Volume 95, Issue 97

Tuesday, April 9, 2002
 
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NEWS

From a war zone to Western

Inmates restless over website

New condoms of no use at "new" Brescia

New MIT dean no Dean Martin

Publication Notice:

From a war zone to Western

By Jessica Leeder
Gazette Staff


Once he submerged himself in the politics of the Middle East, it was hard for Lorne Swartz to leave the culture behind without forming strong personal views on the historic conflict.

Swartz, a fourth-year political science student at Western, sat down with The Gazette yesterday to describe how his time spent at Hebrew University in Jerusalem last year shaped his view on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

When he left Canada in Sept. 2000 to study Middle East politics at Hebrew, Swartz knew little about the details of the conflict. His decision to go on the exchange was not motivated by his Jewish roots, but Hebrew's world-renowned reputation for attracting international scholars.

The things he saw, heard and learned proved to be a culturally shocking – and enlightening – experience.

"Going to Israel is like going to Disney World and bringing back a jar of sand. When you go to Israel, you bring back a story about almost being blown up," he said.

"It's Israel. We've had some quiet times, but there are people on both sides who want to ruin it," he said, adding he understands the reasoning behind both sides, but, as a human rights advocate, he cannot support either cause in the war.

"Everyone feels their own personal connection with Israel and Jerusalem. There is a huge connection for all monotheistic religions and over two billion people. To say you 'live' there, in either an Israeli context or a Palestinian context, is to assume that you have gone through what they have gone through in their lives," he said.

"[A Palestinian] my age would know only occupation. They've seen their father or their uncle be arrested. To an Israeli, living there would mean growing up through the Lebanese Civil War or knowing what it is like to lose family members to suicide bombings.

"When you start walking through a refugee camp, you realize that suicide bombing is something we will never be able to understand. We don't understand the conditions that you have to live under to bring yourself to do something like that."

Swartz, whose Reznik dorm overlooked Jerusalem's largest hospital, said it is important to realize that Palestinians are not terrorists.

"Fundamentalists are terrorists. And there are also Jewish fundamentalists who operate worldwide," he said.






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