Monday, April 29, 2013

Final Reflection

A Roller Coaster Ride in Jerusalem
            As my final semester as a college student comes to a close, I have realized that it has been quite the up and down ride that I thought it would be.   However, I didn’t exactly know what the ups and downs would be.  With that said, I would say that the Living in Jerusalem class can be compared to my college career.  The ups and downs with not only the class, but also Jerusalem itself can be considered a good reflection of the last four years as a student.
            Although the first few weeks seemed like they were starting off slowly, they were very fast paced behind the scenes due to the rapid reading pace of Armstrong’s book.  I really thought that the book had a lot of ideas that could have gone for either side of the conflict, but also had a decent amount of dry history that was very hard to keep up with.  I will say that one of the factors behind this is because I do not have many ties to the situation overall even though I am Jewish.
            I came into the class because of my Jewish background and it looked interesting; I never knew that would turn into this wild ride that goes in so many different directions.  However, the more that I continued to read and learn about the topic, the more I realized that I was getting a grasp on the topics, little by little.  One of the biggest helping points to the class were the people that have experience with the conflict, whether through living in Israel, working for a group, or having family ties to either of the sides.  I could really tell that when they spoke about the topics that not only did they know what they wanted to say and stood by it, but they also felt as though they were apart of it.  It made me feel like I wanted to be a part of it as well, even though I did not have nearly as much background as they did.
            Now, as much as I enjoyed listening and learning from my classmates about the conflict, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the speakers that joined in from all over the world to give us their perspectives on either or both sides.  I really think that the videoconferences from these inspiring people make a difference for the class.  It was beneficial to see what they had done for the conflict, even if it was the smallest thing.  From my perspective, it made me realize that there are so many people that do small things to attempt to make difference and those people deserve to be recognized. 
            Even though the second half of the semester was a lot different from the first, I did not think that videoconferencing with the OSU class was as beneficial.  I know that most of the idea of conferencing with them is for the speakers, and I thought that it was supposed to be more of a combined class once I got used to the structure.  However, we never did anything with them and I think that the classes should either be connected more or only conference when speakers are on so we can both share their time on our respective campuses.
            Other than Armstrong’s book in the first few weeks of the semester, I would say that the most time consuming part of the class were the blog posts that were due once or twice a week.  There are so many different perspectives on the blog and I feel as though there are many pros and cons to them.  I really enjoyed how freely you could share your feelings about the conflict and the friendly conversations that came up in class about opposing opinions.  It allows people to translate their newly found form of translating online and bring it into the classroom as they please.  I know that I am not one to speak very often in class and it helped me get some opinions from others as well as demonstrate my own so others could read them.
            On the other side of the blogs, there are some complications that I had, especially when I first started using it.   Yes, I had never used a blog before and took awhile to get used to.  I felt like a lot of people had trouble using it at times and it was also difficult to keep up with the 30 opinions that were floating around every day of the week.  I know that we didn’t have to keep up with everyone’s blog each week, but reading from different sources each time sometimes created a stir for me.  I found that at times, some people were pouring in a lot more than others, while opinions were so different and felt that it was difficult to keep up with.
            Within the blog assignments, I believe that the weblog journal entries that we had were a great idea to counter the back and forth craziness of the conflict.  By having us think outside the box and more about our normal lives that are relating to the topic of the conflict that we were talking about at the time, I think it really helped me connect better and understand what we were really diving into.  At time I felt like I was being pushed so far into certain topics of the conflict, but then was relieved to see that a weblog was due in order to calm things down.
            I think that is all I have to say about the overall dimensions of the class, so I am going to talk a little bit about some specific things that really caught my eye during the semester.  I think that the extended class when we watched the movie about the orchestra was one of the best things we saw or talked about in the class.  It was so cool to see first hand how the group of people was bringing in kids from different backgrounds to play in the orchestra around Europe.  By examining all of the background interviews and obstacles that they had to go through to get this done, it really brings a different perspective on the situation.  The leaders had a goal and they would not give up and that shows the future of the conflict.  I do not think will give up because they have hope and they realize what they want.
            When I was gathering my thoughts after we saw that movie, I really wanted to do my project on something that inspired the future of the conflict.  I knew that I had wanted to focus on sports because my life is basically revolved around sports.  However, I didn’t have the right approach until I watched the orchestra video; then I decided that I wanted to focus on groups that bring together both sides and hope to make peace in the near future.
            My favorite sport is basketball and that was my main goal to focus on.  I had worked with kids this summer working for the Atlanta Hawks and it is such a wonderful experience.  I can only imagine how difficult, yet inspirational it is when working with these kids due to the emotions and behaviors that they bring with them before they start these programs.  The most important thing I learned is that sports really can make a difference in these kid’s lives and the future of their respective countries.  I have said all along that the future is in these children’s hands and the more people that get on board and change their opinions at a young age, the faster that the conflict can be resolved. 
            With all of those thoughts being brought to the table, I believe that there should be more interaction for the students in the class and the outside environment.  I believe that future students should have to engage in some outside activities in order to get more outside perspective from the class.  Although the speakers are very nice to hear from and answer our questions, I think that it is difficult to only rely on the people that you have talk to us for perspectives on the conflict.  As students, I think it would be beneficial to talk to other students, especially those that have a large background on the subject or have family members that are in the Middle East going through it themselves. 
            One of the things that I really think would change the dynamic of the class is some kind of background material to get more people that have knowledge on the conflict.  I know that I learned a lot while being a part of this class and not coming in with little prior knowledge, but I think about half the class felt this way and it showed in most of our classes that everyone was not fine-tuned into the discussions.  I can only imagine how many more opinions added to the class would create for bigger and better things for the Living in Jerusalem project.
            With that said, I am very fortunate that I was able to take the Living in Jerusalem class this semester.  I met a lot of great people and learned so many new things, in history and in the present.  I know that I am now more knowledgeable about the topic and will be able to carry conversations in the future when it gets brought up.  Although it was very challenging at times, I think that it was definitely worth my time and I hope that the class can continue to grow at IU and around the country.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Weblog 5

