 82 camp and al-Has hill. They were also successful in destroying headquarters of terrorist cells, destroying supplies and members. All of this was accomplished with the aid of Russian air power. 
A reporter and expert on military affairs, Kamel Sakr, reported that regaining control over Sheikh Miskin is a crucial step because of its location and size. The city links Daraa to Damascus. It is also next to the crossing point for militants. Moreover, with a population of 45,000 it is known to be one of the largest cities in the Daraa province. Sakr has also stated that having control over just Sheikh Miskin is inadequate to stop the opposing forces. Sakar went on and said that the Syrian army needs to move west to make a significant impact on the advance needed on the Daraa front. In addition, Moscow has increased its military support for the regime because the Syrian government see the progress being made on the ground as a political gain, and Russia knows that the advances being made on the ground will give Syria a better position during negotiations.
There are many reasons why the opposition force lost control over Sheikh Miskin, the main reason is the because of the 33 straight days of Russian airstrikes. Mohammed Ibrahim, a media activist, reported that over 75 raids were launched on the first day alone. According to Ibrahim, the second main reason for the loss of control in the city is because of the weather. He reported that the conditions deteriorated the resilience of the opposing forces. There was also confusion of the oppositions side which led to the undermining of their resistance, and this confusion was cause by the lack of joint operations and scattered Free Syrian Army (FSA) activity.
On February 1, Iyad Abdul Hamid al-Daws, a captain in the Yarmouk Army located in Daraa, went on television and said that the support for the opposing forces in Daraa is “modest and insufficient to achieve victory”. He also stated that they have no type of anti-aircraft missiles to compete with Russia’s air force, and while the opposing forces are preparing for a comeback it may not be possible for them to take back the territory if Russian air support continues for the regime. Similarly, on February 3 the regime lifted the opposition’s siege on Nubl and al-Zahra crities in the norther Aleppo countryside; this operation led to the possibility of the supply routes of opposition fighters being cut. Along with the supply routes possibly being cut, this may influence the government’s plans causing them to move north sooner.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Reflection 1: Why am I taking this course?

I actually know very little about the Arab World, and what I do know is from what I learned in history classes throughout my school years. I chose to take this sophomore interdisciplinary study because I am a mathematics and criminal justice double major, and while that may seem like a strange combination it will actually open up many doors into government agency jobs, such as the FBI or CIA. My goal is to work for the FBI or CIA in the counter-terrorism department, and by knowing Arabic and more of the Arab world I can get a fuller grasp on what may need to happen to help improve both foreign and domestic conflicts. While I have never been to the Arab World, I someday hope to visit to embrace the culture outside of a classroom. My views on the Arab World were impacted by 9/11 even though it may not seem that way. Since I was five when the attack occurred I do not remember much; however, the society I grew up in was effected by 9/11. I was effected through the attack because those around me became scared, which led me to be scared as well. My views were impacted through certain people by seeing their ignorance and intolerance of people who do not practice Christianity, and that taught me what not to do and how not to act. I grew up in a time period where people feared Muslim’s because of what a radical group did, and I do not believe that we should fear Muslim’s or anyone of the Arab World.