Walling off Misconceptions

“I came to Israel and found Palestine” was a beautiful remark made by one of my classmates, Tanner, prior to departure from Israel. It is this remark I feel encapsulates many of our takeaways from our twelve-day journey to this controversial land, including my own. However, in contrast to Tanner, I feel as if I found Israel during my brief stay. For years I have always known and kept Palestine close to my heart and found it difficult uttering the words “Israel” out of my mouth when telling people where I would be traveling. It felt as if by recognizing the state I was contributing to the continued neglect of the Palestinian narrative and people. To be honest, a held a lot of resentment and even hatred towards the Israeli state and all it encompassed including the history, language, and even people. I saw it not only at the expense of the Palestinians but also a continuation of things stolen from them; land, food, traditions, and even language as a significant amount of Arabic has been incorporated in modern day Hebrew. I lumped all aspects of Israel together and I had little to no desire to tell them apart. All that mattered to me was the shared responsibility of oppressing the Palestinian people within their borders.

Despite my set views I was compelled to come on the trip. I carried some guilt with me in traveling to a state in which a majority of my friends would never be able to visit, many Palestinian in origin. However, I felt a need to go. I need to see the land that I dedicated years following on social media, discussing with my friends, and studying in school. I yearned for the pages, videos, and discussions to come to life — I had to see it for myself.

I saw it.

I saw glimpses of the ugliness of occupation: the harassment of Palestinians by IDF soldiers, the beautiful settlements across the street from neglected villages, the cement separation wall and the look of defeat and sadness in Palestinian eyes.

What I didn’t expect to see was hope.

I found hope hidden in what I soon knew as the cleavages of Israeli society. I found hope in educating myself that like any population, no Israeli is the same. I found hope in afternoon talks with activists working to end the occupation who described acts of the Israeli government as “inherently un-Jewish” and against what it meant for them to be an Israeli.

I found hope in understanding.

I understood the fears of the population, the history of struggle similar to that of the Palestinians, and the attachment to the homeland we now know as the state of Israel. It became clear that what has always been Palestinian has become very much Israeli as well. Over the twelve days it became much harder to compartmentalize between the two.

I find comfort in this new state of confusion. No conflict is black and white, nor should it be. We must to get lost in the grey before we can find the light.

 

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