Migration Reporting

JRN449, Fall 2023

Week Eleven Readings Jalynn

I think that it is important the organizations are helping to fund things like this graphic novel.  Art is integral to social change and also helps convey stories long after their moments have pasted.  I think also especially as the demographics of schools change and some children over the course of their education in Germany see this it helps.  Making books or art like this helps build understanding for children and make the event normative and children’s experiences inclusive.  I think that it is a worthy cause.

In relation to expanding the scope of being prosecuted for war crimes in the holocaust I have mixed feelings.  I think that in some ways we will never know who agreed with this regime anf who went along with it for means of protecting themselves and their families.  Making it more expansive allows possibly more people brought to justice.  However it feels very late. Very few people are still alive anf so instead of investigating everyone its basically a tax on who has managed to live long enough for this change of heart.  Though it is not double jeopardy in the legal sense it seems like it theoretically.  In the immediate aftermath of the war the government and allied powers chose who to try and whose crimes could not be.  Essentially in the public eye they were acquitted of their role.  To have a change of heart and widen the scope convicts them of crimes they were guilty of from the beginning. To say there is no statue of limitations on murder is true but these are not new crimes so it seems a reach to me.  I also don’t feel it does the justice they think it does.  I could easily see the far-right spinning it in an unfavorable light.  I understand the point of bringing it back to public attention the horrors of the Holocaust but it seems more symbolic than productive.

This discussion of prosecuting Russia makes me think of Israel and Palestine. Many people are calling for prosecution of Israel on the world Stage.  If in a war where much of the World Powers are on the side of Ukraine and still prosecution seems out of reach, the chances of Israel being prosecuted seem grim.  The Roman statue and Israels exclusion from it put the war crime of aggression out of  reach for prosecution.  Also it was important to note the differing Opinions of the West and the Global south about solutions.  The Global South’s apprehension came out of the economic power that Russia has.  I wonder if this figures into the Global South’s opinion on Israel and Palestine as well.

Looking at Eli Saslow’s works I think they are very compelling works.  They all read like profile’s but also highlight important issues.  The article about the bus driver is compelling because he plays up how stressful her job is and also the bravery that she displays.  Similarly, in the article about the billionaire he offers almost opposing sides of them.  We see the almost addictive habit the billionaire has to keep making money but also his desire to give back.  I like that both start and end with quotes from the subjects.  While they may throughout the piece broaden the frame of the story this centers the subject.

Week 10 Response

This week’s reading on the “American racial reckoning” had me thinking a lot about the conversation about social media that we have been having over the course of the semester and especially over the last few weeks. In large part, it was social media that and reposting and infographic economy that fueled massive changes in American corporate culture and in the market more largely. For maybe the first time, I saw in action the economics of PR and the monetary payoff of maintaining an image of corporate social responsibility. It was apparent even on our campus – I am a SPIA major, not a Woody Woo major as I would have been if I entered Princeton a year earlier. I lived in First College, formerly known as Wilson College. Years before, student staged a sit in of Nassau Hall to ask for the same and were ignored. The social media storm changed everything. It could be argued these are performative changes, but it does mean something to the people that live in these buildings and work for degrees under these names. That said, affirmative action was also repealed this year. Arguably, this campus saw more conversation about the names of buildings than a monumental Supreme Court decision that changes the fabric college campuses forever.


I say all this because when I see the DEI phenomenon similarly. It is not meaningless in my eyes. Just the validity assigned to issues that fall under that category is worth something. There is very real pressure in corporations to make hiring decisions that reflect equity of opportunity and representation in a way that there was never before. But at the same time, is it like adding a little bandaid over a gaping problem without the proper infrastructure to handle it? As they write in the Niemen Lab article: “Griffin said OPB learned the hard way that reporters will feel as if they’re failing if OPB doesn’t build the editing infrastructure alongside them. That’s why OPB decided to put reporters covering public health, policing, and legal affairs under a social justice editor, to ensure those beats are being edited with an eye toward how those issues intersect.”


