Separated Only By Lines

This infographic portrays the proximity of extremely holy religious sites honored by four different religions in the old city of jerusalem. It highlights both the intensity, conflict and clashing of different groups as well as the coexistance of many religious groups.  The close proximity of the varying religions shows that although issues do arise, living side by side can be a part of the solution as much as part of the problem.

SOURCE: http://blog.bibleplaces.com/2006/09/old-city-population.html

 

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The Start of Something New

Startup Nation by Dan Senor is a book that highlights the Israeli Technology sector as the driving force behind Israeli societal progress. Senor traces this idea from Israel’s foundation- at which point the land was empty, barren, and dry- until today. If I learned but one thing from Senor’s book it is that economic integration and prosperity are the most effective paths toward peace and the most successful bridges between different worlds. In conjunction with my recent trip to The United Arab Emirates and The Sultanate of Oman, this book helped me see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an entirely new light.

If financial incentives can unite all types of Israelis- Jew with Muslim, orthodox with secular, J-street with Likud- this principle should apply to the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Recently, the Israeli Government began construction on a business park on the border crossing between Israel and Gaza. These offices will house Arabs from Gaza, many of whom have never met a Jew who wasn’t a soldier, and Jews from Israel. After realizing thatimgres.pngthough distinct, both cultures can coexist in an office setting, the voices of peace and unity will outlast those of division and fear. In another example, since Hamas, the elected Government in Gaza, fails to provide basic services to its residents, many Palestinians are without running water or power for hours on end. Israel just finished building a power-plant that will provide a megawatt of energy to Gaza.
When people have power they read, learn, create, and build. They acquire a liking for peace, not hate. The reason I, a Jew who has countless stamps from Israel in my passport, was allowed to enter UAE or Oman is because a tolerant and open position towards Israel has proven economically fruitful for Gulf Nations. In conversations with many people, I learned that citizens of those countries are not anti-Israel. In fact, they see Israel as a major trade partner, strategic ally, and fellow endorser of peace.

However, peace between Israel and Palestine will be unattainable so long as Palestinians reject Israel’s right to exist. If denying the legitimacy of a Jewish state is more important to Palestinians than acquiring their own state, peace will never come. And only though economic stability, integration, and prosperity will Palestinians and Israelis start to see each other as people, and begin to catalyze a meaningful process towards reconciliation.

Together We Stand, Hand In Hand

Manipulated photo with changed meaning:

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The photo that I chose to alter is an iconic picture of Harry Truman, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin. Credited to the National Archives, it was taken shortly after the Nazi surrender in World War Two.  The original photo carries a tremendous amount of weight. It signifies two leaders in a time of tremendous tension with clear opposing views, momentarily putting aside their differences in order to capture this moment.

I decided to change the meaning by switching the faces of Harry Truman and Joseph Stalin. I imposed Ben Gourin’s face over Churchill’s and Khaled Mashal over Joseph Stalin’s. Ben Gourin was founder and first Prime Minister of Israel and Khaled Mashal is the leader of the Islamic Palestinian organization known as Hamas. I made these alterations to show two faces of groups with extremely polarizing religious and political views. It now depicts the western world and the Middle East coming together to resolve a grave conflict. Joining hands is a sign of unity and represents the planting of the seeds to a solution in the struggles between the Arab Nation, the State of Israel, and America’s relationship with both.

My choice in pasting ­­Khaled Mashal’s face on Stalin’s body was to portray him as someone with skewed ideals, and by putting Ben Gourin’s face on Churchill’s body, I aimed to depict him as the noble man who will start the peace process. My alterations change the story that the picture tells, now, with two leaders in the Middle East. One leader represents the legitimacy of the state of Israel and its people, and the other aiming to delegitimize Israel and an active member of the Anti- Zionism movement, shaking hands in the presence of a great American figure. My photo shows men at great odds coming together, reconciling opposing views that have consistently put millions’ of lives at stake, and starting the movement to a better tomorrow.

Below is the original photo and the photos that I used in my manipulation.

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Just Another Setback

United Nations resolution

The source that I read– and analyzed- is the United Nations resolution condemning Israel and alleging no historical ties between the Jewish religion and the Jewish capital city of Jerusalem. . To me, and Jews and Zionists the world over, this serves as but one more example of the United Nations’ and the international community’s complacency, and perhaps even willing participation, in the isolation and delegitimization of Israel. Many supporters of the resolution argue that it is the role of the United Nations to step up when its values are compromised, and Israel is compromising its values through occupation of The West Bank and of East Jerusalem, which includes the Kotel and other historically and religiously significant sites.

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However, The United Nations General Assembly alone, in 2016, adopted 20 resolutions condemning Israel. The same body issued 4 condemnations to the rest of the world, combined. In other words, in the eyes of the United Nations, Israeli actions to settle on lands it won in a defensive war and refute the attempted secession by a group of Israeli citizens and Jordanian refugees who call themselves “Palestinians” is five times as atrocious as Syria’s human rights violations, ISIL’s terror attacks, North Korea’s repressive dictatorship, and every other negative event in the world. Israel does not deserve this disproportionate reprimanding. The credibility of the source is clear as it is a primary source taken directly from the United Nations.