Coming into the class, I barely had any knowledge about either side of the argument, other than what I heard about violence in Israel from friends and family.  With that said, I am a Jew and from my prior knowledge I would be pro-Israel for everything.  Going into this class I had no idea what was going to happen with any of my views, but I definitely opened up my opinions.  From listening to all of the guest speakers and reading about people on both sides of the conflict, I really believe that it is the highest authorities involved that are making this difficult to solve.

I don't think my position has necessarily changed or strengthened, but I can say that my knowledge on the topic has definitely increased.  I know more about both sides than what I did before and I know that it isn't all about Palestinians just pouring terrorist attacks into Israel for no rhyme or reason.  Listening to people from the Palestinian side made me realize that they are not bad people or mean to hurt anyone, they just want peace as well.  Reading into the stories about Israeli and Palestinian kids getting together makes me want peace more in the Middle East.  It is sad that they cannot come together to make something work because of the obstacles within the governments.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Issues from the class

Overall, I think this class makes for a unique challenge that has so many twists and turns in itself.  With that said, there are some issues that do make it difficult to wrap your head around the information being brought to our attention.  One issue that I really struggled with in the beginning was the Armstrong book.  I think that all of the information was great, but just the thought of where she got her information and some parts where she seemed to lean to one side or the other really caught me off guard.  There was so much going on in the book and with it being the beginning of the semester, it took a lot longer to get in the groove of the overall content of the class between the book and the guest speakers.  Although I thought they were both beneficial, for me personally, I thought it put the class to a rough start.

With regards to the categories in my final paper, I think that there were many great suggestions thrown out yesterday and I agree with some of them.  The thought of reading Armstrong before class would help, but how many people would actually read the book before the semester? I think that there could be certain prerequisites that would help the class because if you come in already knowing the history, then the Armstrong book is basically not needed and can be used for more speakers/activities, etc.  I also thought that going to events is something interesting because being at things first hand rather than just watching videos or listening to them really makes a difference. Other things I would like to touch on are social media/blogs, speakers and their topics, and Jerusalem updates.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Reading Response 15

After looking through these websites, it is different, yet interesting, when looking from a perspective that you are not used to.  When looking around, you can tell how these people feel about themselves and what they want to accomplish.  They believe that they have the power to do what they want and fight for what they believe in, which brings so much confidence to a group of people.  The Open House blog is very interesting because it has different interns posting about the things they have done around Israel to support the group.  All of the different events that have gone on supporting the community really makes them feel like they are making a difference in people's lives.  I think that these people are making a name for themselves and showing people that freedom of choice exists.

