Guest author: Oliver Fink, University of Basel

This summer has been a busy one and for the most part focused on events outside Israel / Palestine – a fascinating multidisciplinary summer school in Ivory Coast organized by several Swiss universities (when I moan & groan about my research project – imagine you have to spend two years continually observing a group of chimpanzees without ever leaving the national park you are based in), two interesting conference talks in Austria & Portugal combined with frantic grant writing due to inconvenient deadlines.

Here things haven’t been too encouraging in my absence: an upcoming election dreaded by most of our Israeli friends as they claim it won’t solve anything but instead make things worse, increasing outbreaks of violence in the Westbank and Gaza as well as attacks at the Syrian border.

Recently we have attended a colleague’s wedding near Jenin in the northern Westbank. Our Palestinian friends we drove with wanted to take the more direct but bumpy and curvy road 60 instead of the much more comfortable road along the Jordan valley, so we drove along all the recent hotspots of violence, every crossroad secured by heavily armed IDF soldiers. The contrast between the way up and the wedding was stunning – a peaceful village, beautiful bride, happy family, traditional and modern Arab music, dancing on a stage and the most delicious food I had in a long time.

Although there is by no means a guarantee for a happy end in the Middle East, let’s at least continue trying to work towards it…