This idea of follow-up of DEI practices with actual infrastructure s something that I’ve felt personally felt deeply at Princeton. It is one thing to be invited and another to be included and practically involved and it is imperative to not only recognize this difference but act on it across social, news and other institutions.


Moving to the Bass works, the discussion about international law further underscored the rather disheartening themes that we’ve been reiterating this semester. International accountability struggles to become anything beyond a triumph of the victor, even when the victor is on the side of justice. Douglas MacArthur was “the effective dictator of Japan” as the New York Times said. Until the international arena finds a way to achieve diplomacy beyond muscle flexing, the space for justice or even basic human decency is bleak.

Week Ten Readings-Jalynn

I was particularly interested in the article about Journalism and racial reckoning.  Just hearing the names of the reporters that they hired produced a very salient reaction fore me.  All I could think was how in modern times could we really think having one person covering a beat of an extensive magnitude is justice to anyone.  I know much comes back to Black Americans and the BLM Movement helped spark important change.  But there are many other important  and historically relevant cultures to particular areas a newsroom may cover.  Having one person from a particular minority community speak for all is offensive.  It was also disheartening the expectations some papers had for sometimes emerging departments.  The fact that some people were required to put out the same amount of work while having to start from scratch with contacts or turn out more stories to keep up with page views are insane.  I appreciated the belief that including diversity in all stories and subjects. The intention of diversity movements and reform is to get to the point where it is the standard and not atypical.  I liked that one writer was conscience of going to professors from historically black colleges and not just pwi professors.  Its little things that can go far in making real change.

I also was interested in the war tribunal and specifically Gary Bass’s book.  The more I think about them in the context of Nuremberg and Tokyo or even in the wars that are unfolding presently I feel very pessimistic.  I took a class about Environmental Policy and we discussed at length about how hard it is to incentivize country participation and also to hold those who were apart of treaties, parties, agreements, etc accountable.  I think much of what we talked about is relevant.  There are always economic incentives and disincentives that permeate how a countries held accountable.  It is a major reason why the US is never held accountable.  Also due to sovereignty over your own country there is no legitimacy in international processes unless nation give it that.  When it no longer fits their needs a country can choose to leave agreements which weakens legitimacy.  I think even as I am aware of the atrocities our country has committed.  I think its a foregone conclusion that no one will ever be tried and convicted in the international courts.  I think also on some level the western influence as we have been taught through our historical education is that we as the USA are the sole arbiters of justice.  We see injustice and we go in and stop it.  We can’t be convicted because we are the ones that convict.  Anything that is done is a means that justifies our hopeful ends.  While this is false and western centric view I think for so long the US has operated under this mentality for so long.  I think this is why Bass can point out the hypocrisy of our country but does not call for much further.  In many ways it is an accepted truth.

“I aspire to make a difference”: A Yazidi Refugee’s Quest to Rebuild his Life through Education

“I’m 22 years old,” said Saad Salih, a Yazidi refugee from the Sinjar district in Northwest Iraq, “and I have never gone to school.”

Salih arrived illegally in Germany about 5 months ago, after finally escaping the Yazidi genocide by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Sinjar in 2014. Now, he’s trying to educate himself and rebuild his life in Germany while facing the risk of deportation.

According to Salih, he is one of over 50,000 Yazidis in Germany facing the risk of deportation. Over 30,000 Yazdis have already been issued official deportation orders by the German government, leaving them with no formal access to education or work opportunities. “The future of Yazidis [in Germany] is uncertain; Germany is deporting us because they think Sinjar is not a war zone anymore, but simultaneously it is strongly encouraging its own citizens to leave [Iraq] promptly because of instability caused by active militias…the same militias that Germany acknowledged are committing genocide against the Yazidis!”

