Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Curriculum

Wanting to maximize the extended experience here (beyond the study of Arabic), I've set myself some reading tasks. For HISTORY, I brought with me the recently released tome "Jerusalem, the Biography" by Simon Sebag Montefiore (SSM). I've not read him before, but apparently he is a prized biographer (e.g, of Stalin and Catherine the Great). The hardback version came out when I was in London recently, so I picked it up hoping that it would be a worthy source to study. Fortunately, by now some reviews are out, giving it high praise for its scope, detail, impartiality, and method (portraying life stories of key individuals and families that have dwelt here).

For CONTEMPORARY POLITICS, at the Educational Bookshop on Salah El Din Street - the popular commercial street in East Jerusalem leading to the Old City - I noticed and bought a recent double issue of the Palestine-Israel Journal (Vol. 17 No. 1 & 2, 2011) titled "JERUSALEM: In the Eye of the Storm". It is an anthology of contemporary essays by Israeli, Palestinian, and other authors highlighting why Jerusalem is at the forefront of, and will be the hinge of, any peace negotiation and agreement.

For DOMESTIC ISSUES, I've decided to read the Jerusalem Post daily. Reasons are several. The JP, widely viewed as a right-wing newspaper, will be a good guide on pro-Israeli (i.e., Zionist) orientations and perspectives. This will help balance the more liberal Israeli (i.e., non-Zionist) perspectives I read via the NYTimes, and its affiliate the International Herald Tribune - which, locally, includes an insert from Haaretz, a more left-leaning Israeli newspaper. As well, the JP will orient me to the issues of concern in Jerusalem that are apart from the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. This is critical because the complexity and severity of social, ethnic and domestic political issues and problems here are rarely given treatment outside given the preoccupation with the conflict-related issues.

I will share insights from these sources as I progress through them.

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