Ross School - Senior Project 2006-07
Mentor: Kenneth Sacks
Consultant: Gideon Schein
Domain: Cultural History
Title: Israel, Palestine and the UN: A Brief Investigation
Since its official inception in 1945, the United Nations has been engaged in the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I researched how this seemingly ubiquitous, all-encompassing organization has dealt with this age-old conflict. I created an interactive timeline to allow others to learn in a more interactive setting. I also wrote a paper that corresponded with the timeline, so that the events that occur on the timeline can be read in a narrative form.
My first inspiration for my Senior Project arose when I met an ex-Israeli soldier, who had become a peaceful moderate and a scholar. After having attended a few Model United Nations conferences, I was able to converse with him about the subject of the Israel-Palestinian conflict and the United Nations came up in the conversation. I found this to be a new angle, so my goals for my project became to create a timeline of the conflict in the eyes of the UN, and to write a narrative paper that corresponded with the timeline.
My product became a completed paper, and a working timeline. The timeline is a work in progress partially because as time goes by there will always be things to add to it, but also because one can always find new details to add in the historical perspective. But I do hope to publish it on a website in the near future so that it may be viewed by the public.
My process was lengthy, partly because much of my time was spent sorting through massive amounts of information and organizing it in my head before I could put it into any medium. Eventually, I realized that organizing my materials was of key importance. Sorting materials into order of importance and balancing the amount of information I could synthesize with what I needed to be able to write the paper. There was also a lot of propaganda involved, sometimes even in the more scholarly areas of the internet. I found that artful propaganda has the ability to allow a person to think that they are thinking for themselves, based on simple facts that they have been given, when in reality the ‘facts’ that they were given were closer to skewed opinions, which is one of the most powerful tools to create hatred between two groups. Also, a large portion of my process was spent altering the product, and the possibilities ranged in scope, especially in the beginning.
While my initial challenge was simply to decide exactly what my product would be, I later found that researching two topics that were often covered in everything from newspapers to scholarly tomes was far simpler than linking them and seeing one through the eyes of the other. I also faced challenges with the computer software used to build the timeline. I did not give myself enough time to learn about it, and therefore had a bit of a rush to get everything on to the timeline, and since the program did not work on Mac, finding time to use another persons computer was not an ideal situation.
Eventually I did acquire the skills necessary to use the OpenMind 2.0, the timeline program, effectively. I also learned out to better organize my time and research, and how to cope with researching on such a large-scale project.
One of the most interesting things I learned while researching for this project was that I had a lot more biases than previously recognized, leaning more towards the side of Israel than perhaps I should have. With this realization, came the fact that in a conflict such as this, there is no clear-cut line between good and evil. It is an emotionally, sociologically, and even economically complex on every level, from the individual, to corporations and governments. The beliefs that a conflict such as this are often defended to the death, but that necessarily mean that the attitude is substantiated by any kind of facts or reality.
In the future I may attend undergraduate school to major in International Relations. If this is the case, then I hope to at least continue my studies for a Masters or PhD, and work in foreign relations, probably not in the United Nations.
Bibliography or Works Cited
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