Sunday, April 28, 2013


Coming into this class, I had no idea what to expect.  I am a business major with no real background or former knowledge on the conflict in Jerusalem, and initially was only taking this class to get my general education credits that were required.  After being in this class all semester, writing blog posts, reading articles, watching documentaries, and listening to the thoughts and opinions of my classmates, I can say that I have walked away from this class having actually learned something, which I cannot say about every class that I’ve taken during my time here at IU.  I am walking away with a better understanding of a very complicated topic, and also with a new-found initiative to try to stay better informed on what is going on across the globe.  This paper focuses on my personal reflections on the class—my likes and dislikes—and any suggestions I may have to better the course in the future.

The one thing that I think that I enjoyed the most about this class was listening to the thoughts and opinions of my classmates during class discussions.  As someone who has absolutely zero knowledge on this topic, listening to students who have a real passion for Jerusalem and the conflict surrounding the city was a very enlightening experience for me.  We had the privilege of listening to stories from students who have actually traveled to Jerusalem, and also got to listen to a student speak about the struggles that she faced being considered a Palestinian citizen.  These discussions and stories really helped me better understand the conflict and put things into perspective for me.  I hope that, if anything, these class discussions continue in future classes and hopefully happen more frequently.

Another part of the class that I really enjoyed was listening to scholars we got the opportunity to interact with during the video conferences.  I enjoyed listening to their thoughts and opinions about the different topics we had been discussing, and I feel like it was another way for me to really learn about different aspects of the conflict.  I also enjoyed listening to the questions that some of my classmates posed to the people that we spoke with.

The group projects that we did at the end of the semester were all very beneficial.  I think that being broken down into smaller groups helped stimulate more conversation on the topics that we were discussing in class, and it also made it easier for some students to voice their opinions without having to do so in front of a larger group of people.  I enjoyed watching the presentations and seeing the different types of media that students used to present their topics.  I liked that everyone got to choose something that they felt was important to them—or something that they could personally connect to when it comes to the conflict in Jerusalem.  All of the presentations were very stimulating and I feel like I came away with better knowledge of different aspects of the conflict.  I strongly believe that these group presentations should continue in future Living In Jerusalem classes to come.

Although I sometimes found it to be a pain, I do think that the class blogs made a valuable contribution to this class.  For me personally, it was much easier for me to discuss my thoughts and opinions on the blog than it was to discuss in class.  I could freely state my opinions without feeling like what I was saying was inadequate compared to some students in the class who have very extensive knowledge on this topic.  I also enjoyed viewing other students’ blogs.  Many went above and beyond what was required when it came to posting.  I saw many students post videos and photographs that they thought were appropriate for the class to see, and I thought that was very enlightening.  I think that it would have been beneficial if the students who posted these extra videos and photographs got to share them in class so everyone was aware of what they were posting, in case some students had not viewed other blogs.  I also think that requiring students to comment on three different blog posts every week turned out to be less beneficial than what we thought they would be.  I feel as though most people were commenting on blogs because they had to fulfill the requirement, and not because they had a valuable response or opinion to contribute.  Maybe limiting the comments to one a week would be more beneficial, and we would see more thought-provoking comments and questions instead of the standard ‘I agree’ or ‘I disagree.’

Although this class had many very strong parts, other aspects of this course were not as beneficial.  I am sure I will not be the first or last person to say this, but Karen Armstrong’s book was very difficult to read and understand for everyone, and even more so for students like me who have no prior knowledge of the conflict or the history of Jerusalem.  Trying to keep track of the different people and places discussed in the book was very difficult, and at some points I found myself thoroughly confused as to what was going on.  I think that it would be in the best interest of the class if a new book was chosen, or if there were any documentaries of a similar nature that could either supplement or completely replace reading Armstrong’s book or a book similar to it.  I think that in most cases it is easier to understand something when you can visually see and hear it, instead of reading and trying to work ideas out in your head.  Also, I think that watching a documentary would cut down on the time we took during the course to read Armstrong’s book, and could allow for either more class discussion or more video conferencing.

