Ugh, more research

June 19

            Since the international camp preparation for seeds takes place this week on Tuesday, today was very much about getting together the remaining details for the programming. For me, that meant that I was back to research and drafting reports summarizing my research. I am frustrated with doing research, since I want to be doing field work as a career, but I know it can’t all be fun and games. At least I was learning from doing the research.  I was researching different cities, such as Tulkarem, Bethlehem, and Qalqilya, and how different aspects, like settlements and the wall, affect them and their residents. I learned a lot about the effects of the occupation that you cannot necessarily see. I read about how the wall cuts off access to farmland and so livelihoods suffer, how checkpoints and barricades adversely affect tourism, which many cities rely on for income, how restrictions and regulations on movement destroy businesses’ customer base, stagnating economies. On top of that, there are environmental consequences, such as the destruction of viable farmland, and personal affects, such as health problems in Tulkarem due to the placement of Israeli factories and the cutting off of families from one another.

While doing research is not the fieldwork that I really want to be doing, I am glad that I am learning from it. Being more aware of the extent of the affects of the occupation in many different realms inspires me to work for the peace that can change the situation. I definitely understand why Palestinians are so frustrated and often lose hope in a better future, why they are so shockingly (to me) angry sometimes. However, I think that this understanding is crucial to my ability to be an effective conflict resolution practitioner. It is not enough to come into a situation with bright ideas as “Mr. Fix-It”. I need to understand where the layers of problems stem from and help address those. Otherwise, any solution is only temporary, as we have seen time and again with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I make no presumptions about having a solution, but living here and doing research on issues and cities and events at my internship helps me to understand the complexity and motivation behind the mindsets I see played out everyday here. I hope to remember to take the time to observe, live, and understand the situation in any future peace-building endeavor, as I think that that is the first, though small, step to implementing an effective program. This realization reminded me a lot of the ideas of Jean-Paul Ledderach that I read about in Peace Paradigms. It is interesting to actually be in a situation where the theoretical ideas that I have read about are actually being recalled for my own practice. It helps me have a better understanding of the theory, as well, because I can see why Ledderach emphasizes the importance of observation and emersion in the situation rather than imposition. Who knew I would gain a whole new appreciation for theory by getting a glimpse of the practical ideas behind it? And all this from doing research and writing reports.