Tuesday, December 13, 2011


The general flexibility of this course made it the most unique course I have taken in my undergraduate education. It allowed for a fluid dialogue and organic knowledge building. This was absolutely necessary in a course such as this which investigates a conflict that is continually changing. The only additions I would like to see to the overall structure of the class is the presentation, in the beginning days of the course, which states the themes and goals of the Living Jerusalem Project. Many times questions such as, “what is the project doing right now?” or “what is the goal of the project?” came up during class discussions. I feel it is important to address these questions from the beginning so that the students understand the history and complexity not only of the relations between Arab-Israeli and the three Abrahamic religions, but also of the Living Jerusalem project itself. Lastly, I believe in the beginning days the students should provide what their short and long term goals are in learning about Arab- Israeli relations and the city of Jerusalem.
The reading material provided to the students in class was informative and relevant to the topics discussed. It often gave me background information to the topic which we discussed as a class or to a video conference we had. The reading which I believe was most important in this class was Karen Armstrong’s book Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths.
Armstrong’s book gave a very detailed description of Jerusalem’s history from the very beginnings to the almost present. This book should be kept as the main text of the course, but the way in which it is used should be re-structured. This book is very dense with lots of valuable dates, names, religions, and transfers of power throughout history. It was more than overwhelming to be expected to read 50, 80, or 100 pages a night. Not solely because of the amount of pages, but mainly because there was so much valuable information on each page.
Armstrong’s book should be spread throughout the entire semester. We went through it so quickly this semester, and once we were finished, we did not revisit it as much as we should have. I think the amount of reading each night should be substantially reduced. The book should be only discussed once a week instead of both days. Dr. Horwitz said she wanted us to get through the material before we moved on to other information and video conferencing, but I believe Armstrong’s book could have been a more useful tool if read in concurrence with the entire semester and used in the video conference discussions as well.
Also, there should be more facilitation from the professor on the material in Armstrong. As said above, the material is very dense and sometimes overwhelming. Three tools would have been very helpful in unwrapping the text; a timeline, a terms list, and a theme list. These tools would be provided by the professor prior to the readings so that the student would have something to work from. This would not only help in the comprehension of the text, but also assistance the class in an academic way to facilitate class discussion.
Blogging is a wonderful tool for this course. It encourages dialogue among the students and provides the cyber world with information we as a class are gathering. Because the blogs are such a vital part of the course it is important that this tool be tweaked to better the use of it in future classes.
First, I believe that the blog should be a reflective tool rather than a pre-discussion space. It is expected that student complete their readings prior to class discussions. I felt that the blogs where used as a ‘check’ on students completing their reading assignment more than a space for thoughts to flow. The blogs should be a space that students go and reflect on the readings and discussion after the class has closed. This will enable the students to not only reflect on the readings, but also on the class discussion and the connections between the two.
Secondly, I believe the blog should be read and added by all. By this I mean that the professor and visiting guests should be able to go on and comment on the blog. I feel that the blogs were lacking with the absences of other academic voices. Lastly, I believe there should be one main class blog where everyone posts there comments of the day. I feel the tool would be more valuable as a stream of consciousness from the entire class and not just on an individual level. I believe this would create more dialogue and discussion in the forum.
Video Conferencing
Video conferencing was the most unique and important aspect of the course. It really pushed our educational experience in the right direction. We were able to talk to people from all over the world and from all walks of life. All the people in the Living Jerusalem Project are so passionate about what they are doing (academically, socially, and politically). This energy was shared among us all and in turn created a greater cohesion of knowledgeable and inspired individuals.
I would not change much in the formatting of the video conferencing. I would like to see more student peers who could have talked about their personal experiences in Jerusalem. For example, speaking to the founder of the Heartbeat project was one of the most inspiring moments in the course for me. This was because we were able to talk to a peer who talked about his passion for music and how he turned it into something which helps others.
Final Projects
The final projects were also a favorite part of the course for me. I feel it gave students the opportunity to express their personal interests in Jerusalem and share it with others in the class. The great thing was all projects were quite different in their content and form. I would have actually liked to have seen two sets of projects. One asked of us mid-way through the semester which would be half the length and content and then another asked of us at the end identical to the guidelines we had this semester.
I believe that projects such as these give a good opportunity for students to reflect on what they actually know and how they can express it well to others. Having a project mid-semester would help the student gather their thoughts to determine where they are in their study of the topic and where they would like to go for the remainder of the semester.


Lila and Allsion
You both did a great job in the amount of time you took in your research. It was an important question to ask. I wonder though, if you knew the answer before you began. I thank you for your project, for it gave me the inspiration to create mine as a educational tool.

