"Welcome to Palestine"

SHARING INTELLECTUAL INTERESTS IS AN IMPORTANT ASPECT OF UNIVERSITY LIFE. DESCRIBE AN EXPERIENCE OR IDEA THAT YOU FIND INTELLECTUALLY EXCITING AND EXPLAIN WHY.


In the summer of 2000, my family traveled to Israel, the birthplace of my father. I performed my Bat Mitzvah, met relatives for the first time, and discovered my heritage in a new light. Yet, one distinct incident left the greatest impact. We were visiting the Masada, an extremely spiritual site to Judaism, symbolic of Jewish Resistance, when an Arab worker stealthily confronted me, and defiantly announced, "Welcome to Palestine." As a young, naive, Jewish-American girl, I was flabbergasted. After all, we were in the land of Israel. Somehow, I realized how those seemingly three innocent words were reflective of a great cultural conflict just below the surface. Within months, the simmering tensions exploded into the violent Intifada that continues to plague the nation. Those words, however, ignited my passion for international events, particularly ethnic conflicts. Inspired, I read Thomas Friedman's From Beirut to Jerusalem, a highly acclaimed book that examines both sides of the Middle East conflict. Now a Friedman addict, I closely follow his columns in the New York Times, as each tackles an issue with a balanced, encompassing approach.

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