Post Doctoral Researchers
Sociology & Anthropology
I received the Lady Davis Post-Doctoral Fellowship for 2001-2 in the Department of Sociology & Anthropology and the Department of Religious Studies. The past two years have not been easy for Israel. Yet, I feel obliged to tell those who are considering to come here, that life in Jerusalem and at the Hebrew University in particular, has been very good for me and my family.
The atmosphere on campus is excellent, classes, research activities and lectures are continuing regularly, and provide an enormous contribution to my work. Since I am also giving classes for graduate and undergraduate students, I cannot help but notice that students are enthusiastic and eager to learn. Everyday life is also relatively serene and convenient. Children are attending their schools and pre-school activities with no interference and continue to engage in their daily activities; visit each other, go out and do whatever children do everywhere, sometimes with even more freedom then other countries I have visited. Therefore I applied for, and was awarded an extension of the one year to the Fellowhship for 2002-3, and I am thoroughly enjoying my stay.
Arriving at the height of the Israeli summer after a six-year break studying in rainy England, my immediate reaction to being here was some kind of heat exhaustion. Slowly, however, my body readjusted itself to the Middle Eastern heat, and got used to living and working in the desert.
When the opportunity of gaining a Lady Davis Fellowship presented itself during my final year of a PhD in England, I hesitated at first, as the image of Israel on the world stage and my TV screen was, to say the least, not an enticing one. Perhaps as a native Israeli, the endless news reports, TV images and heightening political tensions in the area were slightly less shocking, though not less depressing, than they were for my non-Israeli friends, though not for my English partner who accompanied me. But once we arrived, and smelt the familiar heat of a Tel Aviv summer, saw the pines and stones of hilly Jerusalem, and felt the palpable silence of the desert, fear genuinely, and surprisingly, melted away. Life is not only news reports and TV images. True, it is too often punctuated by them, but not dominated by them.
The academic community continues researching, meeting and relaxing; continues to sit on the shaded grass of the Hebrew Unviersity of Jerusalem campus; continues to swap tiny pieces of seemingly obscure information; continues to convene seminars and symposiums.
My fieldwork has been going on, uninterrupted for nearly a year and a half. In the summer it is a hot business, begun at dawn to avoid the heat of the day. In winter it is a windy battle to save the insects under investigation from a muddy end. In spring and Autumn, the true delights of the Israeli climate are a pleasure for all the senses, taking in the blooming of a usually barren landscape, ibex grazing on the mountainside, pleasure-gliders and migrating birds overhead. Trips to colleagues at the universities of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv have not been curtailed, nor have the traditional cafe lunches afterwards. True, we are more alert, but an increased alertness does not harm our enjoyment of this warm, friendly country - its wonderful food, hospitality, landscapes and atmoshphere.
There are tensions, but there is co-operation too, evidenced by the recent camel race organized by our regional council, and attended by both the local Jewish and Bedouin communities. Anyone living here must, of course, hope and pray for an end to the violonce and tension, but that does not prevent me, and many foreign students who continue to come here, from managing to live and do research, enjoying all the while the wide varienty of cultural events and natural scenic beauty this small country has to offer.