Sniffing Out The Suspect

At first glance, one might not question an article published by a world renowned news source, although after conducting the SMELL test on the LA times article “Trump’s unproven claims of widespread voter fraud trip up White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer” many gaps in the coherence of the piece came to light. The LA Times is an increasingly liberal news source that has not only been reliable in predicting the outcome of the recent election, but also in informing readers about politics, the economy, and social news.

This article aims to investigate the claims that as many as three to five million votes were illegally cast, leading to Donald Trump’s loss in the popular vote. These allegations were “supported” by a study conducted at Old Dominion University and a piece from a conspiracy- theory website, Infowars. The study conducted at Old Dominion University has since been widely discredited while the story ran in Infowars has not been backed up by any credible source. This article mentions “facts” without sighting where they came from or looking into the claims. When Donald Trump specifically mentions the number of illegally cast votes at the beginning of the article, he does not give solid evidence as to where this number came from or if it is sound.

During White House Secretary Sean Spicer’s briefing regarding the allocations of voter fraud, “Spicer ended the briefing abruptly after an aide walked in and placed a note on his lectern” No further investigation was done as to what the note said or as to who the aid was who delivered the note. From this, Americans can observe the significant point that the reporter on this case did not “check the freezer”. In other words, the reporter implies the witnesses this scenario, but does not make any reference to the aide themselves nor the information which they revealed to Spicer. Additionally, when Spicer was questioned he used ambiguous words such as “appears” and “it seemed”, further leading to the conclusion of the lack of evidence throughout this article. Logical and coherent articles are in nature supposed to follow the premise conclusion format.

This article does not follow that basic principle in the way that the evidence does not reasonably support the conclusion. This piece is specifically about the legitimacy of widespread voter fraud, Trump stands by the fact that it exists while this article directly states that no evidence of such fraud exists. If claims regarding voter fraud exist it would only make sense to look into such allegations. Instead, no investigation is underway.

The reasons that Donald trump may have conjured up such falsehood is seemingly evident, he wanted to give himself and the public a reason that he lost the popular vote in order to legitimize his presidency. This article speaks to a larger issue within the Trump administration. That being while Donald Trump recognizes and speaks out on an issue, he makes no active effort to inquire about these claims he seemingly cares deeply about.

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Blacked Out This Weekend

The idea of disconnecting from all forms of electronic devices is not a foreign one for me. I have been raised in a Jewish household that observes the Sabbath. This practice includes not using any electronics from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. Instead of scrolling through Facebook or binge-watching Westworld I talked and played Monopoly and Bananagrams with family and friends and read quietly. I made the decision, after my Bat- Mitzvah to abandon this practice. This “media blackout” assignment was enjoyably reminiscent for me, although some difficulties did arise. Through this exercise I realized that GPS and Uber are unparalleled inventions upon which I am heavily reliant.  This became apparent in hour sixteen of my blackout when I was trying to make my way to LA Live for dinner. What is usually a thirty-minute pleasant stroll or a six minute Uber ride turned into a hectic hour and a half journey with consistent wrong turns and sketchy encounters. When I finally got to dinner all my friends were on their phones, checking Instagram, Snapchat and all the apps that I use all too frequently. At first I instinctively reached for my phone in my back pocket only to remember that it was not there. Throughout the entire blackout I kept thinking I heard my phone buzzing but it was not, I now refer to this as “twenty-first century phantom limb”. At first I felt very out of the loop;  my friends were all talking about a new meme or a post that I had not seen. The world moves at light speed and I missed an alarming amount of news while disconnected and felt that I was missing out on a tremendous amount of “social news”. At the same time, it became clear to me that the amount of time I spend clicking though a myriad of personally meaningless Snapchat stories can be far better channeled into things more worthy of my time. In my experiencing of this assignment, I have concluded that disconnecting has both positive and negative aspects. There is no substitute for the technological advantages, even in the most mundane example of relying on my own wits to get to a restaurant. But, this exercise forced me to confront the obvious fact that the distraction of social media is incredibly time-consuming. And, this exercise also served as a wonderful reminder from my childhood, that, while communicating through social media is convenient, there will never be a substitute for extended periods of direct interactions with family and friends

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In the twenty-four hours after the blackout I decided I would count the amount of times I check my phone throughout the day. I quickly lost count as I looked at my phone to check the time or to open a Snapchat.  There are certain times throughout the day when I always check “essential apps” (Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, CNN), specifically right when I wake up and just as I am going to sleep. I also use my phone as a shield when I feel like I am in an uncomfortable or awkward situation. I notice that whenever I feel my phone buzz in my pocket I immediately check it…and usually end up venturing to other apps. In reflecting on my use of social media, I realize that I use Snapchat the most; scrolling  though snapchat stories to see what my friends are doing happens more than fifteen times throughout the day( far more than I was prepared to admit to myself) . Some of my apps such as CCN and email send me notifications that make my back pocket buzz when anything of note takes place. This happens approximately  seven to times times throughout the day. I am constantly concerned that I may be missing something important whether it be a text from a guy I like, political updates at this momentous moment in American history or a livestream of an unfolding crisis. Although I do use my phone for social media a lot, a decent portion of my activities are related to navigating my life as well as staying on top of what is taking place in the world.

 

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