Tuesday, October 13, 2009

About Me: A Jerusalem Artichoke is Neither a Jerusalemite Nor an Artichoke

I am in fact a Jerusalemite, and have been one for the last five years (excluding a small blip in which I lived near Tel Aviv). I live in the nominally mixed Jewish-Arab neighborhood of Abu Tor, about 50 yards away from the pre-1967 no-man’s land between Israel and Jordan. Under certain peace plans, this line would become the border between Israel and Palestine.

Before that, I lived and worked in Washington, DC. I have worked both in the military-industrial complex, as a policy analyst at the Pentagon, and in the peace biz, as a project manager and fundraiser for international and Israeli conflict resolution organizations.

I am a wife and mother. My husband grew up in Israel and served in an anti-terrorist and bomb-disposal unit in the police. My sweet, smiling baby son will probably do his compulsory army service 17 years from now.

Like a Jerusalem artichoke, I don’t quite fit any of my labels. Each label does, however, contribute to my worldview. Namely, I believe that:
  • A two-state solution is the only feasible outcome of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • Most people on both sides want peace, but they don’t want the peace that is being offered.
  • People-to-people contacts are necessary to secure a peace agreement, but they are not sufficient in the absence of official agreements between governments.
  • It’s natural for countries to want to pursue nuclear weapons. It is also natural for their enemies to want to prevent them from getting nuclear weapons. International agreements, rigorously enforced, are the best way to prevent proliferation.
  • I don’t always live up to my own ideals. As an Israeli-American, I’m glad that those two countries have nukes. As a resident of Abu Tor, I think I’ll be OK with a border in my back yard (see my next post), but I’m not sure. I’ll be very sad if Israel has to give up the majestic, protective Golan Heights. I know there is a great deal of injustice just outside my door, but I concentrate on what I can do at my day job, and then I go home and tickle the baby, watch House with my husband, or bake Dutch Process Cocoa Cookies or Rosemary-Orange Shortbread Cookies.
In this blog, I'll offer my opinion from my perch in Jerusalem. My opinion is, I believe, an informed one--informed not just by my years of schooling and my professional experience but by the knowledge that the future of Jerusalem is my future. I'll talk about the politics and the policy but will also toss in other aspects of life here, including the religious and educational landscape, and the occasional recipe.


John said...

Thank you Gayle for sharing your amazing insight. It will be like old times when we worked together in the Pentagon! I will never forget the time a number of Saudi's called our office after the attack on Sept 11th 2001 asking if their friend Gayle was OK. I loved the fact that these Arabs loved their Jewish friend enough to be so concerned about her welfare.

With love and respect,
John Bowley, Colonel USAF (Ret)

Shalom said...

Informed, local, with room for subtlety and complexity and the occasional recipe -- this is gonna be great! Looking forward to reading more,

Your formerly-very-close-but-still-neighbor,
-- Shalom

YMedad said...

Welcome aboard.

Lady-Light said...

Welcome to the JBlogosphere!