I’m ridiculously behind in blog posts, thanks to the start of papers and assignments being due, but I’m working on it! In the meantime, I just wanted to update quickly on some current events that have been infiltrating classes and conversations here at Hebrew U. In the wake of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdowns in Japan, the news here in Jerusalem is surprisingly Israel-focused.
Third Intifada Facebook Group: On Sunday in my Perspectives on Islam class, Professor Nazzal started off the lecture by asking if we had heard of this new Facebook page. None of us had, but immediately looked it up on our laptops. Basically, it’s a pretty low-key movement right now, but the plans are to build up support over the course of the next few months and have Arabs start moving towards the West Bank and Gaza Strip. By May 15 (the day on which Israel gained independence in 1948), organizers hope to have millions of supporters march to support a third intifada. Israelis are obviously not very happy about this news. A student asked Professor Widlanski about it today, and he not only had not heard anything about it, but also denied the chance that it would actually formulate, but hey- he also underestimated the Egyptian Revolution. Shannon and I joked that even if we end up getting evacuated again, at least we’ll have gotten to enjoy a full semester in Israel by then, right? (http://www.news24.com/World/News/Calls-for-third-Intifada-on-Facebook-20110310)
Family Stabbing: On a more serious note, five members of a Jewish family were stabbed to death while sleeping in their home last week. The killer is rumored to be Palestinian, but the crime has not been solved yet, and apparently some Palestinians are stating that the culprit was not Palestinian at all- he was a worker who felt that the family was not paying him enough. Either way, this has stirred up more anti-Palestinian sentiments, and has provoked shock and disgust on both Israeli and Palestinian sides- Abbas condemned the action. (http://www.jpost.com/NationalNews/Article.aspx?id=211780), (http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/abbas-itamar-attack-was-despicable-immoral-and-inhuman-1.349098)
More Settlement Plans: Perhaps in response to the stabbing (or at least with very coincidental timing), Israel announced plans to build even more settlements. They justify the act by claiming that these settlements will be built on land which would remain Israeli in any possible peace treaty, but this is still ignoring the fact that settlements are deemed illegal by all international powers. Strangely enough, I have not heard any of my teachers or classmates mention this new development, while news of the Palestinian actions is hard to avoid. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12725487)
Religious Conflicts in Egypt: Despite the praise that Egyptians received for working together during the protests, regardless of age, background, or religion, clashes are starting up again between Coptic Christians and Muslims. These sectarian issues have been cropping up since before the revolution- remember the attacks in Alexandria earlier this year? (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12133656), (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12674675)
Purim: I had no idea what Purim meant until last Friday, but apparently, it’s a Jewish holiday celebrating the fact that Queen Esther saved the Jews from a mass murder under the hands of Haman. I’ve basically had it described to me as a Jewish version of Halloween- you dress up, except most people dress up as characters from the Biblical story, and make a celebration of it. Hebrew U students also get a couple of days off of school this weekend, so I’ll have a chance to explore Jerusalem and see what Purim’s all about. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purim)
Aside from this, I’ve just been preparing for midterms next week and getting excited for the arrival of my Mom and Mark at the end of this month! I promise I’ll post a legitimate update within the next couple of days!