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2 posts from November 2013

11/16/2013

Carmel, Elijah, Me (I?) and God's Vineyard

I’m sure that all this information can be googled or found somewhere, but I figured I would compile just a little about HaifaUniversity so that I could have it for my records and for anyone who is interested. UofH is a research university of about 18,000 students (international, graduate, undergraduate) and it has focuses in social science, humanity, law, and education- I will be in the InternationalSchool (we completed an orientation at the begining of the term where all the international students had to introduce themselves, it is DEFINITELY international) and focusing on Peace and Conflict Studies.

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The university is located on the top of Mt.Carmel (for anyone curious, Carmel means “God’s Vineyard”) and when I say on top I mean that it is quite literally the sole set of buildings (on this area of the mountain) that touches the sky nearly 1,700 feet above sea level. Needless to say, it is incredible to look out over Haifa daily walking between classes and food.Image

While I like to imagine myself walking in some ancient’s footsteps (or maybe walking diagonally over them or T-crossing them? I’m fine with whatever…) history is a difficult thing to place. AND while I imagine that my mountain area could be where Elijah (more about him later) stood, there is an intimidating 25 miles of this beautiful mountain range… a girl can dream.  

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(The window was a little dirty in office’s tower)

If you’re really interested in being blown away open your Bible to the index and use the magic words “Mount Carmel”. But I’ll save you that effort and give you a free-be, because the Mount Carmel region is most referenced with Elijah in the book of 1st Kings (1st Kings 18). The story within this passage lights a fire in me (haha… pun intended).  Elijah, a prophet of God, took to proving to the Baal prophets in the area that God is actually the Real Deal, unlike ever popular Baal of the time. He drenched their doubt (an offering of bull) three times with water, and the Lord responded in His power with fire that burned everything.

Yes, this mountain- and I am learning here. The culture is so rich despite being Jewish, Christian, or Muslim. You feel it when you walk everywhere and when you talk to the people. Honestly, I get goose bumps on my skin even reading “Israel” anywhere in the Bible now, this is where I am and the sand and dirt I’m walking on. Blown away by this blessing.  

Oh! On a COMPLETELY different note, because I wasn’t creative enough to find a way to sneak this into my real post, This is what my room looks like! I am living in an apartment with 6 other girls. We each have our own bathroom and bedroom (shoutout to those still living in the community dorms with 5 showers for 75 girls…and then some). The appartments are really great, and having your own room means that you have your own space aside from living communaly if you'd like.

 

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11/14/2013

Two Israeli Perspectives

Maya Hadar – Member of IDF and Assistant Professor at University of Haifa

 

 

 

     Maya Hadar, a Haifa native with three separate degrees in psychology, law and peace and conflict studies, met with my study abroad group and I on Friday afternoon to offer us a closer look at Israel's culture and society. It was my second time hearing an Israeli give some candid remarks about their fellow Israelis. The prior day, an older fellow sitting to my right on my flight to Tel Aviv made a point of telling me that the manic driving culture reflects on Israeli's need to rush from point a to point b. 

      In terms of social behavior, Hadar described Israel as a nation of assertive, honest, bold managers. In Hadar's opinion, most Israelis ignore hierarchical roles and support the belief that citizens with rank or status deserve the same treatment as average citizens. As an example, she referenced Israeli students who aren't afraid to frequently chat with their professors and call them by their first name. Hesitation to talk to elders is not a problem here. The same tendency applies to strangers. When meeting new guests, it's typical for an Israeli to be interested in learning their career or income.

    Since Hadar is part of the Israeli Defense Force, our class was interested in hearing her perspective on the Arab/Israeli conflict relative to Haifa. “Although the conflict is present, people live their own lives,” said Hadar. To her, Haifa is a great example of co-existence. There are Ethiopians [who immigrated during the early 1990s], Russians from post Soviet Union, Arabs, Jews and ultra orthodox Jews. That being said, “the downside of living here is the mentality of a constant threat,” said Hadar.

Tamer Omari – Program Manager of HEARTBEAT

      Tamar Omari lives in a village with 1,200 people, all of whom are related to him in one way or another. “We're given a circle of land. We can only build up, we can never expand. ” He may live in Haifa, but the city is still very segregated. Tamer went to a Palestinian school that was managed by the Israeli Ministry of Education. When I asked whether the quality of education of Palestinian schools measures up to Israeli schools, he said it's not even comparable. At school, he and his classmates learned about Independence Day and the democracy of Israel. It is not in Israel's interest to incorporate the history of the Palestinians into their Jewish curriculum.

     It's easy to think that Palestinians in this region solely live in the Palestinian territories, but twenty percent of Israel is comprised of Palestinians. My question is, does the quality of life of a Palestinian living in Israel differ from one living in Palestine? “I would not dare complain with someone who lives in Jenin [West Bank] because my life is not threatened. My freedom is," said Omari. "They understand that we're more privileged, but there's a mutual understanding [between us].” My question is, what is it like to be a Palestinian living in Israel? Although it may be safer as a Palestinian in Israel, Omari's experience suggests that being Israeli does not always guarantee equality; rather, ethnicity plays a significant role. “Everything is not fine. We live under constant racism. I'm always being challenged to be violent," said Omari.

      These days, Omari develops consciousness about the issue among young adults by making music with Palestinians and Jews in a safe and comfortable environment. In the process, the students engage in political dialogue and discuss the meaning of their lyrics while Omari facilitates.  If you want to hear a few of their tracks, check it out at http://www.heartbeat.fm/musichear/ .

   * Since Maya Hadar and Tomer Omari come from different backgrounds and interpret co-existence differently, the two are interesting enough to compare and contrast. As a reader, I hope that you were able to read each excerpt with an open mind, putting any prior viewpoints aside. I will try to always give two perspectives (whether its Christian, Druze, Muslim or Jewish).