As the organizer of our trip to Israel, I am delighted to try to bring our threads together. I am really so pleased and grateful to all of our colleagues for their insightful reflections. As I have said before, seeing Israel through others’ eyes was an honor to witness. The camaraderie as we all learned together was inspiring. And I really appreciated our collective humility–we don’t know what we don’t know–as we all learned together. It showed me that field study for us faculty is just as important as for our students.
Why is field study different? I have earlier urged us to Get on the Plane and this is no different. These experiences, in all of our senses, bring the place alive. The sounds–of the church bells, the Muslim call to prayer, the joyous Hanukkah celebrations, and even the very religious man singing Stairway to Heaven–all reverberate in my head. The smells of spices and incense and the mountains and the beach are wonderful. The feel of the Dead Sea minerals and the feelings of hope and frustration and despair and hope again rang through our speakers. The beauty of each sight are shown by many of the pictures on this blog. And the taste of the best green tahini I have every had, our comparative falafel study, and watching everyone else savor the amazing food was awesome.
We learned: about the political system that perhaps is even more fraught than ours; about life without a constitution that protects rights through Basic Laws; about what mostly apolitical and professional judicial appointments could be; and that peace efforts are not simply divided into those that work and those that don’t. I hope that the take away is that Israel–like any other conflict–is nuanced and complicated and frustrating; and has really good people trying their best to make day-to-day life better for all inhabitants.
The sound and light show at the David’s Tower in the Old City ends by projecting the words “Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem” in English, Arabic, and Hebrew. It’s a good ending for all of us and a wonderful wish for the new year.