Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Got My Mind on the Middle East

...and the Middle East on my mind.

After an extensive amount of navel gazing in combination with the usual hemming and hawing, I have decided that The Blog will be undergoing some changes. But don't worry--nothing too radical is taking place. I promise to remain ever-so-quirky and endearingly long-winded. In fact, I pledge to retain my style of excessively worded sentences and the like. But, oh, don't ya worry--it will all be for the good...

Lately, I have been mindful of the state of The Blog...and I have been noticing that I am less inclined to write in general. I largely blame this on the fact that I have been living in such a small town, and I am mildly neurotic about maintaining some semblance of privacy. Moreover, while I could write volumes of parody of my life as an extremely overworked professor in a small college town, I have chosen to be professionally prudent about excessively throwing the light of the blogosphere this way. However mildly amusing and personally heart wrenching this experience has been at times, the fact remains that my tenure is coming to an end. My teaching contract expires in less than a month. I am now solidly laying plans to return to my research fellowship in Jerusalem. In doing so, I have been flatly lying to my immediate family: The truth is that I have absolutely no plans to return to the USA after "12 weeks or so". In fact, come what may, I do not plan to set foot on American soil for at least 8 months, if not longer.

On a very personal note, I have spent the better part of the past year independently slogging through the battle of ideology in my life, my spirit and my teaching as part of my activism. Here I should mention the internal, nearly schizophrenic torsion I have felt as one who regularly worships as a Jew yet maintains a focus on Palestinian human rights. As a "good Jew", I have wrestled round after round with my sense of Jewishness and the compatibility of being Jewish with doing good things in the world despite the terribly bad taste that the State of Israel often leaves in my mouth. In the end (which is always just a new beginning), I have decided that the proverbial Jewish "golden slipper" has always been the very best fit for me spiritually. However "secular", "liberal", or simply "Diest" I may seem to others, I have a faith in the Universe that renders me humble and aware. As a very well-respected rabbi said to me in Boston last year, "One can be a religious Jew and a secular Zionist." I fully agree. The truth is that my strong affiliation for the Jewish faith relies on the fact that the Jewish people have existed without borders or boundaries for well over two millennium. Similarly, I exist. Of course, I am not here to proselytize, nor I do I care to preach. But boundaries and borders of the mind or the body just aren't my thing.

Obviously, I can be as pig-headed and stubborn as the rest of us. For years, friends and family have encouraged me to write it all down. So many people seem to think that I have a "book" out of all of my wanderings. However, this has never been my focus or intent. After all, I am still writing my doctoral dissertation; for the discernible future, I will be caught in the middle of this and the Middle East. Yet, I will admit that there is something interesting happening here. This will be my third extended trip back to the region. Here's to hoping that the "third time is the charm".

For the next couple of weeks, I will be taking inventory of my previous posts and orienting the blog to all things pertaining to my work, activism and travels in the Middle East. At the moment, I am battling whether I want to change the url name to something more "appropriate". I am also trying to decide whether I should also share the url with my students, who would love to be able to keep track of me in the coming months...

Thoughts? Or suggestions?

1 comment:

Alan Ward said...

Good luck with the spring cleaning in your life. That is what you intend, right? We all need to wash, clean and make anew from time to time.

Please remember that, perhaps unfortunately, many people do believe in "boundaries and borders of the mind or the body" - and you will find them on both sides of any conflict.