From Jakarta to Tel Aviv

Aryo Brahmantyo, an Irwin Cotler Fellow from Indonesia for 2022-2023, has a dream: to advance the relations between the largest Muslim country in the world and Israel.

Originally from Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city and the capital of the East Java province, Aryo studied international relations at university and wanted to pursue his master’s in Israel because of his keen interest in the Middle East and military and security affairs. An avid traveler who loves to document his adventures, he arrived in Israel in October 2022 with his video camera in hand.

While in Israel, Aryo travels the country a lot, documenting his experience as a Muslim Indonesian in the State of the Jews and providing a unique lens for Indonesians to gain insights into what life in Israel is like. From frequently visiting the beach in Tel Aviv to wandering through Shuk HaCarmel, visiting used bookstores, and eating a schnitzel, Aryo enjoys experiencing the life and atmosphere of the city. While there are differences between Surabaya and Tel Aviv, the similarities between the two - such as their diverse populations and many museums - make him feel at home.

Israel and Indonesia do not have formal diplomatic relations, although the two countries maintain quiet trade and tourism relations. But, as one of the few Indonesian citizens studying in Israel, Aryo hopes his videos will promote peace through mutual understanding between both nations and dispel some of the common misconceptions about Israel in Indonesia. Moreover, he hopes to encourage dialogue and facilitate cooperation between the countries when he returns home after completing his degree.

As a Muslim, one of Aryo’s lifelong dreams was to visit the old city of Jerusalem and see the al-Aqsa Mosque with his own eyes. He just did. Fulfilling this dream was not only important to him, but to his family as well, as Aryo’s father asked him to represent the family on his visit and pray at the holy site.