I think it is important to show the similarities among cultures. The things people love about culture (food, music) are so similar, yet people tend to ignore the brotherly connections.

Props to you for having the ability to gather all this information and present it in a approachable way!

I believe your research was very important for American students to see. Even as academics we are exposed to how the media frames issues. It is important to step back and critiqually analyze what it continously flashed before us.

I thank you for finding this organization on campus. I hope that if this class is here again, the two groups can collaborate.

Your art work was good in expressing two compeating images we have been dealing with this semseter, the romantized Jerusalem and the reality of Jerusalem.

I appricate that you researched a different form of social attivism in boycotting.

I thank you for having the ability to research a disheartening sunject such as this. It was hard to take in, but it is important to be informed.

You did a great job of showing conflict without images of violence. I hope Dr. Horwitz uses your presentation in future classes!

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Things I will discuss...

The need to have a tool for the student to use in the readings. I would create a few 'thought questions' which will give the students an idea of what ideas, issues, facts the professor sees as the most important aspect of the reading. I feel this will not only help the students get more out of the readings, but also encourage discussion of the texts.

The blogging should be done after each class, not before. I think it will be a more useful tool if students are commenting on (A) the readings of that class session (B) the discussions from that class session or video conference and (C) their own personal reflection from the session.

I also like the idea of commenting blog 'buddies', but I think you should have the students draw names of two students to follow throughout the semester so they can follow to different perspectives.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

i dont know how to feel...

These two links to the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement website informed me of what is currently going on in Jerusalem. I am saddened and discouraged by the news. I wonder how the people fighting for peace are still willingly to go out and protest this Friday. I believe it is very brave of them. It is very hard for me to fully conceptualize this situation fully. I am hoping that meeting Eitan Grossman tomorrow will give me a better understanding of how the people involved are feeling at this point and what they hope the outcome of Friday will be.



from a few weeks ago, will post more tonight

I posted this information a few weeks ago on the class blog. I will not be able to post more current things until later tonight.

The following article, "Genuine solidarity vs. stale promises" was written by Eitan Grossman in July of this year. Grossman is the Isreali Sheikh Solidarity Movement organizer. The follwing statement by Grossman contains an important criteral of the negotations for peace and futher explanations is given in the following article. Enjoy!

"Solidarity is not making a theoretical argument for a two-state solution or for a unilateral declaration of independence. Rather, the struggle is for the recognition and support of the basic right of Palestinians to national self-determination, out of recognition that political independence is not the goal of negotiations, but rather a prerequisite for it. As Nelson Mandela put it, only a free man can negotiate: only when Palestinians and Israelis are free from the occupation will they be able to begin negotiating for peace."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Music has a very important role in my life. I am an avid music lover. In the past I have been apart of choirs, though I have never been able to play a musical instrument.

The way I feel I most contribute to music is being a listener and lover of what is being created. At least once a week, if not three times a week, I am watching music being played live. Most of my friends are artists and I support them as much as possible. I love being involved in every part of the music process. From being in my friends basement, listening to the practice a new song they just wrote, to being in the studio while they lay one down, to being at their shows and dancing along with every beat.

Music is the one thing that can always give me a sense of hope. Anytime I am down, I put on music or go to a show, and I feel a spark of encouragement. I feel that music is the easiest way for people to communicate. Everyone can feel a beat, hear a melody. Music is a medium that all people can understand, it may have different arrangements and tempos, but the core is the same. I believe because music is such a universal language it has an important role in conflict resolution. Music naturally brings people together. Countless amounts of times, I have seen someone strumming a guitar and throughout the night people are drawn to the sweet sound. If we can use music as a tool to gather different types of people together, we can take it one step further, and begin having dialogue among the conflicted.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Heartbeat Jerusalem

Heartbeat Jerusalem is a Fullbright funded program started by a young American musician. The program seeks to, "utilize music’s power to build trust between the Israeli and Palestinian communities by amplifying Israeli and Palestinian youth voices for change and reconciliation. Heartbeat began in 2007 and brought together 12 Israeli and Palestinian teenaged musicians for a weekly musical-dialogue.

By listening, playing and writing music together, the students learned about each other’s communities, histories, political views, identities, and hopes and developed new tools for self-expression and social change. The youth members seemed more than hopeful that the people of Jerusalem will find peace one day. One student said music was the international language of the world and all can communicate with one another through the medium.

The dialogue coming from the youth involved in the program was not only convincing, but also inspirationally moving. The program brings the Jerusalemite youth community together, in a safe and neutral space, to create music. I am sure the youth involved in this program feel more of an impact from Heartbeat than most peace movements that have sprung up and fizzled out in the region.