Wednesday, January 14, 2009

that's my coz!

i've got a family that would rival the corleone's in size. and i don't pretend to know all of them or their business. cousin scott, for example, grew up in utah. as kids, we didn't talk much. as teens, we talked even less. as adults, our friendship has relied heavily on a single correspondence about the admirable qualities of john wooden and a few episodes of arrested development. scott is an ancient near eastern studies major at byu with an emphasis on hebrew. but that's all backstory.

last week i got a facebook invite from scott:

"'a palestinian student perspective'
do you have questions about the palestinian-israeli conflict?
come ask them to fellow students from the middle east.
q&a moderated by byu professor amr al-azm.
refreshments provided."

i was in utah on family business and the invitation piqued my interest. scott studied for a semester in jerusalem last year. he left expecting to grow his love for hebrew language and israeli culture. he returned distraught about the disconnect between how he saw palestinians treated in israel and how he saw them treated in u.s. media. so he did something about it. with refreshments, no less.

hosted at the pennyroyal cafe in provo, there was standing room only by the time the panelists introduced themselves: 1 professor, 1 student, 1 recent graduate, 1 permanent resident. all from the middle east. we covered everything from hamas and upcoming elections to family losses in gaza last week. it wasn't perfect and some people left clearly disappointed.

as for me, i walked away choc full of reading suggestions**, political ambivalence, and familial pride. i am glad to be related to a man who is willing to educate himself on an issue about which he feels passionately, and then take a bold stance to inspire others.

p.s. that's scott in the photo in case you mistook him for a random.

**professor amr al-azm will be emailing me a list of suggested readings on israeli-palestinian relations, historical and current. if you're interested in the list - or have suggestions - please let me know.


Tiffany said...

I would like a copy of that list. Also I saw this documentary while I was in Baltimore. You should check it out if you ever get a chance.

johnny said...

i will send you the list. that documentary looks awesome! - i will definitely check it out when it comes to ann arbor in march.

where did you see it in baltimore?