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Islands of Stability: KGOU Contributors’ Impressions from Jordan and Israel

Over the past 11 months, the Zaatari refugee camp in Northern Jordan has hosted hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing that country’s civil war.

World Views host Suzette Grillot and regular contributor Rebecca Cruise visited the camp in early June, and witnessed some of the camp's newest arrivals.

“They had their life's belongings in a wheelbarrow,” Cruise says. “They were coming in with some hope, and unfortunately, I don't know hopeful the situation really is going to be for them. So that was very sad to see."

Jordan has taken in refugees from neighboring conflict zones for decades.

“They have a tremendous amount of Palestinians in the country after the Palestinian-Israeli conflict began,” Grillot says. “They [also] have refugees from Iraq.”

A 45 minute flight away in Tel Aviv, Grillot described a completely different, yet still complex place.

“We've talked to a lot of people about the Palestinian plight,” Grillot says. “Yet, Israel seems to be stable. There's a tremendous amount of coexistence.”

Cruise says even though Israel has been in a war-ready situation for nearly its entire existence, life goes on. They’ve seen many people out in the streets, and quite a bit of tourism.

“They really are flourishing,” Cruise says. “In many ways, it feels like a Western or European city, whereas Amman really did feel quite a bit different.”

Grillot says she’s optimistic after seeing Arab, Israeli, European, Asian, and American students working and studying together.

“I think if we can be hopeful at all, it's in that the young people in this part of the world are actually coming together and perhaps can provide us with some hopeful future to look forward to,” Grillot says.  

Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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