My Expedition in the Holy Land

I would have never particularly imagined to find myself on the coast of Israel, let alone in the West Bank. It would have maybe been a strange dream at most. After experiencing this trip, I am left with so much knowledge of a conflict and a part of the world that was formerly unknown to me. I took a chance to go to Israel, and it has been one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had.

Prior to departure, I only knew what my Jewish friends and my family members told me about Israel. I had no idea what occupation really meant, or that the territory that is currently the state of Israel was once called Palestine. I have learned the history behind the birth of Israel, a dark history that often goes ignored. I’ve learned about Israel’s transformation since 1948 as well as the experiences of Palestinians expelled from the land since then. I’ve come to realize the many different political cleavages exist inside and outside of Israel, and how it is not just Arab vs Jew. I’ve seen the occupation with my own eyes, and I now know that settlements in the West Bank are not tents but often entire cities. I have spoken with rightwing Israelis and leftwing Israelis, secular Jews and non-secular Jews, Palestinians in the West Bank and Arab-Israelis, and more. I have swum in the Mediterranean, made new friends, and met incredible Israelis and Palestinians whose will to speak up and educate has inspired me.

I am left with the urge to return and to learn more about the conflict, because even after taking a course on site, there is still so much to learn. I now find myself wanting to examine the experience of Birthright Jews who take trips to Israel, or to learn more about the settlements that are popping up all around the West Bank. I want to further understand how Israel can keep such tight security and I want to know more details on what it is like to live under occupation. This course has been a catalyst for further exploration and understanding, and I think it is safe to say that my time in Israel has shaped my future. Without a doubt I would take up this experience again if given the opportunity.

I highly recommend this course to anyone looking for a unique and enlightening adventure. This course will allow you to experience Middle Eastern culture and cuisine while understanding one of the most complex and important conflicts the modern world has ever known. The experience is so fascinating in that the conflict is visible around you as you study it. It’s not in the past, and it is arguably more dire and complicated than ever. I am confident in saying that this has been one of the greatest, if not the greatest course that I have ever taken with the most amazing professor. Get ready to realize. Get ready to come to Israel and find Palestine.

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