Wednesday was quite a bit less hectic than Tuesday, but no less productive. I spent the morning answering emails and making phone calls, as usual, to set up meetings for the coming week, and doing more exploratory research.
After lunchtime, our landlord arrived from Tel Aviv to inspect the apartment, pick up a year’s worth of rent cheques, and to have us sign the tenancy agreement. It was all fairly painless.
More interesting was my meeting in the afternoon with Dani Miodownik, a professor of Political Science at Hebrew University. We had been in touch almost a year ago when I was looking for an institutional affiliation for a Fulbright application. He has done a lot of work on protest mobilization, ethnic conflict, and civil war and has made significant contributions to agent-based modeling of these political behaviors. While this is certainly not the methodology I employ, we work in similar issue areas and had plenty to talk about.
Aside from having a real academic conversation about my research, the first I have been able to have since I arrived here, we discussed my agenda for the next year and he related a number of contacts to me who will be of definite help in my work. He also offered to get me on the list for political science events happening on campus for the next year and got me lined up to write a book review of a recently released work directly relevant to my research. Really, a great meeting.
In the afternoon, I returned home and helped my roommate clean up the apartment, picking up and mostly throwing out the stuff that the former tenants left behind. In the evening, I went out to meet a friend for the HaDag Nachash concert at Sultan’s Pool, an outdoor concert venue nestled in the valley between the Old City and Yemin Moshe, the first neighborhood to be built outside of the city walls. The band itself (their name literally means the fish-snake and is a spoonerism for the Hebrew words nahag chadash: new driver) ranges in style from funk, hip-hop, ska, to jazz with a bit of electronica thrown in as well.
They are wildly popular in Israel appealing across age, gender, geographic, and religious demographics. My friend pointed out to me that many families were in attendance even across three generations. Near our seats, a mother, daughter, and grandmother were dancing together almost the entire evening. Their music tends toward the political left and is infused with lyrics about politics, peace, the land, Israel, and Zionism. Prior to ulpan, I tended to enjoy these kinds of concerts but as if I was listening to gibberish. My Hebrew is now just good enough to be frustrated that I couldn’t understand most of what they were saying. Practice makes perfect.
Today promises to be another very full day. In a few hours, I will be meeting a tour led by Ateret Kohanim, an organization which purchases homes primarily in the Old City of Jerusalem from Arabs for Jewish residence. They particularly focus on those properties which are believed to have been owned by Jews prior to their expulsion from the Old City in 1948.
I do not want to go into too much depth on the organization’s background just yet, as I am sure I will learn more today. I have been told that the tour, which will primarily go through the Old City, could last up to four hours, so it should take up most of the day. Later next week I have a meeting scheduled with one of the organization’s spokespeople to ask and get answers to the deeper questions I won’t be able to voice in a group setting.
Stay tuned for a full report!