Monday, July 17, 2006

Day 2 as a refugee

My friend & research colleague Yael arrived safely from Haifa last night (also bearing my laptop computer so most of my reserach is safe, phew!) and we stayed up late watching the news and talking about the situation. It seems Haifa has gone from a feeling of curious about what was going on at the first rocket arrival on Thursday to caution at the weekend to caution yesterday with the 2nd attack to now being in shut down migled with fear. The university is offically closed, and the web site in Hebrew "demands" that everyone should stay away and stay at home. I haerd today that they have closed the unviersity dorms and set peopel home to their families, and the foreign students have been bused to Jerusalem to stay at Hebrew Univ dorms. So I guess no matter what I would be here for the time being.

I have used my time here to build my research social network of Jerusalem contacts. This morning I had coffee with a professor from Aberdeen, Scotland that I have only known online who has invited me to be on a panel at SSSR in October. She suggested we meet in the German Colony at a cafe that was bombed by terrorists during the 2nd Intifada, "they never bomb the same place twice" she said (you gotta love matter of fact Jewish logic!) Our conversation got interrupted by a camera crew who had descended on the cafe to do an interview with some local political figures and foreign commentators on the situation. From my eavesdropping it sounded like they thought Hezzbollah needed to be stopped and if they would not listen to international pressure to stop bombing Israel and hand back the hostages, then Israel had no choice but to respond. And so it goes...

After my friend's expereince yesterday, compounded by 3 weeks of little sleep due to her PhD data collection, her mum had booked up both into a therapist for massages today. In the middle of my massage the 3rd set of rockets fell on Haifa. No one was killed, but an apartment building was destroyed. So it is uncertain when we will return to Haifa at this point, I went underware and toiletery shopping this afternoon for necessary supplies. At least I am a refugee who has a credit card!

The researcher side of me find this a very interesting situation. Especially watching the news coverage. It is interesting that most of the inital picture from many of the bombs sites don't come from TV cameras but from video fooltage capture via video mobile phones. In the background of all the news report standing behind the journlist you will also see people taking camera phone pics or you see them calling their friend and waving, obviously to say "hey I am on TV right now can you see me" (which seems to drive the journalists a bit nuts). Also you see the incorporation of blog commentary into the news reports. Last night they did a news featurein Israel chanel 2 news which had some images that people had emailed into the news station coupled with commentary from a female blogger in Lebanon on the situation there (the report was in Hebrew so I can't be more specific about the details). Also it is interesting that Israeli television also use Al- Jazerra footage in its reports of what is happeing in Lebanon. As far as foreign news goes, Sky has been the best about giving balanced detailsl and more full coverage of the situation. CNN has been too blase and general and the BBC I have found is too keen on making overarching statements like everyone in Haifa is full of fear and locked indoors (not true, yes there is a sense of fear but I've talked with people today and they are very calm though are staying close to buildings) and everyone in Israel is behind the Israeli government's decision to invade & Bomb Lebanon (except they forgot to note the 2000 person demonstartion in Tel Aviv yesterday of people who are calling for Israel to stop their invasion negotiate with Hezzbollah and push for a cease fire).

As far as Jerusalem as a safe place, well this is Israel after all, so all is uncertain. About an hour ago a suicide bomber was discovered (in time Thank God) headed into the center of Jerusalem with a backpack of explosives. But this is an isolated incident and thigns are pretty business as usual, though the security presence on public transport and in shops seesm to be a bit more keen.

Sleep well and I will keep you posted!


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