This morning was yet another beautiful day to wake up in Israel. We enjoyed an early breakfast at our hostel and then headed out for a day spent exploring Tel Aviv. This city is one of the most vibrant parts of Israel with a lot European influence in its architecture. Our first stop was Independence Hall. This building is where the Zionists signed a Declaration of Independence that established a State of Israel in Palestine. This would become a national homeland for the Jews of the world. Next, we continued our walk down Rothschild Boulevard, the main street in Tel Aviv.
We stopped in the location of the largest protest in Israeli history, taking place in July of 2011 in Rothschild Boulevard. The goal of this protest was to achieve a more social democracy. Protestors demanded solutions to their hardships such as the rising costs of living in Tel Aviv as well as the ever-growing gap between the social classes. Although the demonstrations have subsided, the goals of this protest were never fully achieved. According to our guide, the gap between the social classes has continued to grow and the cost of living has increased. Despite having one of the best economies, the average price of food and housing is equal to or higher than in America with a lower average income. Israel remains an expensive place to live because their government has to spend more of its money on security than most other countries.
We took a short break from our tour to enjoy a delicious lunch at a local restaurant. These group meals are a good opportunity to escape the heat and to reflect on everything we’ve learned so far. After lunch, we continued to walk toward Yitzhak Rabin’s Memorial. Rabin was influential politician, Prime Minister and Defense Minister of Israel who was assassinated in 1995. Rabin was in the process of working on a peace agreement called the Oslo Accords when he was shot by a 25-year-old fellow Jew. The signing of the Oslo Accords had been controversial, as it meant that Israel would withdraw from some of its acquired lands in an effort towards peace with the Palestinians. Rabin’s assassination was devastating to the Jewish population as it compromised Israels national unity and caused a halt in the peace process. Our group had the opportunity to visit the site of Rabin’s assassination which took place at a rally in The Kings of Israel Square, it is now referred to as Rabin Square.
The opportunity to learn more about this conflict and about the beautiful city of Tel Aviv is one that I feel very privileged and thankful to have. By learning about these historic sites in person we are all growing closer to understanding the conflict that has divided Israel and Palestine for decades.