Sunday, July 13, 2014

Today we attended two lectures: politics and literature.  The main focus in Professor Shinar’s class on Israeli politics was the media.  Ultimately we need to understand how the media plays a role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; however, today’s lecture was principally on the development of the media and media studies in Israel.  The background information was basically regarding the history of the media in Israel since the time of the British Mandate.  There was not always freedom of press in Israel. Our reading on the subject by Michael Widlanksi describes the media in contemporary Israel as a strong entity against a weakening government.  According to Widlanski, the importance of the Israeli media has earned it the title of the “Fourth Estate” in addition to the conventional branches of a government.  We also heard about the evolution of media studies in Israel.  However, the discipline is now adversely affected by technological advancement as many are now able to independently participate in the circulation of media (electronically) without having to undergo a formal education on the media and journalism.

In Professor Lefkovitz’s class we started off by discussing the memoir of Amos Oz.  The author sets a rapid pace at which time passes in his story.  In about 110 pages, he goes all the way into the past to talk about his great-grandparents and then into the future to talk about his grandchildren.  Oz describes how his grandparents and his father were reluctant to leave Europe.  However, as a reader, one is in a way relieved that they did.  The writer does this by basically setting himself parallel to his cousin in Europe who is killed at only three years old during the Holocaust because his father, Oz’s uncle, refused to emigrate to Palestine with the rest of the family.  The memoir conveys to the reader that the writer’s fate could have been the same as his cousin’s.  In fact, the author would have been doomed if his father’s application for German citizenship were approved.

Thereafter, we briefly discussed Hareven’s Mahogany.  The main takeaway of the story was that if children have to protect adults in certain situations, in this case, from Nazis who invaded Poland, then it means God is missing. In other words, when God is in heaven, then things are orderly as they are supposed to be: parents are actually meant to be the source of protection for their children.  Discussion of the readings transitioned into a discussion comprised of individual reactions to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.  The beautiful view of Mount Herzl basically symbolises the notion that Israel is the bright future of the Jewish people.

Today’s final programme was volunteering in a community garden.  Community gardens are maintained throughout Israel by communities that utilise them.  I felt that the activity was meant to teach us the virtues of teamwork and collectivism: engaging in collective service so that a community could enjoy the garden’s greenery and the fresh produce grown in the garden itself.  Afterwards, it was rewarding to consume pita that was freshly cooked over a fireplace that was lit next to the garden.

– Anuphab Phraewphanarai



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