Texas A&M Global Programs 2018 Israel Field Study Student Blog

May17 Temple MountThe Texas A&M University School of Law Global Programs May 2018 Field Study course "Israel: Water, Energy and Dispute Resolution" explored the history, culture and legal issues related to water, energy and associated dispute resolution challenges. Students also ​experienced the basics of international and comparative law and cross-cultural communication. ​

The​ course offered a first-hand deep dive into the regulatory, political, and environmental issues at play in the region. The students gained insight into the nuances of dispute resolution in a different and challenging part of the world that could not be replicated in the classroom.

► Learn more about the Israel field study.

Check out the student blog posts about their experiences in the Middle East:


The Old City of Jerusalem

Posted by Alexis Long, J.D. '​​20

dome-of-the-rockThe Dome of the Rock is a stunning monument to the Muslim faith. We were not allowed inside, but were allowed to admire the beautiful exterior.

The small ​Middle Eastern country of Israel is bordered by Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt. Israel has a unique history as the only Jewish nation in the Middle East. Along with numerous wars over land and religion, many have been fought for resources. The most precious resource in the region is water. Although Israel is a small nation, it is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. With Israel’s technology, it was able to harness the water’s hydropower and send water from one end of the country to the other. 

To better understand how water plays a role in dispute resolution, a small group of students and faculty with Texas A&M School of Law Global Programs traveled to Israel. The nation of Israel is a perfect example of how water issues affect disputes between countries. Although we spent the majority of our time abroad meeting with individuals to better understand the role of water, we also did a fair amount of sightseeing.

May16 Temple Mount tourThe Aggie Law group touring the Old City of Jerusalem.

Traveling to Israel was my first international experience. I’ve always wanted to travel to Israel and being able to go with the law school was a dream opportunity.  As a devout Catholic, I was most excited about traveling around the Old City of Jerusalem. 

To prepare for our journey into the Old City, we made sure to drink plenty of water to combat the heat and to dress as conservatively as possible to respect the Islamic traditions. Upon arriving in the Old City, you cannot help but become entranced by the outer wall and the secrets held within. Walking up to the Temple Mount, I had mixed feelings. Persons belonging to all religions—Islam, Judaism, and Christianity—visit the Temple. Religious sites in Jerusalem are of substantial political concern and heavily guarded by military personnel. To ensure all individuals are safe on the Temple Mount, there are Israeli and Jordanian military personnel. Orthodox Jews are of particular concern. It was not until the modern era Jews were allowed onto the Temple Mount. To keep the peace, soldiers escort Orthodox Jews through the Temple Mount for their safety and the safety of others.

Station V Via DolorosaStation V on Via Dolorosa marks Jesus' encounter with Simon of Cyrene.

The city of Jerusalem is divided into four quarters: the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Armenian quarters. The east-west street through the city is Via Dolorosa. Via Dolorosa is Latin for "Way of Grief” and is believed to be the route Jesus walked to his crucifixion. Nine stations of the cross mark the path and tell the story of Jesus's journey from the Lion's Gate to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Being able to see the stations of the cross and the path Jesus walked was a humbling experience.

Regardless of your faith, you cannot help but feel the energy from the stones around you. The history is radiating from the entire city. 

At the end of Via Dolorosa is the Church of the Holy Sepulch​er. The church was built around the location of the final stages of the cross; Jesus's crucifixion and burial.

Holy SeplucherThe Church of the Holy Sepulch​er.

The Church of the Holy Sepulch​er does not look like much from the outside, but it is heavily adorned within to honor the life of Christ. It is constructed with the same materials as the rest of the city and sits in plain sight. Because of their pull of faith, people come from all over the globe to see the Church. 

At the entrance of the church is the Stone of Anointing; the believed site where Jesus's body was prepared for burial. Here, people stand and push their way to the stone just for a touch.

rock-calvaryRock of the Calvary where scientists have installed a seismograph.

On the bottom floor of the church, patrons can see into the Rock of Calvary. It is on top of this rock Jesus was crucified. Standing here, I was overwhelmed to be in the same place Christ was crucified. In the stone, there is a large crack enclosed behind a window on the altar wall. In the Christian faith, it is said that when Christ died, there was a massive earthquake. Some scholars believe the crack was a result of quarrying in the rock.  

The Western Wall, the only architectural remains of the Second Jewish Temple of Jerusalem, is located on the western ​side of the Temple Mount. Men and women are separated and not allowed to pray together. The men must wear yarmulkes and are allocated a larger portion of the wall. The women, however, have a smaller portion of the wall, which is rather crowded.

May16-Western-WallAt the Western Wall.
jerusalem-david-tourHadas, our guide, explains the history of the tunnels and the City of David.

Outside of the ​Old City is the City of David. Under the city, there are tunnels said to be built by Hezekiah of Judah. The tunnels were built in preparation for an impending siege on the city. Hezekiah had the tunnels built to divert water from the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam.

The tunnels are incredibly narrow, sometimes with low ceilings. Fortunately, due to my short stature, the height was not an issue for me. At some parts, the tunnel still contains water. At its highest point, the water came up to the top of my thighs. But for the most part, the water remained at the middle of my shin.

Being able to experience these religious sites gave me a new outlook on the complexity of the dispute situation in Jerusalem. These religious sites are significant to numerous faiths causing quarrels over control. Add to this religious dispute the disadvantage of being in a water-stressed region. 

Israel has a vastly different legal system than the United States. In Israel, water and land are owned by the government and access is seen as a fundamental human right, as opposed to in the United States where everything is privately owned. Because the State of Israel owns the country’s land and water, the State can distribute the water evenly among the people—something incredibly important in a region with limited resources.

Traveling to Israel gave me a better understanding of the complexity of the political climate overseas and renewed my passion for water law. 

Alexis LongBlogger Alexis Long, Texas A&M School of Law class of 2020, in the Old City of Jerusalem.