This week we had the amazing opportunity to hear about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a variety or perspectives. On Wednesday, we entered the West Bank and headed to a “settlement” (which looks a lot like a South Florida suburb) to meet a local Israeli who believes in a one-state solution. Afterward, we heard from an Israeli kibbutz member who said he doesn’t believe peace will ever be possible because Palestinians will refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of a Jewish state. The following day we heard from Dr. Nashashibi, an economic advisor to the Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority and a member of one of the most prominent Palestinian families. Living in a mixed neighborhood in Jerusalem, Dr. Nashashibi believes in a two-state solution and believes that the impediment to this is a lack of Israeli incentive to solve the issue.
Additionally on Thursday we went to the Ayalon Institute on Kibbutz Hill to tour a kibbutz that served as an underground bullet manufacturing center for revolutionaries while Israel was under British mandate. We were briefly able to view the Weizmann Institute of Science, heralded as one of the world’s best institutions for graduate degrees. Finally we visited Yad La-Shiryon, also known as The Armored Corps Memorial Site and Museum at Latrun, where we were able to hear from a combat veteran of the Six-Day War on the anniversary of the beginning of conflict.
Our final weekend is free! Camping, shopping, and the beach will be on most people’s minds (and hopefully studying for finals next week!).
Boy have we been busy!
Wednesday began in the classroom. Baruch, who is the child of two Holocaust survivors, told us the story of his family. Afterward we went to Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial of Jewish victims of the Holocaust, which features a museum and the Righteous Among the Nations, a walk dedicated to non-Jewish supporters of Jewish refugees during the Holocaust. Afterwards, we were led to the Shuk for lunch. That evening the group took a hike around the kibbutz to the John the Baptist cave.
Thursday began our weekend of travels. First, it was off to Masada on the eastern edge of the Judaean Desert, most famous for the mass suicide of the Sicarii rebels to avoid slavery at the hands of the Roman Empire. Afterwards, we traveled down to the Dead Sea, the lowest elevation on land and a body of water over 8 times saltier than the ocean! In true tradition, some students even covered themselves in mud before entering the water. Afterward, students headed to the resort town of Eilat, where we stayed for the weekend.
Bright an early the next morning about half the group enjoyed the optional hike up to the gorgeous view of the borders of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt. Later that day, the group headed to snorkel in the Red Sea.
On Saturday, the group crosses into Jordan for the trip to Petra, one of the new wonders of the world which consistently graces lists of “things to see before you die.” There are really no words to express how amazed everyone was! We even saw some fellow Seminoles! GO NOLES! We headed back into Eilat that night.
Sunday was our traveling day back to Kibbutz Tzuba. We stopped briefly for lunch at a Bedouin camp for lunch and then rode camels!
It was certainly a crazy weekend! Now we can all say we’ve seen Israel basically from tip-to-tip AND crossed the border into Jordan!
Only two weeks left!
It’s hard to believe that we’re almost halfway through the program. Wednesday morning we headed to the Israeli Supreme Court, a building that is not only of particular interest because of our studies but also architecturally gorgeous. While we were there we were lucky enough to sit in on an actual case headed by the President of the Supreme Court.
Afterwards we had a brief stop in the Shuk market, followed by a tour of Hebrew University, one of the world’s top universities whose First Board of Directors included Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud. Students also had the amazing opportunity to meet with Israeli law and graduate students and exchange information about their cultures and education.
Our ride back to the Kibbutz officially began our free weekend! The majority of students headed to Tel Aviv for a relaxing weekend near the beach. One group even stayed in tents!
Now we’re back to classes and studying hard! Tomorrow we will visit the Holocaust Museum and this weekend we will head to Masada and Petra!
We began our weekend at Beit She’an, one of the ancient cities in Israel “where an earthquake stopped time.” We were able to see the remnants of the theatre, bathing house, and even the brothel. Afterwards we went to Bet Alfa Synagogue National Park, where we viewed an ancient Aramaic mosaic that was the floor of the synagogue from the fifth century. Finally we headed to Yigal Allon Museum to see a boat from the time of Jesus. The final stop was our hotel, which had a gorgeous view of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee).
On Friday we visited the house of St. Peter and the ruins of an ancient synagogue before traveling to the city of Tzfat (Safed), the highest city in Israel, one of Judaism’s Four Holy Cities, and the birthplace of Kabbalah. There we visited the Ashkenazi Ari Synagogue and Safed Candles. We ended our travels at the Mount of the Beatitudes, where Jesus delivered his sermon on the mount, where a Byzantine Church stands from the fourth century. For dinner, Team Gertz invited us to join them for an optional Shabbat dinner which everyone gladly accepted!
