Your favorite Israeli team in Belgium gave today a presentation about Israeli at the International Students Club in KU Leuven.
We prepared a presentation using www.prezi.com which was a great idea. The preparation took less time than expected with Power Point. J was looking for images and reviewing the texts while D was responsible for the texts, the list of images and the presentation setup.
We had to prepare some 'Israeli' food and really had hard time figuring out what 'Israeli' food could we prepare here in Belgium. Eventually, we prepared white cheese dips with paprica, za'atar and black peper, as well as olive oil with za'atar + bread for dipping. Kudos to the J for the idea as well as for carrying the spices from home.
When we were gathering I expected some harsh reacts from the public,as I've seen a kefiya.Though, eventually it was a young student with no malevolent intentions.
A nice guy named Yuki presented Japan just before us. His presentation was very nice and gave a good overview of Japan. About 20 Japanese came to listen to him and maybe only to him. After his presentation it was hard to get them make silence when I wanted to initiate mine. I'm wondering whether they'll come for the next presentations or came only for the presentation on Japan. I'm probably pessimistic and will have to apologize later. Let's see. I promise a public apology is needed.
Now back to our presentation. Ehud Banay's "דממה דקה" was the song I used to try to get everyone concentrated at me. I got the attention of some people.....Hands clapping and shouting did the rest of the work. Once I had 80% of the people focused, we started. Even though the presentation wasn't polished, it went great. Prezi made a good impression and it seems that people were really eager to hear about Israel beyond the news. The title of the presentation was "Israel - That Place from the News". The main idea of the presentation was to talk with people about the things they less know about Israel. Culture, Music, Food, brief History, communities and diversity in Israel, etc.
People seemed to attentive (or polite....)
I didn't have a group of Japanese with me, but I had my amazing J and my also amazing group of friends from the hostel. Love them! I think they earned the dinner we'll have together later this week.
When we got to the questions session all the questions went to me. A certain guy took the lead and it was going towards confrontation from the first moment. He happily praised the Israeli technology, just to mention that all of it is related to the army. I answered, that everything in Israel is related to the army when all the population has to give its 3 best years.
He further recommended to everyone reading Theodor Herzl's book, claimed there was no real presence of Jews in Israel since the Romans times and that who's the owner of the land should be clarified. Ha yeah, he had another interesting claim - that the two stripes in the Israeli flag are the Nile and the Euphrates - funny we know nothing about it. Just from the mentioning of Herzl's book, I knew the guy is speaking after being loaded with the basic anti-Israeli, quasi intellectual, regular material. They use to find in Herzl a diabolic master plan followed till today to create a huge empire or whatever other blatant invention.
Some quite focused responses seemed to make the required effect - it seems that the crowd appreciated more quite answers over a heated debate.
After a few ping-pong strokes the hostess stopped the questions. The Flemish girls organizing the evening (all cute, sweet and very well organized) seemed not to enjoy the sudden middle eastern heated debate.
Some past reading into Anti-Israeli sites turned out to be worthy.
J approached he guy and explained him why some of the things he says are unrelated to reality. He then had no choice but to approach me. He turned out to be a nice young Egyptian, with a strong will to voice his ideas (very well informed on some things, but dis-informed on others). He tried to continue the debate about Herzl and claim that Gaza is a 1.5 million people jail. I asked him to read some newer Israeli literature and about Gaza, told him that the Palestinians are big children and it's their call what kind of relations they want over their border (rockets or economy).
At the end I got a grim and late advice - 'I understand why you did the Shalit deal. But it was a mistake. Now you made Hamas big and you will have to live with it for years to come'.
Got pleasant reactions from people from Burundi, India, Japan, Belgium and Poland. I again and again feel that the liberal approach works much better than the aggressive-defensive approach. Most of the people here have no preset idea about the middle eastern conflict. They appreciate getting more information and sympathize with a logic, reasonable and honest discussion of the state of things. The main message 'we are like you', does a good job. The clips used where also fondly accepted by the audience.
We presented Israel as we love it, varied and complicated, great music, great food, great industry, talked also about bad things like the effects of brutal capitalism. It seems that love works.
Next presentation will be better now that we have most of the material, are trained and getting to know Prezi even better.
At the end, people enjoyed the cheese dips (huge success) and Japanese snacks and tea. Yummy!
We skipped some drinks in the Old Market with friends celebrating Abhi's birthday. In our way home we ran in total some 200 BA who were drank after a party in the exact sciences campus park. We almost saw a 'live' example of a guy running is bike into a water canal. Slightly funny we must admit.
A 25 minutes walk home at midnight, 12 degrees outside, was great. Now we head to sleep. Tomorrow D has class at 9:00am.
Love you all and GN,
1. On the same note, the bank official who opened D's account turnd out to be an 'Israeli Dances' instructor. He's cute and again not the only one with some kind of affiliation to Israel. Hope you'll meet him when he comes to visit Israel.
2. Next time need to talk more about the Christian community in Israel, give a food recipe and about vegetarianism/halal food in Israel (how easy the life of veggis and muslims his)