Middle east chaos

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I just finished sawing through a really interesting book called "From Beirut to Jerusalem" by Thomas L. Friedman, who is a winner of a Pulitzer Prize. This book was awarded the 1989 National Book Award for nonfiction in 1989, and I can recommend it very highly.

For many years now, I have been totally confused by the events occurring in Israel and the Middle East and the resulting chaos there, especially with the PLO and the surrounding Arab countries. Rather than remain unfairly negative about the whole situation (which is human nature's way to protect the psyche from accepting ignorance and the unknown), I decided that perhaps it is high time to read more about the historical perspectives and the political intricacies. That way, by learning a little more about this explosive region, I would be able to form my own objective judgments based on the so-called facts. Boy, things there are very complicated, and this book gives an excellent overview from the perspective of an American Jew who has actually lived in the region.

After reading this book, while I felt I knew more I also felt even more perplexed, wondering if peace there can ever be achieved. It is a complete mess. The fault is not one side or the other, but a common shortcoming that has to be dealt with equally by all the sides involved. The burdens of the historical viewpoint have to be relaxed in order to make progress in the negotiations. To forgive and to forget.

To quote a review: "As a reporter for UPI and The New York Times, he was stationed in Beirut from 1979 to 1984, and in Lebanon from 1984 to 1989. He describes with intense vividness the sometimes horrifying, sometimes wondrous cities, for which, he says, nothing in his life had prepared him. Friedman brings alive his journey from Beirut to Jerusalem through anecdotes, history, analysis and self-examination -- and puts all the currents into perspective with inimitable detail, clarity and remarkable insight. This is a much-needed framework for understanding the psychology and politics of the Middle East, and for understanding the future of this unique region."

Now when I am watching the television and some report is shown about the problems of Israel, I do not immediately switch stations in disgust like I used to. I can listen and (slightly) understand, respect the historical complexities behind the chaos, and finally keep my fingers crossed that in the long-run things will turn out for the best.

To quote from the book: "There are going to be good days and bad days, and all one can hope for is that the good days will vastly outnumber the bad."

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