Zionism, Shoah, Palestine and Winter

Last post I promised that I would talk a little about what I’m studying, so here we go.

I’m taking three very interesting classes currently.
1. Zionism, Ideology, and Gender with Dr. Esther Carmel-Hakim
2. The Holocaust and Israeli Society with Dr. Ronit Fisher
3. The social history of the Palestinian Society (1900-1948) with Dr. Na’ama Ben Ze’ev

The first few weeks were pretty boring to be honest. I did study these subjects broadly for my BA at CU, so the first few classes were a lot of review. My classmates come from all different backgrounds, ages, countries, religions, and focuses of study. Its very interesting to hear why everyone choose to do a MA in Israel Studies. Its even a few people’s first time in Israel. I’m really liking the professors as well. They really are passionate about what they are teaching and not doing it just as a job. They really want to challenge us and guide us to learn and research what interests us. Its nice having a lot of advocates for a subject that I’m passionate about. No more learning things I don’t care about…Grad school is cool like that.

One of the best parts of this program is that we take a field trip ever few weeks for each of the classes. Last week we had our first one where we spend the day at יד ושם Yad VaShem (National Holocaust Museum/Memorial). We started by getting on a bus at 7am from Haifa to join all the morning traffic. On the way we didn’t get to sleep much as we had to present one-by-one our research paper topics to the professor. I hadn’t done any research yet and had a very loose idea of looking at the Shoah (Holocaust) education in the IDF. I spent a lot of the drive trying to pin a research question down for my meeting. Finally I was ready as we were going up the Judean Hills to Jerusalem. After talking with my professor and discussing the subject with her, I came up with a more specific research question; What is the purpose of IDF Shoah education, how has it changed in the last ten years, and is it making the desired impact on soldiers? (or something like that, I’m sure it will change as soon as I start reading the many sources I already have). I might even focus on the Witnesses in Uniform program for commanders. Interesting yeah?

I also start doing class presentations soon. My first one is on the next field trip in my Zionism class (Zichron Ya’akov). I will be making an oral presentation in the field about the N.I.L.I Spy Organization. Very exciting stuff, as I will be doing it at the Aaronsohn House/Museum. The rest of my Zionism class is going very well. Doing a lot of reviews of proto-zionists now and about to move to all the names you already have heard of…Herzl, Jabotinsky, etc. A lot I have learned before, but now going in depth and best part, learning about the women zionists. Best part of our last class was watching Haim Herzog’s UN speech in 1975 at the Zionism=Racism proceedings. Watch it as it is very relevant today!

My class on the Palestinians is one of the best I’ve taken. The whole class is deviating from the “normal” discourse of history. We are looking at the social history (which means we aren’t talking about politics or national narratives), which most of our classes have focused on until this point.  The first subject we are discussing is land ownership, disposition, and immigration. All I can say is it is very complicated issue and blame everything on the british imperialists. One of the best parts of the class is that we have people outside our Israel studies program. The class is very diverse and everyone has an interesting perspective to offer, just waiting for some more lively discussions.

Well thats it for now. Its getting pretty cold in the study room. Time for a week of rain, travel, and THANKSGIVING! Check out this picture I saw on facebook, not sure of the credits, but I didn’t take it.

Haifa Lighting

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