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Monday, August 27, 2007

Pancakes are genetic

Saturday's Ashland (Oregon) Daily Tidings carries news of a local resident who is going to study women in 'sacred spaces' on a Fulbright scholarship. Emily Robbins, 23, is going to conduct her studies in Damascus, Syria, which she has visited twice before. I suppose one could ask why the United States government is providing funding for its citizens to study in a country on which it may soon be placing sanctions and that has been 'unhelpful' (to put it kindly) in the United States' ongoing war in Iraq. But that's not the most interesting thing about Emily Robbins, who is about the same age as my oldest daughter:
Robbins decided to study Arabic while she was studying in Argentina during the gap year she took between high school and college. Her cousin, Rachel Corrie, was killed that year in the Gaza Strip when an Israeli bulldozer ran her over while she was protesting the destruction of Palestinian homes.

"After that it seemed very important for me to learn Arabic," she said.
That's right, Emily Robbins is St. Pancake's cousin. And yes, of course, you can't do a proper job of hating Jews and Israel in 2007 if you don't know Arabic, can you? I'll bet there's lots of Arabic spoken in Argentina.
Robbins studied in Damascus for a semester during her junior year and returned the next summer for research on her senior thesis about young women and their interaction with the Syrian government. She spent most of her time with other women, memorizing prayers with young girls in the mosque and studying and socializing with her host sisters.

"I found that actually really positive in my own development as a woman," Robbins said. "After having spent a lot of time in mainly women's groups, I came back to the U.S. to find I was much more confident in mixed groups."

Robbins said she also stopped buying from retailers that support Israel, such as the Gap and Starbucks, after seeing thousands of Lebanese refugees pour into Damascus during Israel's bombing campaigns.
I think Starbucks is no longer here. And I don't see how The Gap supports Israel other than selling their clothes here (at prices far higher than their US prices). Some support.
"Seeing the damage that has been done by Israel, which is backed by the U.S., was a really eye-opening experience to me," she said.
Somehow I doubt she would have had the same reaction to seeing hundreds of thousands of Israeli refugees traipsing through the streets of Tel Aviv last summer trying to escape the random bombardment of Israel's north. The difference is that Israel targeted things that were serving the Lebanese military, while Hezbullah targeted Israeli civilians. I wouldn't expect Ms. Robbins to see that because we're backed by the US Big Satan and we all know what the Corrie family thinks of Big Satan, don't we:

Robbins came back with more appreciation for America in other areas, though, such as the clean air of Ashland and all the activities available to young people. Growing up in Ashland, Robbins was active in speech and debate, Little League, volleyball and water polo, programs not available to most Syrian youth.
Her comment above sure doesn't make it sound like she appreciates America. Why would anyone want to spend time in a country where speech and debate can get you executed by the government?
When Robbins returns to Syria, she will continue researching women's growing role in public and sacred spaces, although she avoided political topics on her Fulbright proposal because the Syrian government had to approve the research.

Although the Middle East has a reputation for danger, Robbins' mother Bonnie Brodersen said she is not worried about her daughter's safety.

"We visited her in Syria last year," Brodersen said. "We would be out at two o'clock in the morning, and we felt very safe."
I suppose as long as the Mukhabarat isn't after you, you have no reason not to feel safe.

I guess better there than in Judea and Samaria with the ISM.


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