Thursday, February 28, 2008

Blogging Across Borders

One of the most important components of dialogue is that it be sustained. It is when relations between two groups become strained that dialogue becomes most important. Of course, it is at times like these that meeting in person can become hardest.

Two people, one Jewish and one Palestinian, one in the rocket-wearied Israeli town of Sderot and the other in the Sajaia refugee camp in Gaza, have been carrying on a blog together detailing their experiences of life in conflict. If a blog like theirs can be so successful, there’s every reason to think dialogue can be constructed and constructive anywhere.

Check it out here.

Monday, February 11, 2008

I think I'm proud to be a Muslim

By Nisreen

I think I’m proud to be a Muslim.

But perhaps I’m not. Perhaps I’m proud of being an anomaly, something out of the ordinary, something unique and different. Yeah, I’m an American Muslim, which is something rare in and of itself, but you know what’s even better? I’m also “breaking stereotypes,” exhibiting a type of moderate, educated, Muslim woman that doesn’t really exist. Or does she?

There is something in the exotic which appeals to Americans. I am not just American: I am German-Irish-American, I am Russian-Philipino American, I am an American Jew, I am an American Muslim. Religion in and of itself does not have a place in our pop culture unless it is something out of the ordinary, and then it must adhere either to a negative or positive stereotype. You know what I mean. If you’re not a moderate, culturally savvy, non-hijab wearing Muslim woman, you’ve gotta be a fully covered burka lady sittin’ in a circle around Laura Bush. Cool huh? I think not.

So where do we go from here? How do we appreciate the exotic without seeming Orientalist, and embrace home-grown traditions without condoning extremism? You tell me.