Why Do You Care About Israel and Palestine?

A nuclear power is waging an endless war on a tiny area that wants to gain its freedom from the big and powerful neighbor. There is a forced and cruel displacement of people from the lands they have inhabited forever, a genocide. The nuclear power is using anti-Muslim sentiments to consolidate the persecution of the people who fight for independence. The inhabitants of the small area are using terrorism to defend their right to independence, bringing their acts of terror into the very heart of the powerful conqueror. The appalling poverty plagues the people who have almost lost all hope for having a state of their own. The land has been destroyed by endless war.

Of course, you must have realized by now that I’m talking about Russia and Chechnya, right?

As the recent flare-up of the conflict between Israel and Palestine intensifies, everybody is plastering their Facebook pages, blogs, and Twitter feeds with (often quite disturbing) photos and cartoons that reference the conflict. Friendships crumble as people take objection to the way their acquaintances portray what is happening. Articles on the subject abound. People snap at each other at work and at home as pressures rise and everybody’s opinion becomes more passionately entrenched.

As I observe what is going on, I keep wondering why this specific conflict provokes such intense feelings. There are many similar conflicts taking place in other parts of the world but nobody seems to care, or at least not nearly as much. Whenever I mention the word “Chechnya”, I see people’s eyes glaze over with boredom. Yet any reference to Israel makes everybody sit up and pay attention.

Could anybody explain why this is happening? Why do you personally care more about Israel and Palestine than about Russia and Chechnya?

Reader Appreciation Series: David Bellamy

David Bellamy has been reading my blog for a very long time. He is a mathematician who is in love with his profession and who exemplifies everything that is good about academia.

I absolutely adore David Bellamy because he is a wonderful person, a true intellectual with a voracious thirst for knowledge, a progressive, a wonderful father, and a great teacher. He is also an exemplary blog reader. David sends me links to interesting articles I can use to blog about on a regular basis. He is also a great lover of the English language, which is a quality I admire a lot. I’m kind of scary, so people are shy about pointing out my typos and linguistic gaffes, but David Bellamy values linguistic purity more than passing vanities. I think this is a great thing. True friends are the ones who are not afraid to point out your mistakes, and not the ones who condescend to you by pretending you are perfect.

David Bellamy read my blog when almost nobody knew it existed and has not abandoned it over the years. Thank you, my dear friend, I appreciate this more than I can say.

Black Russian Bread

I reminded him that Smith lives in Arkansas, not Bethesda. “We pay five dollars for a loaf of Black Russian bread at Whole Foods. I’m thinking a cheap loaf of bread in Arkansas is like seventy cents.”

After this one sentence, I immediately forgave the linked blogger for nasty comments about my university, a.k.a. the best place in the universe. Black Russian bread is, indeed, phenomenal. Of course, black Lithuanian bread is even better.

P.S. The linked post is not about the Russian bread but something a lot more important. I highly recommend.