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Purpose:

One of the least discussed topics in school is how conflicts effect individuals.  History tends to shy away from discussing how individuals are involved in the course of history to begin with, and conflicts are most often taught by listing the events that are relevant instead of addressing how people experienced the events.  As various forms of conflict, war and terrorism specifically, have become more prominent topics in recent years it is important that we pay attention to how people have viewed and dealt with these events.  Understanding the human aspect of conflicts is important as it not only gives one an understanding of the real consequences of certain actions; it also helps us to understand why things are the way they are.  Hopefully by taking a better look at various modern conflicts at a more personal level it will be possible to gain a better understanding of events, the people involved, and the changes that have occurred.

Topics Covered:

  • A defining moment in recent American history is that of 9/11, which is the day that a group of terrrorists hijacked 4 commercial jets and successful flew 3 of them into important American landmarks.  The places that were successfully attacked were the two World Trade Center towers,  in New York City, and the Pentagon, in Washington D.C..  The events that took place on 9/11 were viewed live by a large portion of the American public and the rest of the world.  The impact the destruction had on those involved and those who watched the events transpire can be difficult to gauge.  Almost 3,000 people died as a result of the terrorists' actions on 9/11, thousands lost close family members, and even those who did not personally experience the events may have been effected by the media coverage.  The consequences that 9/11 had are far reaching and have played a significant role on how history has progressed in the past 8 years.  The move made by the American government to go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq was motivated to some degree by the events of 9/11.  The majority of the reporting on 9/11 was on the events, personal accounts were covered in relation to the events and there was not a great deal of focus on the individuals.  Our hope is to put the focus on how people were effected by the events of 9/11, and use the resources that are available to do so.
  • Another event that gained significant media attention is that of the Mardid train bombings.  On March 11th 2004 several trains were severly damaged by bombs, which resulted in the death of 191 passengers and around 2,000 injuries.  The 4 trains that were attacked had been carrying passengers from a variety of countries.  Much like the September 11th attacks there was a sort of indifference shown by the terrorists in that they were willing to target individuals from all backgrounds.  The attacks provided the Spanish and the rest of Europe with a shocking moment that helped to bring home the point that terrorism was still a phenomenon that could strike anywhere.  The personal accounts drawn from this event show how brutal modern conflict can be, and hopefully help to make the consequences of violence a great deal more vivid and meaningful.
  • The attack perpetrated by terrorists in Mumbai caught the world offguard.  On November 26, 2008 a group of terrorists attacked a range of western targets in Mumbai, India.  The locations attacked were hotels, meeting places, and a hospital.  All the places that were targeted were primarily used by foreigners and the majority of those killed in the attacks were civilians, and were both native and foreign.  The reaction to these events has been complex as a result of the political circumstances that effect India.  Regardless, when looking at the impact the events had on the individuals involved, the pattern of effects seems to be similar to those experienced in the other situations we have highlighted.  The gruesome nature of the attacks, the focus on civilian targets, and the repercussions experienced all are representative of how modern conflicts are experienced.
  • The conflict between the Israelis and Palenstinians is not a new conflict but one that still holds a great deal of significance.  The struggle between the two groups over disputed territory has lead both sides to take actions, which have had lasting impacts on both groups societies.  The most recent skirmish over the Gaza Strip left both sides with civilian casualties and only served to further alienate the two groups from one another.  The Israelis and Palenstinians share similar experiences of lost loved ones, situations in which the people they know are subject to violence, and a pervasive fear of being victimized.  To get a better understanding of the situation on the ground we are going to look at several items that help give various perspectives on events in the region.