Saturday, May 31, 2014

On Thursday, we began our Israel trip with three days in Tel Aviv.  It is a young, vibrant, and bustling city with great beaches (which we have taken full advantage of).  It is formed of an interesting mixture of the old and the new, with historic buildings nestled between modern high-rise office buildings.
Our first tour was to Jaffa.  Now a suburb of Tel Aviv, this area predates modern Tel Aviv and archaeologically dates back through some of the world's greatest empires, including the Egyptian, Roman, and Ottoman.  As a port city, Jaffa was highly valued for its strategic location. The first settlers of the modern Tel Aviv braved leaving the safety of the walls of Jaffa to create a new modern neighborhood which would become Tel Aviv.  Jaffa is made of narrow sandstone passageways with small rooms which today house various artistic shops, exemplified by this 'floating tree' along the pathway.  


Historically, the port at Jaffa was the arrival location for many Jewish immigrants making the difficult journey to this land via ships.  The shops that fill the city today would have instead been neighborhoods full of Arab and Jewish families. 

When viewing the ancient history of Jaffa, it is easy to see the skyline of Tel Aviv not far away.

Continuing our tour in Tel Aviv, we saw the first house built in the modern city that later served as the location of the declaration of the state of Israel in 1948. Assembling around 300 guests in secret, David Ben-Gurion announced the State of Israel only hours before the British Mandate over Palestine was set to expire.

On Friday, we were able to have a meeting with two foreign service offers from the American Embassy who gave us great information on the issues in Israel currently of top priority to the U.S. Government and also answered our many questions regarding a diverse range of topics such as immigration in Israel, water rights, settlements, and possible Israeli/Palestinian state solutions. 

Having seen the city of Tel Aviv, I am very excited to travel to Jerusalem and Northern Israel to really compare these different parts of the country and issues that are present.

 Last, but certainly not least....Delicious food!!

Various breads

Friday, May 30, 2014

They're off and running...

The 2014 Israel SIS Summer Abroad program, The Prospects for Peace, is underway and has an exciting itinerary planned. This year's group includes 10 AU students and their leader, Professor Guy Ziv. The course will focus on the longtime U.S. foreign policy objective while studying the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and look at Israel as a sovereign and international actor. The program will examine how security, environmental, and human rights issues converge to inform both domestic and foreign policy in Israel. The program is designed allow the students explore the complex issues facing the modern state of Israel as shaped by its many voices, both past and present. 

After their travels to Tel Aviv yesterday, the group hit the streets touring Jafa and Neve Tzedek.  Their busy schedule continues in Tel Aviv this week before heading to Jerusalem.

(photos courtesy of Professor Ziv)