Date of Defense




First Advisor

Dr. Thomas Bailey

Second Advisor

Dr. Bradley Hayden

Third Advisor

Dr. Lawrence ten Harmsel


In May 1992 I obeyed a childhood longing and went to Palestine and Israel. Officially, I was in search of an bicultural education model (Jewish-Arabic) from which I might harvest some strategies that would be helpful in my own country, South Africa, where educators face political, cultural, historical, racial, ideological, economic and religious diversity. I was profoundly disappointed with what I found in the organizations I had targeted; I returned to Kalamazoo convinced, as are many Jewish and Arabic cross-cultural educators, that fundamental changes must take place in Israeli law before meaningful interactions between the two groups can occur on an educational level.

For a long time I had no desire to write about my experiences, loathe to draw conclusions and make generalizations about real human tragedy simply as an academic exercise. But as reflection and ongoing contact with Palestinians brought new meaning to my experiences, I began to care very much about several discoveries I had made. I began to talk and write about my views. But I found that while my audience was compassionate, the overwhelming tragedies of Palestine, Somalia, and Yugoslavia, among countless others, had somehow numbed their responses — how does one respond appropriately to human suffering? And thoughtful listeners, while convinced of the validity of the information I presented, were held back from a meaningful response by their instinct to explore other points of view.

This document, then, addresses three objectives. First, it attempts to give Palestinians a face — a human face like ours, which is not seen on CNN; an identity which does not only throw stones but also lives a daily life, as we do. Secondly, it attempts to document Palestinian life apart from the occupation. As Palestinians focus their energies on their needs, they become defined to the world as an occupied people; however, the Palestinian identity is greater and older than that, and needs, like all identities, to be affirmed. Finally, this document attempts to give the reader entrance to life in Palestine in a way that frees him or her of my own convictions and allows him or her to develop his or her own.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Campus Only