“When I was 13 years old, the Islamic State attacked my village,” Salih said. “I lost everything then: my childhood, my friends, members of my family; they took my brothers,” he pauses, “for 9 years I didn’t know if they were alive.” In August 2014 ISIS forces conquered Salih’s hometown Sinjar — the ancestral homeland of the Yazidis — and declared an Islamic Caliphate in the region, explains Professor David Simon, Director of the Genocide Studies Program (GSP) at Yale University. “To ISIS, the Yazidis are infidels,” says Professor Simon, “and in their minds this justifies violence toward the Yazidi people; they killed thousands of men and sold thousands of women into sex slavery.”

“We are killed just for our beliefs,” says Salih with sadness in his eyes, “which most people misunderstand!” A revered figure in Yazidism is Tawûsî Melek, a fallen angel forgiven and returned to heaven by God. But “people mistakenly identify Tawûsî Melek with the figure of Shaytan (or Satan)” in Judeo-Christian tradition, says Salih. For this reason, the Yazidis have been deemed “devil worshippers,” making them a target for religious persecution historically. “ISIS attacks on Yazidis are, in fact, genocidal.” says Professor Simon. “Unfortunately, 2014 wasn’t the first, but the 73rd time the Yazidis have faced genocide in their history.”

Like many undocumented Yazidi asylum seekers, Salih cannot attend school or seek employment in Germany because of his “illegal” immigration status. But “I don’t just want to sit around and do nothing all day,” Salih says as he unzips his backpack to reveal books he is currently reading. For 9 years of his life, all Salih had was a cellphone, internet when he’s lucky, a few pairs of clothes, and the resolve to go somewhere he can find an education. “Every child should get the chance to go to school; education is a human right,” said Salih. Over the past three years, Salih has taught himself some “basic math and English by watching YouTube videos and reading online,” he says humbly. “Nothing can stop him from learning,” says his friend Shireen Tôhildan, “he loves it [and] he is so smart he does it all on his own!” Now, Salih is teaching himself German and basic coding in Python, even though he does not have a computer or formal access to language classes.

In response to deportation orders issued by the government, a group of Yazidi refugees organized a hunger strike outside the Reichstag Building, home to the German parliament, where Salih volunteered to be a translator. “I know some German but now I cannot go to German class, so I cannot work, because I’m [facing] deportation,” said Omar Zaidi, a Yazidi asylum seeker who just received a deportation order. Yazidis all over Germany are receiving deportation notices, and as a result their now “illegal” immigration status bars them from taking German classes or working. Many at the protest resonated that this was a major struggle in rebuilding their lives in Germany. Some Yazidis have received notices that give them a deadline to leave the country, while others have received notices without specified deadlines leaving them in limbo.

“In January [2023], the German government passed a memo recognizing the 2014 massacre of Yazidis by ISIS to be a genocide, but now the government is deporting us to the same place we are facing the genocide?” says Salih. “I’m not Iraqi, I am Yazidi. No one in Iraq care[s] about us, the government persecutes us, ISIS kills us, if I go back I will die,” says Firaz Sha, a Yazidi asylum seeker protesting his deportation order at the hunger strike. Professor Simon concurs with Ahmed’s assessment that Sinjar is not safe for return yet, despite the “announced withdrawal” of ISIS fighters in 2019. “The special risk factors for genocide pre-2019 the Yale GSP mentioned in its 2019 report still persist in Sinjar today,” says Professor Simon, “it is not safe for Yazidis to return.” Martin Sichert, a member of the AfD (Alternative for Germany) party in the German parliament, acknowledging the strikers claim that the Yazidis continue to face genocide in Iraq said, “we are deporting the wrong people.”

When asked about his future in Germany, Salih said his only hope for a future comes from educating himself and others. “I want to learn so that someday I can get a job and my work can help people; I want to help the Yazidi people, the German people, and most of all I want to teach the children like me who couldn’t go to school,” says Salih. “I don’t just aspire to live in Germany, I aspire to make a difference here!”

Week 9 Reading Response

I found this week’s readings to be like scenes from a movie — introducing the reader to an alien land far, far, away. They showed a reality few outside the couple million who are compelled to live in it will ever experience, exposing both the cost of war on a very individual level for some and the privilege of indifference afforded to others. Whether it is following the dancers, whether it is the garbage collector, or the Afghan refugee, these stories show a world and a life foreign to most of the intend readership. So, I wonder, how differently the people in these stories maybe experiencing the same events?

