This is Part 1 of a 4-part series which documents the recent first-hand experiences of American Amanda Blain inhabiting the West Bank of Palestine, Jerusalem, Israel, and The Dead Sea area of the Middle East.
I entered the Middle East during the first week of December. I had heard about the tensions of this region only through limited sources, which proved to be ill-informing of Palestinian life.
In college I was a reverent student of politics. Dr. Stephen Roper was my professor for International Relations. He was a vivacious, down-to-earth character who, after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 90s, participated in the drafting of the Moldovan Constitution.
Roper’s passionate instruction helped to deepen my infatuation with world affairs and law.
However, this infatuation would soon lead to disillusionment. During a Public Opinion course, my heart sank when I learned about the political tactics of using propaganda to manipulate public opinion. I learned that we, the ordinary citizens of this world, must dig deep to find truth and integrity.
I could not “un-know” what I now knew, especially as I went on to work as a congressional liaison for a national policy-influencing organization. In advertising and politics I watched propaganda at work. I witnessed fear and division being served to the public for breakfast, lunch, and dinner by the institutions we entrust to make the biggest decisions affecting our lives.
I vowed to no longer live in a blindly trusting, sheepish sort of way. I vowed to get more curious, and to uncover truth through first-hand experience.
There was one truth I felt sure about. It was a deep knowing that we, the people, have more in common than what we are taught to believe by propaganda. With this inner knowing as my compass, I recently crossed the border from Israel into the Palestinian Territory of the West Bank, a mostly Arabic community.