The other website that really stood out to me was the city of borders documentary about the relationship between gays and Israelis/Palestinians in a Jerusalem gay bar.  There are so many people that can relate to this in Israel and I think that it is a great opportunity for the people who are a part of this movement.  They are only trying to create an environment for these people and they have the right to do what they want, even if their friends, family, or others disagree.  The big quote that really stuck out was from the Israeli bar owner that said When I read in the bible that I could be killed for being gay, I understood what it was like to be Palestinian.” I think that really makes a big impact in being the outside looking in and should give perspective to others doing similar moves in the future.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Reading Response 14

The two chapters from Amiry were very different from what we have been reading and I think it helps get through it easier.  On that note, I thought the second chapter was extremely interesting about how to get vaccinations for dogs in Jerusalem.  The relationship to actually getting a passport for your dog (which as I write this, still seems like one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard) can be compared to people in certain circumstances that are not allowed to go to certain places.  People in Israel and Palestine are not allowed in each others territories to a certain degree and it is amazing how powerful organizations are to make this kind of thing happen.  From the beginning of the semester until now, we have learned about how this situation has become top heavy in the governments and a majority of the citizens are just trying to live their lives the best they can.  It just seems so surreal that all of this can affect so many people.

The second reading from Galit was a bit of a twist from the first article, relating Jerusalem in a feminine way.  It is interesting to think about because as we discussed in class today, there aren't many things that are compared to men in this country today.  The feminine comparison has a spiritual meaning of love connected to it that should be thought about every day.  However, the main outlook I took from this was that it should not be felt as a 'possession' as one normally thinks, but as a love characteristic.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Weblog 4

Even though I do not listen to a variety of music and primarily use it to keep me entertained, I think that it does get me into the right mood.  I am a fan of R&B, Pop, and some hip-hop music.  I like to listen to r&b most of the time because it puts me in balance and seem like I'm carefree.  However, when I need to get pumped up for something, I might break out some old rap that I know the words to in order to get my adrenaline flowing. I do not update my music very often, but I do enjoy listening to music in the background of my daily activities.

Many people in the world use music to mean different things, especially in the movie we saw on Tuesday.  I think between the orchestra from a few weeks ago and the rappers we just saw yesterday, music can have so much more impact than just entertainment.  These people are making music and setting a stage politically by interacting with both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  I think that it is a unique way of attacking the subject, but can also help because of the shared interests.  The rappers had a lot more arguments about the political side than the orchestra players did, but that could partially be due to the kind of music they are doing.  Rappers are meant to be aggressive and I think the article that went with the video talked about the background of that very well.  We will continue to see if any of the music interventions will collect enough interest to become a part of a movement towards peace in the future.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Reading Response 13

After reading the article about the dissection of the inner conflict of Channels of Rage, it is very interesting to see tidbits of both sides of the story.  It seems as though both of them are doing this during a violent time, but stick to their own sides.  However, they both understand what the other is going through.  I think that the most interesting part was the quote from each at the end, when Tamer says the problem isn't between him and Kobi, but Kobi believes the opposite.  Maybe this is to make it bigger than it really is, or they are really in a struggle to find that inner peace.

The Israeli Hip-hop article 'All Flow, No Edge' really puts a different perspective on how Israelis look at rap compared to those in the United States.  When reading the article, one thing really caught my eye: How Israeli rappers perceive 'black'. Now to start this off, are there not any white rappers? Of course there are, and even though African Americans are a majority of the rappers, I think it is obscure to point them out like that.  There are tons of famous white rappers and to directly try to link to the blacks is weird to me, considering the Israelis can probably relate to the white rappers more.  I think the comparison of violence in Israel and in the ghettos aren't very similar and cause two different styles of rap, which is good for the category.

The interview with Subliminal was also very interesting from him rapping at his house to the army to making albums.  He has been progressing to make his music out of Israel since he has basically taken over the hip hop market there.  His next mission is to make an album in English for Europe and then progressively to the United States.  It is interesting to see where he has come from to where he is now.  Although he compares his childhood to being on the streets like the rapper Biggie Smalls, he was more in the politics side because there really isn't any other option.  He has come a long way to his success and I think he will continue to develop and hopefully make a difference in the region and in the world.