I don’t mean to undermine this form of journalism, it’s incredibly courageous, and offers insight to the reader that they wouldn’t otherwise see — but it attempts to capture the experience of a people it need not understand. In a world where power is inherently imbalanced, the experiences of some lives are inherently given more attention than others — perhaps this is the closest mainstream media will get to understanding a foreign (in every sense of the word) experience.

In the story with the dancers, the woman’s need to keep her own daughters safety tucked away and educated using money obtained from selling someone else’s daughter and herself aptly underlines the theme of degradation of morality as a consequence of war present in the piece. From being in a nightclub, to the consumption of alcohol and drugs and sex, and the act of doing “business” in such a setting shows in some way that fleeing a war leaves people with few options for leading a life.

The story of the garbage collector gives an avenue into the state of dysfunction in his society, from the double standard in sexual expectations to a glimpse into a traditional household. And finally, In Naked don’t Fear the Water, the story of Aikins following his translator Omar on his journey to Europe, as Aikins himself notices, there is a disconnect in his Aikin’s expectation of what Omar should react to being given his fully paid opportunity to going to Europe and from what Omar actually reacts like. As Jessica Goaddeua puts it, “Omar is not a stock character — the revolutionary hero calculated to rally Western sympathy,” what Aikins expected Omar to be, “but his friend, sad and homesick.”

Week Nine Readings-Jalynn

I really enjoyed all of the readings we had to do this week.  But I think the one that captivated me the most was the “What the Garbage Knows,”.  It was such a well done story because it takes this one man’s story and ties it to so many of the issues that face Cairo and Egypt.  As someone who is not familiar with the geopolitical landscape of this country but in seeing it translated through this man’s life I was able to get a clearer understanding of the society he inhabited.  I appreciated that is started pretty informally and was about Sayyid and then unfolds about how the journalist came to meet him. I also appreciated that we learned more about Sayyid organically and his life unfolded as the story progressed.  This felt liek we were in the shoes of the writer as when we get to know someone we see them as these very one dimensional figures that is shaped by how we meet them.  There is this one cool thing like how he knows so much about people from his job picking up their trash.  But then Sayyid becomes this complex character and we learn about his home life and more of the complexity of who he is as a person.  I think the author does. A good job of inserting some of the biases he may have had about Sayyid like how well off he was and letting the discovery of his relative well being play later int he story.  Overall, what I loved most was that this story affected my mood throughout.  It started off very entertaining and gripped me with some of its humor.  But then it became sadder and also I questioned Sayyid as a person because his flaws were revealed.  And then I felt anxious about the deterioration of their marriage and wanted to see how it would resolve.  The ending nicely structures the relationship Sayyid and Wahiba, his wife, with the conditions of the country after revolution.

I liked also the sample of the Naked Don’t Fear the Water.  I feel like we were starting to get a good picture of Omar and Matthieu’s relationship.  I however, don’t think I can make a fully informed decision about my opinion of the piece because we were write at the beginning of the story when the sample cuts off.  I can only glean from the book review that it is an honest account but I feel like I won’t pass judgements on the piece yet.  I think embeds are very interesting and this book was in many ways in embed though not in the military obviously.  I find it incredibly brave that anyone would willing choose to enter into such dangerous situations.  I understood Matthieu’s willingness to go through the process with his friend but the journalists who willing entered dangerous territory seems so far fetched to me.  Lastly Dancing For Their Lives I feel did a really good job of sharing the overall story.  We didn’t go in depth to any one person as much as the previous two do but I think we can get a sense that these women are doing what it takes to survive.  I thought that the line “Lingering together in this comfortable female place, homesick, they were preparing to live off their bodies,” was particularly a brilliant line.  I think it set up the piece well and connected to the title of the piece as well.

Ukraine Makes New Grain Corridor. But Will it Stop Russia?