Another aspect of the class that I did not feel was very beneficial was the conferencing that we did with Ohio State at the beginning of the semester.  I feel as though a lot of time was wasted at the beginning of class each day trying to set up the connection between our class and Ohio State’s, or we were waiting for Ohio State to settle into class since their class started later than ours.  Although we both listened in on the video conferences, we had no real class-to-class interactions with the group from Ohio State.  Also, after our video conferences were done and we began to just have class discussions, we would just immediately mute or end the connection with Ohio State at the beginning of each class.  I think that if we had more interactions with them it would have been slightly more beneficial to video conference with them every day, but I believe that the way our class-to-class communication was utilized during this course was not very useful.  I think that if this course continues to have this interaction with the Ohio State course, it would be more beneficial to have a combined class blog of both IU and OSU.  This would stimulate more interaction between the two courses, and then maybe even stimulate class-to-class discussions via the video conferencing about topics students have blogged about.  I think that having the same course going on simultaneously at another university is a very good idea, but it just needs to be better utilized for the idea to have a more beneficial impact.

Overall, I feel like this class pushed me and stretched my boundaries in ways that other classes have not.  The general set-up of this class—the blogs, the video conferencing, thought-provoking in-class discussions—was very new to me, and definitely not like the normal lecture-homework-test class set-up that I am used to.  Although there were set-backs when it came to using the class technology, I think that it was a good change of pace for me.  I can walk away from this class with a better understanding of a topic that I formerly had no knowledge of, and I can also walk away with the realization that I need to make myself more aware of my global surroundings.  I have learned a lot from the people we held video conferences with, from my professor, and most importantly from my classmates.  I hope that this class continues on and that this project—in some way or another—has an impact on those who are involved.


Monday, April 1, 2013

My Position

As I've indicated in previous posts, I have absolutely no knowledge on the Arab-Israeli conflict and what it entails, so I did not have a position or a stake in the matter.  After taking this class, I have become more aware of the situation and it has broadened my thoughts as well as making me more aware of what is going on around the world, and not just what affects me and my life.

It was really eye-opening to listen to the speakers that we had.  I enjoyed learning about the different perspectives of the people who are actually living through this conflict, as well as those who have extensively studied the topic.  I also think that the Karen Armstrong book gave me a better history of Jerusalem and the constant conflict that surrounds the city, even though I still may not understand all of it.  I also found it eye-opening to listen to my classmates thoughts and ideas about the conflict.  Most of you have some sort of background or identify with one group or the other, or you may have extensive knowledge about the conflict. Some of you have even visited Jerusalem.  I think that listening to my classmates was the most rewarding part of this class.

So after this semester, I still do not have an opinion or position on the conflict, but I did walk away with much more knowledge and awareness of this struggle.  I have learned to think about these issues in a different way and it has also made me become more aware of the other struggles that are occurring daily around the world.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Reading Response 16

This class is very different than other classes I've taken before--it's caused me to think in a different way than I usually do in business classes.  It's really caused me to be more aware of what is going on around the world and think about issues in a different light.  I think this class has been very beneficial, but I have also had some difficulty when it comes to this class.

I come from a very non-religious background. I didn't grow up going to church every Sunday or having any strong religious beliefs.  Because of this, coming into the class I had no knowledge of the history of Jerusalem or any of the religious aspects that are involved in the conflict.  Having no real background on the topic before entering the class was a struggle for me because during the first few weeks while we were discussing the history of Jerusalem I felt as though many of my classmates had strong knowledge on the subject.  At first, this intimidated me, but as the weeks went on, I think I learned just as much (if not more) about the conflict from these classmates. I enjoyed listening to their ideas, experiences, and opinions. Although I had difficulty understanding and putting everything together (and still don't completely understand some of it) I do believe I benefited from it.  This class put me in a place that I had never been before, and I think that this is one class I can walk away from knowing that I truly did learn something.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Reading Response 15

Exploring these websites about the LGBTQ community and their efforts in Jerusalem was very interesting.  I thought that the blog was enlightening because it gave me perspective from interns and other people who are involved with the Jerusalem Open House and their experiences.  I think it is really cool that despite all of the conflict that surrounds the city, the Jerusalem Open House puts aside the Arab-Israeli conflict to focus on a different conflict that is just as important.

Another website that I found particularly interesting was the one that was for the documentary call 'City of Borders.' The documentary follows the owner of the only gay bar in Jerusalem, as well as both Israeli and Palestinian community members, and shows the daily issues they encounter. There was a quote on this page that struck me. The Israeli bar owner said, "When I read in the Bible I could be killed for being gay, I understood what it was like to be Palestinian."  I think that it's interesting how he drew this parallel.  Maybe this could help put the conflict into perspective in some way.  I think watching the documentary would give us more insight.


