A word on risk

It’s a touch surreal. I’m sitting in a Jerusalem hotel hallway talking about Palestinian statehood with a bunch of bright kids from California.

I’m trying to figure out where to start this post, and I think this is the best place to:

The more I think I know, the less I know.

“The quintessential correspondent,” were the words an editor from Cornell used to describe Ethan Bronner.

Bronner, one of the New York Times correspondents for Israel, simultaneously exuded confidence and humility. Someone prefaced a question with how he must have the toughest job in journalism, to which he replied, Well, probably not. Embedded war reporters have the hardest job in journalism.

I’m looking at you, Jake.

People already have their preconceived notions on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and Bronner said he tries to work beyond those notions.

What Bronner strives to do in his work is illustrate the gray area with narratives which may question the beliefs of someone who follows the conflict.

Another gray area stems from the disconnect between western readers, Israelis and Palestinians.

We are all human beings, “who love their children and like ice cream,” he said.

But do not think the common thread of humanity automatically means we can understand the struggles of one another.

My interpretation of this is as follows:

When someone thinks of themselves as a human being, they automatically believe their values, culture and customs are embedded in the human experience and cannot understand when the threads they believe to be inherent to all people just aren’t there in some cultures.

Please, please, please comment if you disagree.

I wish I had taken notes on Bronner, but I thought I would remember the important parts by listening attentively. Alas, there are some memory holes. I won’t make that mistake again!

“We’re all going to die. So don’t be afraid.”

With a booming voice and an even louder Hawaiian shirt, Jon Medved seemed out of place at first in the manicured hotel conference room.

Medved wanted to fill our group in on the Israeli economy, specifically start-up companies and venture capitalism.

While I realize business and economics is important in journalism, I wasn’t really as interested in his business anecdotes as I was in his message on risk.

He points out the window. A number of years ago, he said, a suicide bomber blew up near a café and killed several people. His son was one of the paramedics on site to clean up the carnage and the wreckage.

He pointed in the opposite direction. Another suicide bomber in the area had also gone off in recent years near the hotel I was staying at.

So with the threat of danger, with the presence of people in the world who do not want the Jewish state to exist, what is the risk of starting a company in comparison?

“We’re all going to die. So don’t be afraid.”

I worry the quotation comes off as morbid, but I really feel like it is uplifting, with more of an emphasis on life than death.

Outside the realms of economics, Israel and journalism, the concept of living fully by knowing how fragile life can be is powerful.

There are so many things I want to write more about. I went to a West Bank Jewish settlement, the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, the Western Wall and got a taste of Jerusalem night life.

I’m going to update these things as I have time because I think they are important.

I have pictures– they are beautiful and surreal to someone like me who has never been in this part of the world. But they don’t go with any of the above stories, so I’ll throw them in later.

Tomorrow I’ll be going to the Dead Sea and spending the night in Galilee to ring in the New Year. After that, Tel Aviv. Thank you for reading this far.

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1 comment
  1. I’m sure Bronner was a super interesting speaker to meet. I like the notion that because we’re all human beings that share certain loves and activities, it means we have the capacity to understand another person’s point of view, which is critical in grasping the nuance of the conflict. I do agree, though, that the gradient of our different values, morals, etc., which come in part from the society we’re a part of, interfere with this chance at open mindedness. If we’ve been taught how to view the world through a certain lens, that’s a hard thing to first recognize and then set aside. Your blog and Jan. 1 make me all rambly. Great stuff, grrrl.

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