In July, Russia withdrew from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, a wartime deal that ensured the safety of Ukrainian vessels passing through the sea shared by both nations. The collapse of the deal thwarted Ukraine’s ability to export its grains without fear of Russian retaliation.

Yet, in September, two vessels safely arrived in Ukraine’s ports without any response, violent or otherwise, from Moscow.

Now, even more ships are headed towards Ukraine, despite the looming threat that Russia might intervene with missiles at any time.

On October 4, Ukraine’s navy announced that they expected 12 more cargo vessels to arrive at Ukrainian ports. These ships are utilizing a new maritime corridor set up by Ukraine after Russia withdrew from the Black Sea Grain Initiative in July 2023.

Russia’s withdrawal from the grain initiative didn’t come as a surprise, as Putin had voiced discontent with it for months prior. But now that Ukraine has found a way to circumvent Moscow’s attempts to hinder their exports, new questions arise. Is this a new phase of the war? How will Putin react to the unsanctioned corridor? Scholars at Princeton University suggest it signals Putin’s resolve to wage a more aggressive trade war, and that it’s only a matter of time before Moscow forcibly puts an end to the new corridor.

History of the grain deal

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, formally known as the “Initiative on the Safe Transportation of Grain and Foodstuffs from Ukrainian ports,” was an agreement brokered by the United Nations and Turkey between Ukraine and Russia in July of 2022. The deal guaranteed Ukraine a corridor in the Black Sea to continue exporting their grains across the world despite the war.

The deal highlighted a positive development in the war and proved a rare moment of consensus in an enduring conflict. The initiative stabilized grain prices worldwide and was lauded as a “beacon of hope” by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres. It also provided Putin with the leverage to negotiate Russia’s uninterrupted exportation of agricultural goods and fertilizer. Putin expressed that he felt this part of the deal wasn’t being upheld by the West, and despite Guterres’ efforts to meet his demands, the deal fell apart. Notably, levels of Russian exports of food are higher than they were last year, and the amount of agriculture and fertilizer exports are also significant, in contrast to Moscow’s stated grievances.

Now that Ukraine has established a new corridor for exporting their grains without Russia’s assistance or approval, it raises the question: how will Russia react? Putin’s track record of flagrant disregard for the rules of war probably won’t stop in light of this new corridor. Especially since his withdrawal from the grain deal can be thought of as both a manner of “influenc[ing] international policy” and of “blackmail[ing] the rest of the world to get what they want,” according to Yana Prymachenko, a Ukrainian research scholar in Princeton University’s Department of History.

This new corridor deal between Ukraine, Romania, and Turkey is in strict opposition to Putin’s two likely reasons for denying the corridor: establishing international influence and blackmail. Additionally, Russia itself is an exporter of grains, making it more likely that Putin will try to put a stop to this corridor.

Why a new grain corridor is important

Ukraine has long been known as the ‘breadbasket of the world.’ The renewed export of Ukraine’s grains is imperative for not only domestic economic stability, but also worldwide famine relief.

“It’s quite an interesting position… on the one hand you possess this great resource. But on the other hand, it puts you at the center of a lot of mass violence,” says Luliia Skubytska, an associate research scholar in the program of Judaic Studies at Princeton University.

Ukraine’s crops account for 30% of the world’s supply of sunflower oil and 4% of the world’s wheat. Some countries are even more dependent, like Libya, where 44% of their wheat originates from Ukraine. Such dependence has been the source of conflict in not just Russia-Ukraine, but historically, in World War I and World War II, according to Skubytska. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 made wheat prices soar globally, and the same thing happened again when Russia withdrew from the grain initiative in July 2023.

Although many celebrated its creation, some Ukrainians were more critical of the grain deal, believing it to be a “very colonial approach from the West,” explained Prymachenko. To its critics, the grain deal merely signaled how quickly Western powers could resolve a problem (two days, in this instance) when it directly affected their own economic interests. In the Ukrainian perspective, people wonder, “Why couldn’t the war end in two days?” said Prymachenko.

