Hello Fellow Readers,
Before reading: Know that this post touches on some hard issues, and there are a couple challenging and dark stories to read. It will be hard to understand if you don’t have any background on the topic, so if anything doesn’t make sense, I am just a message away.
This blog post comes in at quite a challenging time in my Israel exploration. If you didn’t know, last Tuesday we had elections here, and this weekend I spent my time with Nachshon at Alon Shvut, a “settlement” in the “the West Bank”. To be honest, and I can say the other people living there can agree, it is a village in Judea. This whole weekend was focused on not only the politics of the middle east, but also the conflict from both sides, and getting over the barrier that people picture when they think of the West Bank.
Let’s talk about this first. Yes, Judea and Samaria are now commonly called the West Bank, and yes, you can go there safely with no problems. Alon Shvut is only 20 minutes away from my apartment, yet it is a different world. BUT, it is NOT just Palestinians and Israeli soldiers. There are Jews living all over the west bank, and by no means do all of these places feel like a 3rd world country.
The village was beautiful, the homes were absolutely amazing, and the atmosphere was warm and welcoming. While we were here, we had a chance to stay with locals, and they were as nice as can be. They were all very educated. Not just a Master’s degree, but I’m talking a Doctorate or PHD. Most were doctors and lawyers that commuted to Jerusalem for work. During the time in Alon Shvut we had a chance to meet a lot of amazing people, including a 25-year-old Palestinian woman who talked to us about what she went through with the Israeli soldiers. On the ride back to Jerusalem, I had a chance to get the other perspective (Being and Israeli Soldier and serving in the west bank) as well.
It was very interesting (and challenging) to hear about the woman’s experiences she had to overcome. She talked about times where she had to get the family out of her house at 3am for security checks, and how the Israeli soldiers would treat her family and home very poorly. Then she talked about her uncle passing away from a conflict with an Israeli soldier, and having her brother beaten for hanging a picture of the uncle outside of his home. Hearing a Palestinian speak about how the soldiers made life so difficult for her just cringed inside for me. But after all of this, she still has faith for peace, and understands that the acts of a few soldiers does not represent the country.
On the other side, the former soldier talked to me about how the mistreatment of Palestinians (physical force and violence without first being attacked or probable cause) was punishable by a significant amount of time in prison. They did have orders to search the houses for suspected terrorists, but the physical mistreatment was not an order by the army, and that some Israeli soldiers are acting upon anger (which again is punishable). He talked about not forgetting that the soldiers also provided meals for the hungry, and something like that never makes the news. All that is ever shown is the violence, and many times it is inaccurate.
It is clear people have done many wrongs on both sides, and you need to get over the idea that every Arab is a terrorist, which is absolutely not the case. There are always extremists that carry out the bombings in Israel, but the majority of the population are bystanders stuck in the middle of the tensions. So how can we guarantee the security of Israel while making sure not to tear apart the lives of many civilians? That really is the question, and a 1000-word blog post doesn’t even touch the surface. I haven’t even talked about the impacts and difficulties of the people living in the settlements. I have always supported a two state solution, and still do, but now I have to think about what would happen to the Jewish neighborhoods that are in the West Bank.
If the Palestinians did agree on dividing the land, what would happen to all of the Jews living there? And even if we created an agreement with the Palestinians, what stops the terrorists such as Hamas Isis and Hezbollah from continuing to carry out bombings? The conflict here is like old house piping. You may be able to stop one leak, but another will just pop up, and sooner or later if you do one wrong move, the whole pipe could burst. The situation with Israel is very delicate, and has more layers of conflict than I could have ever imagined.
This has been quite a rollercoaster of a weekend. I wish I could have talked about some of the other amazing things that happened, but I would need double the length of the post, and I am just happy that you are reading this far. This topic needs more detail than I could put in now, but if you have questions, are frustrated by what I wrote, or have comments, don’t hesitate to chat with me. I hope you enjoyed the post, and until next time,
P.S. to end on a happy note, I also got to make homemade teriyaki for my friends, see some amazing views, zip-line across a valley, and see some Jazz.