Thursday, December 17, 2009

Seeing what most dont want to. The West Bank through my Eyes. -

When first visiting the West Bank, we brought along our friend Avi. This is an article written by him, explaining his perception after witnessing the conflict with his own two eyes. I think our readers will find it quite interesting.


I have been really fortunate to have such great, open minded, friends who have a strong interest in the political and conflict ridden region we call the Middle East. I too share a great interest in the situation here in Israel. Just a little back round; I grew up in an orthodox Jewish family and in my teen years was exposed to extreme Zionism mostly from my family. Two of my brothers made Aliyah (the act of becoming a citizen of Israel) and served in the Israel Defense Force, which affected my views even greater. Due to issues regarding the development of myself and strong Zionistic views I too made Aliyah to the Golan Heights in July 2008 and am drafting to the military in March. My political views though, I would describe as moderate and have spent hour and hours in debate with Josh and Michael regarding the humanitarian situation in Palestine.

So when Josh and Michael told me they were coming to my region to see the situation for themselves I was overjoyed. It was an opportunity to not only show them around the country that means so much to me, but also see the territories that are so highly debated such as BethLehem, Ramallah, refugee camps along the way and the much talked about security wall. For me the security risk was much greater, surprisingly on the Israeli side of things. Due to the fact that I hold Israeli citizen ship my entering the West Bank warrants my immediate arrest by the IDF, as well as the Palestinians don’t look to kindly on people who support what Israel is doing. It was an opportunity that I could not pass up. To find out what really goes on in the so much read about places and to get a view of what the “other side” thinks could not be missed.

Getting of the bus right outside the Security wall and check point I was rushed with emotion. I still couldn’t pinpoint exactly what I felt then. It wasn’t fear. I was not afraid for my life. But I think I felt that this is it. This was my opportunity to see whether the past two years of my life and my impending military draft is supporting something that is worth my time and energy. Have I been supporting something that is evil and cruel? I have always prided myself that I have not been influenced by the radical views that surround me here in the Golan and in a way I thought my views might be shifted to that direction. I purely didn’t know how the next four hour were going to affect my life. The Jewish women on the bus muttering prayers and screaming “God watch over You”! weren’t very comforting and I was anxious to see what’s really going on.

Crossing under the wall I remember thinking one thing right away. All my discussions regarding the wall always came down to the security it provides For Israel. Most attacks carried out inside Israel were stopped in direct cause of the wall and that was enough for me.
But seeing the wall I couldn’t help thinking that this is not just a security fence. This is a massive, daughnting wall. Its huge! I was shocked how the main street of Bethlehem with shops cafĂ©’s, and stores just like in tel aviv is cut to an abrupt dead end by this barrier. I couldn’t help thinking why Israel had to put it here and not a mere 2 kilometers further bank to not interfere with the demographic structure of the city. Walking through the streets of Bethlehem into the empty streets of the Aida refugee camp I was just amazed and the despondency of the village and how unfortunate of a situation this was. I wasn’t putting blame I wasn’t pointing fingers. It was just unfortunate that this is happening in our world. That people are living in such comfort while other are living in the direct opposite. Speaking with the people who’s hospitality crossed borders, I understood that most of the people just want peace. They want to live in a normal city with normal villages side by side with Israelis. Yes there is a strong extremist sect that are looked upon with honor but that’s the only hope that they have to grab on too. The only thing that is being done to maybe stop the life that was taken away from them. During my visit I called my girlfriend and described to her what I was seeing. Her response was, “sometimes its better not to see the other side of things”. I couldn’t help thinink of how abusrd this was. I felt that if eveyr Israeli could see exactly what I was seeing their would be great progress in negotiations.

Crossing back into Israel my views are still moderate. But I understand what fuels the violence and I understand the majority of people who just want peace. I couldn’t help thinking that if I had grown up in Bethlehem I would have the same motivation to join the Al Aqsa martyrs brigade that I do that makes me join the Israeli army, I wish Israelis could understand that these are real people who just want to live peacefully in the land of their fathers. How their lives have been severely impacted by the conflict just like them. If this was widespread knowledge I can’t help thinking that, what so many people want, pure peace, couldn’t come in our days.


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  2. ty for sharing your story. i hope we can get more info from isrealis living in isreal.

    i hope the trip helps form you in the best of manners and conscience.