A new kind of war, a trade war

Although the grain deal did benefit Putin in that it allowed Russia to export agricultural goods despite Western sanctions, it was probably not his sole motive for the deal, according to Prymachenko. Turkey served as the orchestrator and moderator between Ukraine and Russia on this grain deal. During this time, there also happened to be an election underway in Turkey.

Many observers believe that Putin signed this deal to support the presidential campaign of Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Once these votes were in, Putin reasoned it was okay to back out of the deal, says Prymachenko. Erdogan is a “convenient partner” for Putin because of his similarly authoritarian politics, Prymachenko explained.

Alternatively, Putin may have initially signed the deal to appease Western powers and avoid burning any bridges, according to Prymachenko. The outcome of the war was “not so obvious” in July 2022, says Prymachenko. Once Putin decided to change his course on the war, he leaned into a trade war. When the West didn’t meet his expectations, he essentially used the grain corridor, or lack thereof, as provoked, and therefore justified, blackmail, says Prymachenko.

Observers point to the arrival of unharmed vessels in Ukraine’s ports as a sign of a positive development in the nation’s counteroffensive, and that Ukraine’s offensive is stronger than previously thought.

However, it might not be that Putin doesn’t want to do anything about these vessels, but rather that he can’t just yet, explained Skubytska. Several artillery bases in Crimea have been destroyed by Ukrainian special forces, effectively wiping out the long-range missiles Russia needs to attack these vessels in the new corridor.

“The question is, how long will it take Russia to replace these things [missiles]?” says Skubytska.

Until Russia has replenished their long-range missiles, restoring their ability to impede the routes of these vessels through the new grain corridor, it may be too early to say whether the corridor is truly a success or not.


Germany’s refugee policies prioritize Ukrainians over Afghans, experts warn

Amidst Germany’s worsening housing crisis, an influx of new migrants, and rising anti-immigrant sentiment, experts have warned that the German government’s current asylum policies give preferential treatment to Ukrainian refugees over their Afghan counterparts.

For nearly a decade, Germany has taken in by far the most refugees out of all the European nations. In 2015, in the face of Middle Eastern crises that had displaced millions from their home countries, then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel adopted asylum policies that led the country to accept the vast majority of the refugees fleeing to Europe. As a result, between 2015 and 2021, Germany granted asylum to 1.24 million refugees, most of whom came from Syria and Afghanistan.

But following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, an influx of nearly one million Ukrainian refugees threatened to overwhelm Germany’s migrant processing system, leaving the government scrambling to find additional housing for the new refugees amidst a nationwide housing shortage.

In some cases, the government chose to prioritize the needs of Ukrainian refugees over Syrian or Afghan refugees. “[Some] Afghans were in hotels for more than a year before [the German government managed to] find them proper housing,” said Abdul Wahid Wafa, the former director of the Afghanistan Center at Kabul University. “But there was a lot of news about the different kind of welcome by the government [for Ukrainians].”

Indeed, in April 2022, Foreign Policy reported that Berlin’s local government was displacing Afghan refugees from state-provided accommodations to free up room for Ukrainian refugees. “Of course it’s not the Ukrainians’ fault, but we have to reflect on our solidarity if it’s only targeting certain people,” Tareq Alaows, a board member of the Berlin Refugee Council, told Foreign Policy. “The last months showed that different treatment of refugees is possible.”

Since the Russian invasion, Afghan refugees have also voiced frustrations that they are subject to far more restrictive integration policies than their Ukrainian counterparts. Under the European Union’s Temporary Protection Directive, Ukrainians are automatically granted asylum upon arrival in Germany and are eligible to begin working immediately. In contrast, most Afghan refugees are only granted a temporary residence permit while they wait to apply for asylum. “[With only a temporary residence permit,] you don’t have the right to take integration courses, you cannot apply for university courses or degrees, and sometimes you don’t even have a work permit,” said Khusraw Amiri, a staffer in the Afghan consulate of Munich (which still represents the former Afghan republican government, not the Taliban regime).

