My name is Alexandra Levine and I am in going into my fourth year of studies at McGill, majoring in Honours International Development-with a focus on refugee policies and human rights- accompanied by a minor in Jewish studies. This summer, I was looking for a meaningful internship that not only addressed a key developmental issue, but also one that was able to encompass my Jewish studies, learning, and love of Israel.
Two summers ago I was studying Arab-Israeli conflict in Israel and noticed a large and impoverished African population residing and conversing near the new central bus station in downtown Tel Aviv. I am not sure what it was exactly but something about the scene sparked something inside me and I went home that night to do research regarding what I had seen. Evidently, unbeknownst to me, who at the time was solely focused on the Arab-Israeli conflict, there was a mass wave of asylum seekers entering illegally into Israel through the Sinai, the majority hailing from Eritrea, with other minority groups including Sudanese, Ghanians and Nigerians. … More Working Inside the System to Affect Change
I cannot tow a line in fear of not offending someone, so I write this piece with the utmost honesty and respect, acknowledging that my perspective is limited and yet, that my personal narrative has value. … More The Story The News Will Never Write: A Reflection on July 26th, 2016 in East Jerusalem
Israel is a land of stories. Stories of immigration, homelands, hardships, victories, love, war, poverty and success. Stories and history intertwine with each other to make this land flow rich with Nescafé and Sachlav.
The main story most commonly discussed (argued) in Israel is the Arab-Israeli conflict, but there are many narratives in this conflict that are often overlooked. One that has found its way into my heart is that of an Arab group called the Bedouins.
The Bedouins are traditionally a nomadic group who live in the Negev desert. When Israel became a state and country borders were created, some Bedouins were living on the Israeli side and on the Jordan side. The Bedouins who happened to be living in the new State of Israel in 1949 were forcibly moved from their homes into “temporary” camps…and have since lived there because they are not legally allowed to move. There are three types of places Bedouins are allowed to live in the Negev: government built townships, recognized villages, and unrecognized villages. … More Stories
This is exactly what I set out to learn when I was looking for a volunteer program eight months ago. However, while the program I chose happened to be in Israel, I couldn’t imagine gaining this insight anywhere else. This tiny country, in which it only takes half a day to drive from top to bottom, is so intrinsically complex that almost every major world power is a stakeholder in its affairs. And in a way, I’m a stakeholder too. I’m not an Israeli citizen, but I could be if I wanted to, through the Right of Return policy. I haven’t donated to Israeli charities in the past, but I received Israel Bonds my whole life – many of which I used to travel to Israel in 2010. And whether I invest or divest in this country, I am engaging with Israel on some level. I just choose to engage with this country through (what I believe to be) a productive, sustainable means. … More Wooaaahhh, We’re Halfway There!
Today’s participant blog post comes from Benji Bernstein, a participant in the Yahel Social Change Program. Benji’s group is living, learning and volunteering in Lod, Israel for 9 months this year. This post was taken from Benji’s personal blog, which can be found here. The last few weeks in Ramat Eliyahu have been very busy, but exciting as always. … More Creating Dialogue on Social Change Through Israeli Hip-Hop
This year on MLK Day, I found myself thinking of nonviolence a bit differently. I had always taken nonviolence as a given—it seemed obvious that the most effective road to change was through peaceful protest. But recent experiences in Israel have suggested otherwise. There was the Palestinian activist who told me that his people are justified in using deadly force out of desperation. There are reports of Israeli soldiers raiding homes after the deadly shooting in a Tel Aviv bar this month. And there is the constant military presence, at checkpoints and train stations, that reminds me that the only way to deal with threats of violence is with more guns. … More In Defense of Nonviolence
Today’s participant blog post comes from Benji Bernstein, a participant in the Yahel Social Change Program. Benji’s group is living, learning and volunteering in Rishon LeZion, Israel for 9 months this year. This post was taken from Benji’s personal blog, which can be found here. It was a beautiful New Years Day morning in Tel Aviv. I had just … More Life Goes On
Deciding to pick up and move to Israel for a year was an easy decision. This was the next step in my life after graduating from university (Carleton – Go Ravens!). I knew that after finishing school, I had a responsibility to myself and the world to give back. Nonetheless, I had huge expectations. I was going to change the world! Based on my background in social justice, I was lucky to have found a program such as Yahel, which incorporated assisting community leaders with major social initiatives, and giving my thoughts and (Canadian!) perspective towards creating sustainable and positive change. I was excited to embark on this incredible and challenging journey with 15 other motivated young adults from around North America. … More Seeing The Big Picture In The Small Picture
In Israel, I have been fortunate enough to have several incredible families to adopt me. In Lod, I found a new family to also adopt me. My host family, the Ankorys have made this new city feel more like home, accepting my lack of Hebrew with a smile and excitement to teach me and improve their English. They literally live around the corner from me which makes going to Shabbat dinner easy and delicious. One of my new favorite foods is this couscous soup that their grandmother brought from Tunisia that is so good that I had to learn the Hebrew word for yummy to describe it (ta-im)! The grandparents immigrated from Tunisia in the midst of the war, the grandfather moving first to Israel and the grandmother following after. … More Treasures
In all, the night showed the importance of having pride in your roots, as there is so much beauty and power in the cultures and histories of each ethnicity. Sometimes though, what kids need most in order to be influenced to see this is young role models–whether its those at the community center, a young rabbi, or their youth group “representative.” … More Role Models and The Sigd