This course was very eye opening for me as I was fairly ignorant about the Near East, in the past – relying on the information I received from the media to educate me. For starters, the term “Near East” is new to me, as I always used the term “Middle East” to refer to this region in the past. I love the idea of using “Near East” as a reminder that this is a region that is very close to us – it is where our history began and it is where we are going. One of the big things that surprised me during this course was realizing just how many external parties were involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and what that looks like in terms of the security dynamics in the country. This changed my perception on some of the tactics Israel used during the war to protect their own land, as I now understand that some of these means are necessary as Israel is threatened by not only Palestine, but many other Arab nations as well (particularly the Iranian nuclear threat). I was most surprised to learn about China’s involvement in the region as this was a nation I never thought has interests in this area.