Of course, there are pragmatic reasons for enforcing different policies for the two groups of refugees, noted Wafa. “Ukrainians are considered short-term migrants who will [return to Ukraine after the war], but for countries in the Middle East, it’s not the case,” he said.

Ukrainian refugees also share more cultural and linguistic ties with their hosts, easing the refugees’ integration into German society. “Ukrainians are from Europe; they are close neighbors, and they are closer in terms of culture and language and their way of clothing,” Wafa added.

But according to Wolfgang Danspeckgruber, a Princeton University professor who studies modern Afghan and European affairs, part of the difference in refugee policies should be directly attributed to racism. “[I know someone] who fell in love with an Afghan refugee,” he said. “After seven years, [the refugee] couldn’t even get a passport, because he’s Afghan and Muslim. That’s it. That’s the story.”

Germany’s flailing economic health could also play a factor in the disparities between Afghan and Ukrainian refugees. “If the economy isn’t doing that well, [attitudes toward migrants] will be even more antagonistic,” Danspeckgruber said. “If you feel that you are in a total crisis mode [at home], you will protect first those who are part of your wider family, which the Ukrainians are — and which all the others outside Europe are not.”

Indeed, Danspeckgruber warned that far-right political parties are using Germany’s economic situation to stoke increasingly nativist views toward migrants from the Middle East, which will exacerbate policy differences. “[People are now] super conscientious of the ‘them versus us’ [narrative],” he said. “The ‘them’ are the Islamists, meaning the Afghans and other non-Judeo-Christian migrants in Europe.”

Current attitudes and unequal treatment aside, however, Wafa argued Germany still bears a high degree of moral responsibility for Afghan refugees at the end of the day. “[European] countries went [to Afghanistan] for 20 years; they had forces there, soldiers were there, and they had a lot of projects,” he said. “There is a lot of obligation as human beings and as part of a member of nations around the world to keep these migrants.”

Week 7 Post

I found the readings this week interesting.  Especially because it related a lot to what we saw and heard while we were in Berlin.  The first article really grounded a lot of what is being shown in the media.  Even as I read some of the other articles and current event on the war it was obvious the biases that can sometimes bleed through.  The way in which sometimes the articles emphasizes the disinformation for things Israel has done and then will say something about Hamas or Palestine.  I don’t know if it is intentional but I saw it after reading the first article.  I also think these articles about disinformation made me think about my social media.  We read how the Ukrainian War was remarked as the first Tiktok War.  The use of social media can be very difficult.  In many ways there is propaganda that is being pushed.  We want people to believe in our viewpoints and so we can promote harms against people and also so that we can make apparent what the other side is doing.  When there is this incentive it can be dangerous.  People who want clikcs or shares or likes can have the incentive to put out dangerous and false narratives to get people with this goal to share the post on their platforms.  I am scared as AI advances that people may start to use that to fabricate pictures from war.  At least with reusing exisiting pictures from other wars it can be tracked rather quickly.  However, AI is dangerous in that sometimes it isn’t easy to tell.  Furthermore in one article it cited that when people were looking to find coverage of the ground do to Israel bombing towers that allowed service and electricity much of the documentation that we saw in the Ukraine War did not happen in this current war.  The absence of this made people more eager and also more susceptible to disinformation.

I think also the article about the US military and the use of cyber warfare was really interesting.  As I was reading I thought it was cool but alos weird.  This is because they essentially were acting like the actors you see in movies and studying peoples habits.  Especially when they were doing the simple hacks that would annoy people as a means of slowing down this very serious terrorist organization.  Also, found it interesting and wondered at the beginning why they would be sharing this.  It seemed like the type of work that should be kept secret but here they were broadcasting it on multiple news sources.  But then when they explained that in order for them to be dangerous people had to know about it I understood.  I also as the pointed out thought about how talk of Russia hacking us was so prevalent.  I would always wonder what we did when they did it and how dangerous it was to our national security.  The article pointing out that we didn’t know how we reacted was really cool because it means that there may be actions that we do back but that as the public we are not privy too.  I like them are concerned with as cyber warfare becomes an important means of combat what that may mean for our society.  A lot of times we get away with engaging in wars because they don’t happen on U.S. soil.  With cyber warfare this may just change the game and eventually have repercussions on citizens of the US.

