Israel - Day 10

I woke up to many more flights cancelled and everyone scrambling to find hotels and trying to rebook flights.  Tantur offered us our rooms for tonight.  It was very kind.  We are going to take a cab to Tel Aviv when this part of the program is over and figure it out from there.

Our first meeting was a political presentation by Varsen and Jamil.  They both work for the Negotiation Affairs Department.  They stated, "Things are not going to be solved in the battle field, only around the table."
They do the same calculations as Israeli's do about their death toll.  "It would be this many percentage wise if it was in the States."  It is hard to hear this when Israeli soldiers are dying at the same time.  It is hard to hear that Palestinians are dying.  As the first speaker said, this is not going to be solved on the battlefield.

Core issues.
Basic requirements.
End of occupation on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.  They want it to be connected, with a way out to Jordan and Egypt.  East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.
A just and agreed upon solution to the refugee issue in accordance with UNGA 194.

The Problem is Israeli's Settlement Enterprise.  The wall and its regime, the by-pass roads and movement restrictions create a hardship and a life and a people that is challenged.  They believe that the settlements are illegal under international law.  They have felt that it is demoralizing to negotiate when settlements are being built.  Since July 2013 over 15,000 settlement units have been announced.  East Jerusalem was occupied in 1967 and they believe illegally annexed by Israel in the 1980's, in effect cutting off EJ from the West Bank.

They acknowledge the State of Israel since 1988, and they want a Palestinian State.  They monitor Palestinian public opinion monthly.  In general Palestinian public opinion has supported Palestinian Authority and Abbas, until this past month.  Now there is support for Hamas.  They were trying to show that the Palestinian public opinion is for peace.

They feel that Abbas tried to negotiate from a place of peace.  And when he does that they do not get a positive response from Israel.  When there is violence from the Palestinians they feel that they get a positive response.

We then took a break and everyone was checking in with airlines and where to go next.  I checked in with 2 of our RSNS kids who are in Israel.  Both are good!  One in Jerusalem and one in Masada right now.  I also spoke with Isaac at Camp JRF

We met with a woman originally from al-Walaje village outside of Bethlehem.  Her feeling is that we should care about her story and her village IF we care about Israel.  She doesn't care about Israel, we should.  Her village has been non-violent since 1948.

They had a railway through their village and that became the border.  They did not realize when this happened, because they did not believe it would last, that the Israeli occupation would remain.  They gave 3 ID's at that time and they were all equally oppressed.  Jerusalem ID, Blue.  West Bank ID, Orange.  Gaza ID, Red.  She lives in Jerusalem with a Blue ID because her mother was living with her parents trying to make a living when the ID's were given out.  

They have been very peaceful and she feels that that has been a mistake.  Violence works.  No violence for them resulted in the Wall, settlements and bypass roads.  It is guarded by an 18 year old girl or boy and each person in the village is subjected to the whim of that soldier.  They never know if the gate is open or not.  This has a huge impact on the village.  The whole working force will move out.  

She kept on saying how shocked she was that we are not visiting her village which is so peaceful (which she is not happy about).  She feels that no one is holding Israel accountable for their actions.  2 ways to force the hand of Israel.  1.  Violence! (She does not believe that the iron dome actually works.)  She is very angry that the States are helping to support Israel.  She feels by supporting Israel, America is a partner and can not be a mediator.   2.  Non violence, civil disobedience, stop using the shekel.  She does not think that the Palestinians have the social capital to achieve this goal.

For now, Israel has no reason to change.  She does not want violence, but if she is put in a situation that it is her life, or someone else's, she would choose her own life.  If the creation of Israel was not so bloody and horrible it would have been something to celebrate.  Israelis have a lot to lose, Palestinians do not.

She wants Israelis to feel the oppression.  She wants them to feel the 4 hour wait at a check point, the hours of waiting at the airport, and the inability to get to Tel Aviv and Haifi.  She does not think Israel is going to win.  The Palestinians won't either.  Syria and Iraq are going to polish off Israel.  As soon as Jordan collapses, the violence will be here in Israel.  She used to be a non-violent activist.  After this past year, not anymore.  Non-violent became giving up in Palestine.  She believes there should be one state with social justice for everyone.  Palestine is a cause not a geography.  The minute this is solved, she feels that she will be in Africa solving other problems.

This presentation was full of raw anger.  To sit and listen was very challenging.

Quick lunch, got our stuff together and back for our last speaker, the general director of Ma'an Network, the largest independent TV, radio and online media group in the West Bank and Gaza.  

Building up a community through social media.  The focus he has is on building public awareness regarding social, political and economic issues, including gender equality, human rights and good governance.  He does reality TV to work through the issues that the population is going through.

Palestinian's are not familiar with Israeli news.
(I had to walk out of the program to deal with flights.)
I walked in to him dealing with how media is used as propaganda.  Israeli media does not care what is happening in Palestine.  Except about what is happening in regard to security.  
He feels that if this war continues, everyone will be involved.  As a victim or as a killer, and that is far worse.  He feels annoyed that we are not in Bethlehem.

Small group reflection-insight and struggle, and what do we see more clearly?

What do we take from a narrative that contradicts our own truth.

After small group and large group discussions Josh, Jason, Elliott, Jonathan, Lee and myself took a cab (really a mini bus) back to the hotel we stayed in, in Tel Aviv.  At this point my rebooked flight was still on.  I was planning on going out with the guys and then meeting Fredi at her daughter, Emily's house and go straight to the airport.  

That flight got cancelled and Peter got me on a Delta Flight to be home on Saturday.  I am booked at our hotel for the next 2 nights and I hope that all will go well.  Lee is leaving with 2 of our colleagues to go to Prague tomorrow and then to drive to Vienna to get a flight to NY.

So, I have not had time to really process the "Encounter" portion of my trip, I am and was too preoccupied with the travel situation.  That will come in the next 2 days, I am sure of it.

We went out to a trendy restaurant Messa and now I am back at the hotel.  Pretty spent, and thankful once again that I feel safe and that I have a wonderful husband who has been dealing with all of these logistics regarding flights.

Tomorrow will be yet another day.  A day of reflection and I am sure a day of constant changes.  Patience and going with the flow, 2 things I try and work on, now I have time to practice working :).  All my love and thank you all for your support.