Our day started with a trip to a cafe off of the highway from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem that is a popular spot for Israeli settlers. After being served a delicious breakfast, we participated in a discussion with Israeli settlers who gave us a view of the conflict that we had not heard yet. The Jewish owner of the shop described his views that all Muslims are inherently violent people and his belief that although he is peaceful with his Muslim neighbors, he is prepared to kill them when judgement day comes in 5-7 years. Although this part of his attitude was pretty extreme, most of his views reflected the attitudes of many Israeli people, including the belief that Israel has remained a peaceful beacon in the Middle East as many Muslim dominated countries have fallen into war. His solution to the problem was for Arabs to stop hating Israelis because he believed they could live in one state if Arab hatred of Israelis ended.
Following breakfast, we traveled to the Supreme Court where we discussed the ins-and-outs of the Israeli judicial system. Through a guided tour, we learned about the different types of courts, which cases are sent where, and some of the procedures of the highest court while sitting in a court room. The tour also featured the elaborate architecture of the building and a beautiful library. We were able to learn how the judicial system interacts with the legislative branch when dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by looking at a case regarding the separation wall, or “security fence” as our tour guide put it, between Israel and the West Bank.
We then traveled to a Bedouin village outside of Jerusalem to eat and meet with the Bedouin tribal people. The experience was amazing as we enjoyed delicious food while learning about the problems they have faced while Israeli settler populations encroach on their land. We learned how the government oppresses them in their daily lives by demolishing their buildings and preventing the education of their children, through tours of their village and their school that is made out of tires and mud. The experience was like none other as we sat with a people in the middle of the desert who were different from everyone else we had met.
Today was important in that we saw viewpoints about the conflict from two new groups, right-wing Jewish Israelis and Bedouin people who face cultural destruction as a result of encroachment by Israeli settlers. All of the experiences tie into our question of the cleavages in both Israeli and Palestinian society that affect the conflict.