Lia’s Post

Our day began on arguably one of the most important streets in Berlin right now: the Sonnenalle located in the Neukölln neighborhood. Both the street and the neighborhood are home to a large Middle Eastern immigrant population, hosting many Syrian, Afghan, and Palestinian migrants. In light of the recent escalation of the Israel-Palestine conflict, this area has been home to pro-Palestine demonstrations, though Berlin has banned such rallies and the appearance of Palestinian flags in public. While our group did not witness any demonstrations, pro-Palestinian stickers, graffiti, and tapestries lined the Sonnenalle. Some shops even had flags hanging outside despite the ban. 

But politics aside, once you stepped foot onto the street, the aroma from Middle Eastern restaurants and pastry shops pulled you in. Our group went to a place called Azzam Restaurant, where we devoured delicious, classic falafel, and halloumi, a squeaky fried cheese. 

Our next stop was a pastry shop where the store owner gave us all samples of a spongy rose water sweet treat on our way out. After, we finished our time on the street with Turkish coffee. In classic Berlin fashion, we had to pay for it in cash. I only had a twenty euro bill on me. The owner casually dumped all of his change out to try to give me eighteen euros back, but eventually, we worked it out. I always forget how strong and distinct Turkish coffee is, but it was just the type of caffeine that I needed. 

Post-Sonnenallee, we traveled across town to the luxury Kempinski Hotel, located in the heart of Berlin to meet journalists, economists, and students from the Liechtenstein Institute on Self Determination (LISD). While my classmates and I wore business-casual (and I arguably was on the more casual side), the LISD students pulled out the three piece suits. We discussed what each of our groups were doing in the city. As our class was reporting, they were meeting diplomats, ambassadors, and public figures around Berlin and Paris. We all had the opportunity to speak to the guests as we feasted on mozzarella, salmon, and cake. As the lunch came to a close, I reflected on the differences in how each group of students approached the foreign policy topics we discussed. Many LISD students framed questions around specific policy outcomes, while we were more interested in the tangible implications of international relations for people on the ground. I assume this is the nature of the difference between our two groups, but it was interesting to watch this play out.

The most important part of my day came in the evening. After scarfing down burritos at a very aesthetically-pleasing Mexican restaurant in Kreuzberg, we walked to a neighborhood bar to interview Eyal Vex, an Israeli leftist. Vex moved to Berlin with his partner from Israel-Palestine eight years ago. Now, he worries for himself, his family, and his friends, as the conflict continues to escalate. Three years ago, right before the pandemic, he (and a few friends) opened AL Berlin, a cafe/bar/studio that hosted a variety of live musicians, different events, and meetings. A diversity of people headed to AL Berlin, but it largely was a safe haven to the Palestinian community, the Israeli leftist community, and the Middle Eastern queer migrant community. AL Berlin’s events were always widely attended, and they even had a 1,600-person festival that sold out last year. Unfortunately, the place recently closed due to an argument with a neighboring business. Vex wishes that the place was open to serve as a safe haven for Middle Eastern community members to meet and grieve. He plans on opening a new AL Berlin elsewhere, but no place is set-in-stone just yet. 

Vex also talked about his experience raising his two kids during the current conflict. He tells me how he used to let his six-year-old daughter travel to school each day by herself. Now, Vex opts to walk with her, fearing for her safety, but prefers to tell her that it’s “to spend time with her.” As he tries to navigate everything going on, he reflects on German history, his own experience, and what could be next for the country.

After leaving the bar we rejoined our Princeton bubble. In a random turn of events, my classmate Annie found out that it was Joshua’s birthday. The task in hand was clear: we had to find a cake. Although we couldn’t get one, we brought him a celebratory bright-pink donut and secretly messaged all of the class to show up where he was located. We ended the night chatting, dancing, and debriefing our very filled days.

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