Emma Colbran

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I am in my last year at Tulane University, studying Political Science and Homeland Security. I am currently researching the abduction of Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, by Hamas on June 25, 2006. I am looking at the two narratives of this event, the Israeli and Palestinian, and what each side perceived to be the causes, events and consequences of this on their own community. I have analysed the sometimes open but often secret negotiations between Hamas and Israel often through third party negotiators, which led to Shallit’s release, as well as the release of 1000 Palestinian prisoners after 5 years.

Parallel Histories is important because it can change how students are taught a polarized conflict. In my view the US media does not do a good job explaining both sides. It gives students the ability to take in a balanced presentation of information about a conflict that really has no black and white answer or right or wrong side. Through my research I have learned that no one event or spurt of violence in this conflict is a stand-alone event. The most disputed question about any event in Israeli/Palestinian history is always – what started it? – because each side seeks a starting point which puts them on the moral high ground. It’s a reminder that the past is a continuous stream which historians sometimes arbitrarily chop up into phases. Contributing to this program has been a learning experience in how to conduct research, beyond a university classroom, and how to balance two contesting narratives and form an increasingly critical eye for information I find in articles and books.