A Boise State English professor is using her online diary to give American audiences a harrowing glimpse of life in and around the West Bank. Dr. Marcy Newman was recently awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant to lecture and conduct research at the University of Jordan until 2006. While in the Middle East, she is also regularly updating her blog, titled "Body on the Line," chronicling everything from political protests to military checkpoint etiquette to the perils of riding the bus in Al Quds. A political agitator not afraid to speak her mind-even to an assault rifle-toting soldier-Newman gives a fiery account of the tenuous relationship between many modern Jews' political beliefs and their Jewish heritage. While Jewish herself, Newman is an outspoken opponent of the Israeli occupation of the Gaza strip, writing, "I'm here to support Palestinian people, not to perpetuate the occupation." As such, she often comes into conflict with the Biblically-minded Israelis, as she shows in an August 11 entry:
"On the way home I wandered through the sea of yarmulkes, orange ribbons and soldiers to find what I imagined would be a safe seat. Unfortunately, a soldier with an M-16 wanted to sit next to me. I told her that I didn't want to sit next to a soldier with a weapon and she started yelling at me to get up and move or pay for the empty seat ... I could not help of think of other contexts in which other people were someplace first and the Israeli soldiers made them leave. So I asked them why Israeli soldiers always think they have the right to tell people to leave where they are even though they were there first. I asked them to think about the Palestinian parallels to this context. I got up and moved as I said this, but the uproar that ensued in the front of the bus was unbelievable. People yelled at me, asking me to leave the country-so much for this being a homeland for all Jews."
Somewhere between the conflicts and the history lessons-about everything from the disputed geography to the Israeli "refusenik" conscientious objector movement-Newman's dry wit still comes through. "It's amazing how the Israeli Occupation Forces can ruin a person's day," she writes. To read Newman's blog, visit http://bodyontheline.blogspot.com.