1) What other LGBTQ efforts are going on in Jerusalem?

2) What major efforts have been put forth by JOH and has it been able to help change the perspective of people living in Jerusalem?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Reading Response 14

I found both of these readings very interesting.  The first reading by Suad Amiry gave me insight into Palestinian life from someone directly, instead of reading a paper that discusses what the author learned from visiting or researching.  Both chapters also showed humor in their situation. It was nice to read that because most of our articles revolve around emotions of sadness and frustration instead of humor. One part of this reading that stuck out to me was how the Palestinian veterinarian acted when it came to giving the female dog a rabies shot.  I wish we could have gotten more detail as to why the vet acted this way.  I also found it interesting how Suad's second dog obtained a Jerusalem passport just so she could get treatment from the veternarian.  It's crazy to think how a dog can obtain something that many people have been trying to get their whole life, and also that the dog had to obtain a passport in the first place.  It really shows how complicated and confusing the whole conflict is.

I also found the second reading enlightening.  Portraying Jerusalem in a feminine manner gave me a different perspective as to how the city is viewed by those fighting over it.  It shows how both sides want to 'possess' it. She talks about the similarities between men desiring to possess Jerusalem just as they want to 'possess' women, and how instead of wanting to possess them, they should be 'loved with equality' (both women and Jerusalem).  Bringing in this new feminist perspective gives me a clearer picture of how many people (both Israelis and Palestinians) view Jerusalem.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Weblog Journal 4: Music

Music plays a very large part in my life.  Whether it's studying, walking to class, or driving somewhere, I am always listening to music.  Music can be used to calm emotions, to express feelings, and many other things.  I think that music somewhat defines who we are as people.  Some people associate tastes in music to the background of that person.  For example, I come from a very small farm town and only graduated with 68 students in my class, so people could assume that I listen to more country music than other genres.  In my case, this is true, but that is not the case for every person.  I see music as a way to express yourself and who you are.

I think that when it comes to issues (whether it be in the United States or dealing with the Arab-Israeli conflict) music can be used as a large platform to express thoughts.  I think that musicians who reach a very broad audience have more influence over their fans than they think, and by singing or rapping about issues going on in their country they can help influence their opinions.  I think that this really invokes a conversation between people and it can be helpful to get others to really think about what is going on in their country.  I think that this can both be helpful and hurtful when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict.  As we saw in the documentary, it seems as though both rappers only invoked more rage between the two groups instead of working towards peace.  I think that if music is used in a positive way, it can be used as a good platform to work towards a better understanding between the two groups.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Reading Response 13

This reading response revolves around the documentary Channel the Rage which follows the friendship (and falling out) of an Israeli rapper and a Palestinian rapper, and the differences between the two that revolve around the conflict.  Another article discussed the background of Israeli hip-hop and its comparison to 'black American hip-hop.'  I think both articles abourt Channel the Rage as well as the one comparing different cultures of hip-hop are good background articles to get us thinking about the conflict when it comes to different cultural aspects.

The first article discussing Channel the Rage gave me a good background and overview of the rappers as well as the documentary itself.  It was interesting to see how their views changed once the Second Intifada happened in 2000.  It was also interesting to read about the background of each rapper and see how they were using their music to take a political stance.  The second article was of interest to me as well because it was a blog plost that was a reflection of the documentary by a student.  I really liked how the student made connections between the violence that was occurring and the relationship between the rappers.  It really shows how events such as the Second Intifada can inflame the conlfict even more, and further identifies the differences between the Israelis and Palestinians.

The third article discusses the culture of Israeli rappers, and how they have taken on some of the 'blackness' from American hip-hop and infused their style (dress and appearance) into their own.  Although the Iraeli rappers have taken on African American rap's style and dress, they fail to see the true culture behind the lyrics and music that is created.  Dorchin, who wrote the book that this article revolves around, criticizes Israeli rappers by saying that they stray away from rapping about political, social, or cultural issues (which is something that is very common in American rap).  I found this interesting because the lyrics that were highlighted in the first Channel the Rage article were strongly politically affiliated.  I think that it is more difficult for Israeli rappers to really make a political stance because the conflict is something that seems to almost consume every person living there, and because of this, many people (and radio stations) do not want to play or listen to songs that hold such strong opinions (especially opinions they may not agree with).  I look forward to learning more about this culture and watching the documentary tomorrow to better understand this issue.