My last blog post was about a week ago and for good reason. In between my time at Hebron and now, I have done a lot of mental processing. Thinking about my actions of what I want to do after this trip is also on my mind. However, what changed my thoughts from almost complete despair towards determination was my conversation with Jeff Halper who is the co-founder of ICAHD, Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions.
Before I met with Jeff, I was on the bus to Jerusalem thinking about my day with CPT and almost of the verge of crying because I was thinking about how I could leave and many Palestinians in Hebron couldn’t. I was frustrated with it all and how I couldn’t do anything to help. All I could do was leave.
Even speaking about my experience that morning feels slightly embarrassing because what do I have to be sad about, as a white American with freedom, privilege, and opportunity? However, letting my experience affect me in order to spur me on to do work using my privilege is how I am viewing it. Also, of course I would be sad, at first. I care about the people living here under systematic oppression, and that is part of what forces me to move.
The past week was a lot of introspection as well as two failed meetings; however, I am not too down about that. My main goal for coming here has been accomplished, and that is seeing and experiencing the occupation, which is essentially apartheid. I can see that now, in a way I didn’t before.
Meeting with Jeff gave me an answer towards which to struggle: the one-state solution. Although the international community and many organizations still gravitate towards a two-state solution, Israel has killed that reality with their facts on the ground.
Previously, organizations gave me no concrete answers to the broader question of what the future will look like. They all do great work, but I did not see an answer to this conflict, an end towards which to orient myself for advocacy when I left. I don’t plan on solving this conflict in the last few days I am here, but I do want to help after I leave, informing people not only of the situation but giving them something to support and strive towards. I believe the political solution Jeff has proposed, which is Palestinian-led and supported by Israelis like Jeff, is something I can begin to study and to support. The future will be hard, but this is an answer, a strategy, a struggle. I can stand by that.
Also, this week I learned that solo travel can be difficult, especially when I didn’t come here to be a tourist, and I have never tried to hide that (from average people, not the Israeli government and soldiers). Originally, I was meant to meet up with an organization in Nazareth, but it did not work out. What I did was make a friend from Germany in the hostel I booked. In the first five minutes of meeting her, I had already told her briefly about my time in Hebron, which isn’t exactly great for light conversation. However, she shared her treats from the market with me, and we had a lovely time getting to know each other. On Tuesday, she is coming to Bethlehem for the day, and I plan on offering to show her both the Church of Nativity and the wall.
Nazareth is a beautiful city with plenty of hills climb until you reach the top for a beautiful view. I am in a land full of conflict, but I am also in a land that is incredibly beautiful. Sometimes, it is nice to simply be a tourist.
As I spend more and more time here, I realize how much I do not know, how much I have to learn, and how much I would do if I had more time and resources. I realize how much I want to come back, especially through the Fulbright program (which has an English Teaching Assistant option here for the “West Bank” a.k.a Palestine!).
This trip is an introduction, and I am coming to the end of my beginning here. I have so much more to learn, and I plan to help put an end to this apartheid in my lifetime. This is where I truly begin.
If you'd like to hear about my meetings with these organizations in more depth, please sign up for the Palestine Justice Notes newsletter here! I will be sending out an emails highlighting the organizations I have been interviewing, and you can find ways to support them. I will also be including other things about Palestinian life and culture within the email as well. Please consider adding it to your email list!