Monday, December 8, 2008

Day 18: Idea

When I was a sophomore in college, I signed up for a class called The Arab-Israeli Conflict. I had no idea what to expect, but my roommates and I all signed up to take it. It sounded exotic, probably. On the first day, our small class was divided into two sides. One side was told that, for the duration of the semester, they were to take the view of Jewish-Israelis. The other side was assigned to view everything as Palestinians. We were to study both sides and come up with a proposal for a solution that we would put forward in a "Peace Summit" at the end of the semester. This summit would count as our final.

For the next four months, I read everything about Islam I could get my hands on. I was taking a class, in tandem, on the Humanities and arts of Islam. On the final day, our group went to class in full Palestinian dress. We had worked hard on our proposal, and it was quite extensive, addressing everything from water rights and infrastructure to what to do with displaced and expatriate Palestinians. We felt that it was fair and unbiased. To us, it made sense. Sitting at a conference table across from our "Israeli" classmates, we presented our solution. Their faces twitched. Some of them made audible protests. They presented their proposal to us. I remember clutching my hands under the table and shaking my head without even meaning to. Their "solution" infuriated me.

At the end of our final, our teacher stood and gazed at us. We all felt passionately about the causes we championed. This had become far more than a class. I will never forget our professor pointing out that in four months, we had come to feel so strongly about something that we were truly removed from. We began to understand, then, why this conflict was so very difficult for us as foreigners to understand, and how complex the solutions would have to be to solve it.

So, why am I writing about a class I took years ago? Because I had an idea while I was driving to the store tonight. It would be a Romeo and Juliet twist--using the story of a Palestinian girl and a Jewish-Israeli boy. I already have their names--Ezra Levin and Amira Khalidi. The setting would be Palestine, although I'm debating where and how I would have the story play out. The obstacles are not only obvious, but they're also very real. I can't think of a more appropriate modern-day version of this classic Shakespearean tale.

I'm so intrigued by this idea, that I wanted to start working on it right away, even if though it probably isn't interesting to anyone who happens across this entry. I'd be interested to know what you guys thing--would it be possible for an Israeli and a Palestinian to fall in love? Does the idea intrigue you at all? Leave me feedback, and let me know!

Note: Okay, the day AFTER I wrote this, the film preview for a movie about this exact subject appeared in the New York Times. *hmmph* The film, by the way, didn't get the best review, which brings up something I'd been thinking about--in order for a story like this to really work, it would need a LOT of research. (Maybe on the same level as that book The Historian, so--eight years or so.) This also got me wondering if I would have the story end tragically, like the true Romeo and Juliet, or if I could find a more creative and happy ending. Hmmm...

3 comments:

Denise said...

Hmmmmm. I'm not going to be much help to you here. I have never been able to appreciate tragedies and choose not to spend time with something I so little enjoy. The cultures and traditions of the middle east mystify so many people- I fear your voice would be just one more, lost in the noisy marketplace of vendors who have enough understanding to have an opinion. Bummer- like I said- not much encouragement from me on this one. On the other hand- since you are going to write you ought to try what ever your heart and your thinking leads you to. Denise

RaT Babies said...

When I was doing teacher training I to took a paper on the Arab-Isreali conflict and found it really interesting. We went right back to Isaac and Ishmael in our study and up too 2001 (the year i took the paper). I would be intrigued to read your story to see how it panned out ... anything is possible when it comes to love ...

Cristina said...

I think it's a beautiful idea. I would like to read it. I would make it a relatively short story if I was you, because anything long would simply need too much research (and may require you to actually go and live there for a while, to get the full understanding of that place...)

Cristina