Of Israel and Palestine

I’ve never really been much good at explaining why I did something, or inclined to talk about what I got out of doing it, but I suppose this trip is worthy of an exception to those tendencies.

My reasons for going on this trip were eclectic, to say the least, but for the most part I saw the trip as a way to earn an extra credit while travelling somewhere I had never been, studying a relevant real-world issue under a professor I think highly of, and getting to spend the better part of two weeks arguing about large scale morality, justice, and pragmatism (this is my idea of a good time, maybe I’m a touch eccentric).

I will be the first to admit that I am a fiercely opinionated individual, and that my beliefs almost certainly tint much of what I see in the world, but I try my best to absorb new information and allow it to shape my opinions rather than have my perception prejudiced by my beliefs. I will also confess that, having previously studied the conflict inside and outside the classroom, I came into the trip with the confidence (alternatively arrogance) that I already understood the basics of what we were studying, and the mindset that I was there to talk to the people who actually lived this struggle, hear their insights, and witness personally the circumstances under which the people of Israel and Palestine lived. In these regards I was not disappointed in the slightest.

During our time in Israel and Palestine we did not speak simply to Israelis and Palestinians; We spoke to soldiers and activists, to settlers and the Bedouin. We spoke to students and the elderly. We spoke to rabbis and to politicians. In our two weeks we learned about the intricacies of both the Israeli people and the Palestinians, two peoples themselves divided and fragmented by the questions of security, peace, and justice.

Our trip was more than just conversation, though. To understand Israel and Palestine, conjoined twins that they are, one must sit through lengthy checkpoints, witness the sprawling suburban settlements complete with comfortable apartments and swimming pools while two miles away sits a village where people scarcely have enough water to drink, and one must witness the scorched ruins of a bomb blast (or sit through a bomb disposal operation. Not to worry, they’re usually false alarms.)

It is in these experiences and conversations that one can begin to understand Israel and Palestine.

I can honestly say that I wholeheartedly recommend this trip to anyone who is interested in learning about one of the world’s more relevant and tragically ongoing conflicts, or in the intricacies of nationalist politics in a practical setting. This trip is not for those with experience with Israel and Palestine nor for beginners. This trip is for anyone who is interested and who is willing to have their preconceived notions tested by reality.

P.S. there are fun markets and beaches and good food too.

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2 Responses to Of Israel and Palestine

  1. rolesker says:

    Great food? you barely ate!

  2. Matthew Luth says:

    I said good, not great, and what I did eat was very good. Other meals not so much, but overall good.

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