Saturday we were able to visit Mount Bental in the Golan Heights, where we had an impressive view of various borders, including Syria. At the top of Mount Bental we were also able to tour a military bunker that is currently inactive. A short hike afterward led us to Banias river waterfalls, one of the source of the Jordan river. Our last adventure was kayaking down the Jordan river, where we worked up our appetites for Pagoda, a renowned Chinese resturaunt near Tiberias.
Sunday was mostly a travel day but we did stop through Akko, where a modern city sits above 5000-year-old ruins from ancient times through the Crusader periods, followed by lunch on the Haifa Bay.
As of Wednesday evening, FSU Israel students will be off to do whatever their hearts desire! It’s our free long-weekend; some will go to Tel Aviv, some will leave the country! Safe travels to all!
We’re about halfway into week two, and things are about to speed up! When I left you on Friday, we had been given free time for our weekend! Students spent this in a variety of ways – walking the trail to a nearby castle, hiking to the mall in Mevassaret, and taking a second look at the Old City and shopping in the Shuk. Shea Kirk, junior criminology and psychology student, said that her favorite activities of the weekend were “Going back to the Old City in a small group to do the Via Dolorosa, the Shuk, and a Catholic mass in the Holy Sepulcher.” Sunday evening was college crunch time where students prepared for the first day of classes on Monday.
Monday and Tuesday students began their classes with Dr. Marc Gertz (Comparative Criminal Justice and Israeli Literature and Culture) and doctoral students Christi Falco (International Criminal Justice Systems) and Thomas Baker (International Terrorism). Paul Liptz, Tel Aviv University, teaches an exciting class on Israel Politics and Society – the only class with all 20 students enrolled. The six students in the Intensive Hebrew class have been seen studying (and teaching other students) Hebrew throughout the week.
Wednesday was packed with information. Bright and early students gathered to hear from David Benjamin, an attorney specializing in international law, who spoke about the sensitive decisions and consequences of waging war in the Middle East. Afterwards, we were taken to Ein Rafa, an Arab village a 15-minute bus ride from our Kibbutz. We were invited into a mosque, where the Imam (the name for the Muslim religious leaders) spoke to us about the pillars of Islam and the misconceptions made by Westerners and practicing Muslims alike. Our translater, an England native who converted to Islam in her twenties, was inspirational and informative – almost all students said that they were shocked by how modernized and tolerant the views were.
After lunch, Aaron Gertz gave us his famous “History of Israel in 45 minutes” and we explored the Kibbutz. First was the on-site glass factory Oran Safety Glass, where a large amount of bullet-proof glass produced for the American military is made. The next tour, of the Tzuba Estate Winery, was accompanied by a taste-test and beautiful view.
Finally, the day ended as students packed for their trip to Galilee!
Dr. Gertz has told us that the best way to avoid jetlag is to jump right in and stay active! That’s why it has taken me three days to write in… man, have we been busy!
All students arrived in time for our 7PM orientation on the first day, where we met Dr. Gertz, Thomas, Christi, Aaron, and Baruch, our guides for Israel. We had our first real meal of hummus, falafel and a couple other Israeli staples.
The next day we all met for lunch in the dining hall around noon. The buffet-style meal was delicious and varied, so everyone was pretty excited for that. It was Karisma’s birthday so we were all treated to chocolate cupcakes! Our bus ride led us to Tel Maresha for an archeological dig of the fortress line that protected the biblical heartland from existential western threats. One student, Chris, found an archeologically complete bowl! Our real dig had us finding artifacts from 2200 years ago! Then we all scooted through an amazing cave by candlelight — one of 5,000! After, we visited a park for a special barbecue for burgers in pitas, lamb kabob, and Goldstar (Israeli beer). Then Aaron took the group our for Lag BaOmer, a huge Jewish holiday where almost all of Israel is lit up in bonfires! So cool.
Yesterday, we went in to the old city. We walked through each of the four quarters and saw just about everything possible. Our tour guide was amazing and I think we all learned a TON of history! While we were there we were able to visit the Western wall, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Finally, we were challenged to a scavenger-hunt — including finding Aaron at the BEST hummus place in Israel.
It has been an ABSOLUTE BLAST!
Welcome FSU Summer 2012 Study Abroad Israel students, family and friends. Our 6-week program starts in just a couple days! I’m D, a graduate student with the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice who will be blogging photos, stories, and anything else of interest from Israel. Keep an eye on this page, and Alumni & Friends of Criminology’s Facebook, to get the latest info!
For those of you on Instagram, you can follow FSUAFC for the quickest photo updates. Make sure to use #FSUIsrael to join the conversation!
Keep in touch!