Jerusalem Day 8: Tuesday, May 28, 2013

28 May

This morning began with politics class with Professor Topol. We talked about the papers we had submitted, discussing national identity and getting into a lively debate about Michael Levine, an American who moved to Israel and ended up joining the IDF and giving his life to the cause. All students thought his act was noble, but some brought up the potential negative implications of having people move to a country just to participate in a war.

We also had a short presentation on caricatures (or cartoons) in Israel. It was basically a sample of a presentation we will be asked to do at the end of the trip. An Israeli student came to the class to present to us, and it was interesting to meet another Hadassah student and to see the interesting cartoon samples he showed and analyzed in his presentation. His main thesis was that cartoons normalize the violence and the war in Israelis’ lives.

After a short break, the class headed off to the Israeli Supreme Court. Arriving just on time, we joined the 12:00pm tour. We learned a lot about the architecture of the courthouse. There is a repeated mixing of old and new: for example, some walls are made of Jerusalem stone and designed to look similar to the Western Wall, while walls right across the hall are brand new and modern looking. There is also an emphasis on two main shapes: circles to represent justice and lines to represent the law. Triangles are incorporated as well to symbolize the hierarchy of the legal professionals: lawyers on the bottom, justices in the middle, and high justices on the top. (The three-floor library within the courthouse is also divided by floor in this same way.)

Other than the architecture, our guide also talked about the legal system here in Israel. She emphasized that it is a simple system and a unique system, asking us not to compare it to American law. There are 30 local courthouses in the country, 6 higher courthouses (one for each region: north, south, east, west, and two in the center), and one Supreme Court which is located here in Jerusalem. The Supreme Court hears appellate cases and human rights cases. Justices hear the cases instead of juries, and there can be any number of justices assigned to a case: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, or even all 15 justices. (It is always an odd number, for obvious reasons.) There is a committee that decides how many justices sit on each case, and a computer randomly generates which justices are chosen. In reality, I don’t see how it is all that different from the American court system…

The tour brought us into a courtroom, which was filled with natural light and designed with circles and lines just as the rest of the building. (The hallway where the five courtrooms were located was familiar to me: it was rather similar to the feel of Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston, where I co-oped last Spring.) We also saw a beautiful courtyard and a small museum. The museum showed the three main influences on the Israeli court system: the British, the Turks, and the Jews. Unfortunately, some of the more interesting pieces of the museum were only available in Hebrew, so we didn’t spend too much time there before leaving as a group to head back to our apartments and make a quick lunch before continuing with our day.

In the afternoon, we met up with the students from University of Colorado Boulder at the place where they are staying (which is nowhere near as perfectly and centrally located as our amazing apartments are!) and see a presentation on Palestinian and Israeli art by Carol Zemel, an art historian from the University of Toronto. She showed us some pieces that are well-known, including some that we had seen at the Israel Museum. Needless to say, we felt rather cultured for recognizing several of the pieces! Zemel had a great perspective though and was able to explain the tie-in to Palestinian ideals for the Palestinian art: there is a common focus on land, for example. There were also several videos we saw, along with drawings and photographs. The mixed media made for an interesting discussion. Something I hadn’t thought of before was the way in which art is shared: photographs and videos are able to be duplicated infinitely for multiple exhibits across the world, while painted or handmade art can only exist as an original in one place at a time.

After Zemel’s talk, we went to see even more art, but this time it was canvases instead of photos on a screen. We went to the home and art gallery of Linda Zisquit. Her home was beautiful, and the pieces she showed us even more so. She told the stories of the artists, the story of how she came to own an art gallery, and the stories told within the canvases. Somehow, an hour passed by in the blink of an eye. After some water and snacks in her kitchen, we all went our separate ways to get a real dinner. Half of us ended up at Burger Bar, which was delicious. (All the restaurants here are named ___ Bar. There is a Burger Bar, Waffle Bar, Focaccia Bar, Bagel Bar, etc.) All in all, a long day, and with an interesting mix of politics and art, as is the nature of our studies here.

-Marissa Florio

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One Response to “Jerusalem Day 8: Tuesday, May 28, 2013”

  1. nu2013israel May 28, 2013 at 6:55 pm #

    Sounds like a lovely and full day

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