Thursday July 10, 2014

To preface this post, I just want to let you know that I am an English major (one of three non- international affairs / political science majors) so I’m kinda fuzzy on the whole politics thing. This may lead to some stupid things being written… bear with me.

Today we had class at Hadassah Academic College taught by doctoral candidate Elie Friedman, who is originally from Canada (he has an accent that is much easier to understand than most other Hebrew speaking people here!). He taught us about the government system of Israel, which is very different from America. Israel has both a president and a prime minister, with the president being more of a ceremonial head of state while the prime minister is the political head of state (though at times the president has strongly influenced political decisions). The Cabinet is the executive branch of the government, and the Knesset is the legislative branch. One thing we spent some time on that I thought was very interesting was the variety of political parties in the government. There were 31 different parties running the last election! There are currently 13 different political parties in the Knesset.

After this lecture/seminar class we went on a good old fashioned field trip (aka a tour that is during class time rather than being in addition to the four hours of class) to the Supreme Court. We learned about the intentional architecture of the building as having many straight lines and circles. Lines represent law and circles represent justice. Psalm 119:137 “You are righteous… and Your laws are straight”; Psalm 23:3 “He leads me in the circles of justice.” It was also cool to see how parts of the building were designed to look like you were outside walking a street in Jerusalem, through use of natural light and walled spaces.

Supreme Court hallway

Supreme Court hallway

We got to sit in on an actual hearing at the Supreme Court, which wasn’t too exciting for most of us since it was in Hebrew, but after we walked out Elie told us that it was something about manslaughter and the defendant was pleading self-defense.

After that we were free for the rest of the day (until later in the evening when we’re meeting some Israeli students). Tedi and I went exploring in the area near the college, looking for the open market we saw on our way to our earlier field trip. We saw lots of tables with many different things being sold, clothes, old coins, antiques, old photographs, and what I was most interested in: jewelry.

Open air market

Open air market

We didn’t stay out for too long, and neither of us bought anything because it was just so hot. I felt like I was melting! We then headed back to the haven of the air-conditioned apartments, where I read 150 pages of a book called The Scorch Trials, second in James Patterson’s The Maze Runner series.

While I was relaxing, apparently there was another air raid siren. I had no idea… for some reason I didn’t hear it at all. I got a phone call from Jaclyn, wondering where I was, so Alex and I headed down to the basement where everyone else was. By that time we had gotten the all-clear, and we returned to our activities.

I have to say, I haven’t really felt threatened at all while I’ve been here. Honestly, the sirens just feel like those fire drills you have in school to make sure you know what to do. It’s nice to know that the Israeli government is so good at taking care of defense, and the Iron Dome is able to intercept any rockets that are projected to hit areas with people. In all the recent shooting (over 100 rockets so far today, and 442 in the past 3 days) it’s amazing to think that there haven’t been any Israeli casualties. While keeping that in mind I do think that it’s completely valid for Israel to retaliate upon Gaza, especially since Israel had offered to not strike Gaza if Gaza would stop trying to kill its civilians. Also, Israel does its best to only target terrorists and not kill any civilians. Being here, in the midst of the tension has really given me a deeper perspective on the whole conflict in the area.

– Joy Davis

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