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September 20, 2006 - Image 19

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-09-20

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The Other Side of the Wall
By Pauline Lewis

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Dr. Koenig standing in his lab. His research will be greatly hindered by the departments lack of
funding In the future.

y life in the West Bank
was a lot less dramatic
than you might imagine.
I wasn't kidnapped and I didn't see
any gun battles in the street. I went
to university every day, ate delicious
food and traveled throughout vari-
ous cities in the area. This is not to
say that life is normal in this part of
the Palestinian Territories. Based on
the freedoms I had taken for grant-
ed in the United States, I was not
prepared for the absence of certain
civil liberties there. One such free-
dom was to move freely to school
and work. Israeli military check-
points litter the roads throughout the
West Bank, and if you live 15 miles
away from school or work, chances
are you will have to go through at
least two or three of them. Exiting
your vehicle, you are herded to a
barb-wired waiting zone, all under
the cold gaze of an Israeli soldier
and his or her automatic weapon.
Needless to say, this was terrifying
for someone who is not comfort-
able with guns. If you're lucky, your
American passport will get you off
the hook,or maybe one of the young
Israeli soldiers will think you're cute
and let you pass without interroga-
tion. But for most Palestinians, the
checkpoints are a daily humiliation
and reminder of the military occu-
pation under which they live.
These checkpoints are one of
the few exchanges that Israelis and
Palestinians share, a phenomenon
that goes to the root of the problem
in the conflict This brief interac-

tion leaves the Palestinians view-
ing the Israelis as nothing more
than military monsters, and leaves
the Israeli soldiers suspecting each
Palestinian as a potential suicide
bomber. There is a wall, both
figuratively and literally, between
the Israelis and their Palestinian
neighbors, and this prevents both
sides from understanding the other
whom they consider the enemy.
But during my stay, I was lucky
enough to meet a Palestinian
woman who saw the humanity
on the other side of the barbwire.
'Abeer was a member of my host
family, a mother of four with a
warm smile. Once over coffee,
she asked my friend, Ron, if he
wanted to go to Tel Aviv. Ron is an
anti-Zionist Jew who is extremely
critical of Israeli policies toward
Palestinians and of average Israe-
lis who he views as reprehensible
for either supporting those policies
or not protesting them. So when
asked if he would like to travel to
Israel, Ron said bluntly, "No, I do
not like Israelis." 'Abeer looked at
Ron like he was crazy, and asked
him, "Why?!" Not waiting for an
answer, she immediately began to
defend Israelis, saying "They are
just like us. They have problems
too, they even have more problems
than we do. You know, I feel sorry
for them. Do you think they enjoy
forcing people out of their homes?
They are just people too, and yet
they are in a situation where they
have to do had thin s" I was

stunned at this moving defense of
Israeli soldiers by a Palestinian
mother. 'Abeer went on to tell the
story of how she first began to see
that the Israelis were people, too,
and not a sub-human enemy.
"Our father was very sick with
cancer when I was 14 years old.
My nine-year-old brother had been
up by the road throwing stones at
soldiers. When he ran back to our
house, the soldiers began to chase
him to arrest him. When the sol-
diers found our house, they came
in to seize him. But then they saw
my father, who was clearly very sick
and dying. They looked at my father,
and looked at my brother and told us
that they would not arrest my broth-
er because of our sick father. Then
they left. I knew at that moment that
these soldiers were people too, and
that they and the other Israelis have
the same feelings that we do."
It was incredible to hear her
express such empathy and even
sympathy with the Israelis. When
it all comes down to it, we all are
human. And while it's easy to criti-
cize and condemn, it is much more

LSA senior Pauline Lewis spent her summer in Palestine.

cal research was that it took too
long for biomedical research
at the basic level to translate
directly into results for medical
treatment. He also believed that
the nation needed more clinical
researchers. To address these
issues, he developed a program

Attention Students!
Meet the Regents!.
You are invited to meet informally with members
of the Board of Regents at a
Thursday, September 21, 2006
10:30 -11:30 a.m.
Wolverine Rooms
Michigan Union
Light refreshments will be served

called the "Roadmap Initiative,"
which is largely based on a new
award system called the Clini-
cal and Translational Science
Award. The CTSA is designed
to get current clinical research
centers, which operate under an
older model, to develop a new,
more effective model. He has
proposed that about 1.5 percent
of the NIH budget - $420 mil-
lion - be set aside for this pro-
gram, although currently only
0.8 percent is currently desig-
nated for it.
Under better times, the proposal
might not have been as controver-
sial. But a large number of basic
scientists feel like this money will
inevitably go to waste.
In the same editorial quoted
earlier, Marks voiced his con-
cern that the NIH is already
wasting too much money on
poorly structured clinical stud-
ies. In the editorial, he points to
a $400 million study "proclaim-
ing that high-fat diets do not
increasethe riskof disease."
Marks snidely wrote that
while the study was probably
designed "by a committee of
well-intentioned experts ... the
NIH should not fund large clini-
cal studies that divert hundreds
of millions of dollars away from
hypothesis driven scientific
research; pharmaceutical com-
panies should."
Some would argue that this
experiment isn't unusual. In
August, John Ioannidis pub-

lished an essay titled "Why
Most Published Research Find-
ings Are False," in the Public
Library of Science Medicine
journal. The essay is currently
the third most popular article on
the PLoS medicine website.
Marks is not nearly as critical
as Ioannidis of the current state
of research, but his Marks's
editorial is still heavily critical
of Zerhouni's initiative. In his
editorial, he issued four solu-
tions to the current problems
the NIH faces:
1) Increase congressional
2) Shelve the roadmap initia-
3) Have pharmaceutical compa-
nies fund large clinical studies.
4) Revamp the process for
funding established researchers.
Marks's points have inspired a
lot of debate among biomedical
researchers. Many basic scien-
tists have taken his side, giving
their support to the current sys-
tem based on investigator-initi-
ated research. The ROl grant,
the primary award for indepen-
dent investigation, is based off
hundreds of years of the scien-
tific tradition, in the pattern of
Pasteur, Newton, Da Vinci and
other historic scientists. The
vast wealth of resources bio-
medical research draws upon is
hated in the tradition of science
for science's sake. Marks, and
many other basic scientists, jus-
tifiably feel that this established

productive to understand, and to
try and see ourselves in the other's
position. Labeling all Israelis as war
criminals is just as wrong as label-
ing all Palestinians as terrorists.
Fighting fire with fire is no way
to go about ending the generaliza-
tions, the enemization or the result-
ing violence. So, thank you 'Abeer,

for being able to put yourself in the
boots of the Israeli soldier. Perhaps
on my next trip to Israel, Iwill meet
an Israeli soldier who can put his
feet in your shoes.
Pauline is an LSA senior and
can be reached at plucylew@

I I a : %: --OVA ___ 0 " - _- =-- - - _R_:%: _ , , - - - N

At tention Students!
Meet the Regents!

You are invited to meet informally with members
of the Board of Regents at a
Thursday, September 21, 2006
10:30-w 11:30 aim.
Wolverine Rooms
Michigan Union
Light refreshments will be served

Lewis sightseeing during her time in Palestine.

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