My Journey

In September, 2009, this Canadian boy started a masters program the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, learning about ecology and health, middle-eastern politics and the environment, and how a dire problem may facilitate a region's coming together for the better. This Blog is a record of my head-first dive into this immense world.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A smattering of goings on

[note: my interview with the french CBC will air at 7:20 am Toronto time on 860 AM or 90.3 FM]

Sorry it has been so long, and I haven't completed the water trip story yet, we've been busy here preparing for finals and going on surprise desert outings. I will try and give a fuller update soon. Here are just a few things going on:

A peaceful protest I attended about a month ago turned violent last week when soldiers started making arrests and firing tear gas. The protest is a non-violent protest against the wanton appropriation of Palestinian land to build the separation wall:

A really interesting article in the New York Review of books reviews the growing rift between what American Jews imagine Israel to be (a light upon the nations, a peaceful, just, democratic state) and what it is actually becoming on the ground ( a state in which about 50 percent of the population would take rights away from Israeli Arabs and expel Palestinians from the West Bank, and in which governmental structures are beginning to follow suit):

About a week ago we got a visit from the deputy prime minister of Israel, "Bogey" Ya'alon, who gave us a talk on his experiences and his views on the conflict and a potential peace.  We both seemed to believe that projects like ours, where real interaction and peace-building happen between peoples, is a good place to start, but in terms of macropolicy we were definitely at odds.  This, after all, was a man quoted as saying: "The virus 'Peace Now,' and if you will, the elites - damage they can cause is very great.  As far as I'm concerned, Jews can, and should live in all of the Land of Israel forever."  I'm happy to say that the session was conducted very civilly, though it did leave a number of people quite frustrated.

I have recently heard a good many people talking about a new Israeli political movement called the National Left, which is an attempt to take back Zionism from the settler movement, which has called any leftist anti-Zionist and ant-Israel.  Their manifesto is free online, and was banned from book stores in Israel after pressure from settler groups.  You can find it here:

In other news, Ontario premier Dalton Mcguinty will be visiting the Arava Institute tomorrow, May 26th! He's on an Israel trip to promote ties between Ontario and Israel in science and technology, especially renewable energy, and will get to hear from a panel of students. I was also interviewed about this visit on the French CBC, and the interview will hopefully air tomorrow. I will let you know when I know exactly what time it will be.

And finally, I will be presenting a paper at the Israeli Society for the History and Philosophy of Science annual meeting this Sunday! The paper is about Julien Offray de la Mettrie, the 18th century French philosopher and physician who published a book called "The Man Machine" in which he maintained that Descartes was right about living bodies being machines, but wrong about there being a separate substance of the soul. Mettrie decided that all living phenomena could arise from organized matter alone, laying the groundwork for metaphysical naturalism in physiology, and getting him promptly booted out of France.
More news as it comes.

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