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)

1 comment:

  1. Day 1
    So today was a fairly chilled/relaxed day. We toured Jaffa, an ancient port-turned modern marina, then we went to Independence Hall; the birthplace of the nation of Israel. In 1948, Ben Gurion read the Declaration of Independence and the next day 5 Arab armies attacked the fledgling nation. It was interesting to me, because I was there a week prior on Birthright, saw the same shpeal that the museum tour guide gives, and witnessed the same level of emotion the Israelis feel in the audience. The thing that was odd for me was, the Americans who were with me, who were not Jewish, clapped at the culmination of the tour, along with the Jewish kids on Birthright and the Israeli’s in the audience. It was shocking for me to see this because I was under the perception that most Americans, even Jewish ones, wouldn’t care.

    One lasting impression with our group emerged from the tour guide saying: “Israel is still in a constant state of war,” because there are always tensions with the Palestinians and neighboring Arab countries. It was really odd to think that because the streets of Tel-Aviv are teaming with a vibrant and youthful energy that emulates throughout each street corner, ally, and block of the city. Everywhere, there are artist shops, music stores, amazing street venders, and young people. The only difference between a place like D.C. or NYC and here is, the young people who enjoy this environment, the group that’s 18-21, are all in a mandatory military conscription program.

    The other interesting thing was our tour guide was part of a leftist political movement, after she was done in the army. She was part of one of the largest demonstrations in Israeli history. The protest was started over the price of cottage cheese! This food is a staple for Israeli society, and the price was at 8-9 shekels, which is roughly $3.00USD, but people were fed up with so much more. The cost of continuing security, the cost of housing, the cost of commodities, the cost associated with taxes are all stifling high, especially to the young soldiers and those trying to start a career after the military or who enter college. I have always conceptualized Israel as some sort of giant military base. I grew up on Air Force instillation as a child, so that was not hard to think. But social movements don’t happen on military bases. What’s really interesting is there was political change generated directly from these demonstrations. Political parties responded to public outcry and the price of cottage cheese went down too!