Please choose one of the following topics for your initial discussion post.
1. On page 54, Engel describes how Israel/Palestine was divided into three sections: Area A being fully under Palestinian control (Bethlehem, Ramallah, Jericho, Nablus and most of Hebron), Area B (1/4 of the West Bank) under Palestinian civil control but shared security control with Israel, and Area C: all the Israeli settlements and 70% of the West bank under Israel’s control. In your discussion post: explain how all of this worked and what the problems were within this A, B, C system. Who did it favor? Why were the Palestinians so upset by it? How can you see it leading to further tensions and break downs within the peace talks later on? Do you think this is an effective way to divide Israel and Palestine? If not, how would you divide it?
2. On page 59, Engel writes, “Things would then get deadly fast. The Israelis would replace their rubber bullet magazines with live ammunition and start firing. Instead of fifteen or twenty Palestinians injured by rubber bullets, five or ten or even fifteen Palestinians might wind up dead. That day or the next morning there’d be a funeral. The funeral would turn into another protest. Kids would throw stones, then Molotov cocktails. Then someone would fire live ammo , and the Israelis would respond in kind.” What instigated this cycle of violence? Is there ever an end to this violence? Who is at fault? Who does the world see to be at fault? Can there be an end to this cycle of violence?
3. On pages 70-75, Engel describes the personal aspects of being an American journalist in war torn countries. What’s at stake for him? Why does he include so much personal detail? What does this do to you as a reader? Does it help you understand the situation in Iraq or elsewhere? How does Engel interweave the personal and the political to provide a more complete narrative of war in the Middle East? Then on pages 81-83, he shows the dangers of being an American journalist and how his life is threatened multiple times. Why does Engel keep going? How do you relate to him as you’re reading the text?
4. On page 86, Engel describes the downfall of Saddam Hussein. What happened politically to overthrow him, both within Iraq and in the US? How does Engel describe Hussein’s demise? What happened to the big man who was pictured in the beginning of the book? What implications does this section have for Iraq, for the US and for the never-ending war that the US entered into?
5. On page 89, the beginning of Chapter 4, Engel describes the after-effects of the bomb that went off just outside his hotel room at the Hamra Hotel in Baghdad. He describes the video journal he’s keeping and turns the video on himself, rather than on the destruction. Why does he do this? What is he documenting? Aren’t journalists supposed to be document the world around them? What does this tell us about Engel’s emotional/physical state? What does this tell us about the dangers war-time journalists encounter? Then look at the different stages he describes on page 91: Stage 1: Superman, Stage 2: aware that things are dangerous, Stage 3: probability is working against you, Stage 4: death here is inevitable. How does Engel grapple with these stages? How does he depict his state of mind? What implications does this have for others who might later suffer from PTSD?
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