On Wednesday, the 23rd, we left Tiberias for a visit to Akka and Haifa and then to the Druz village to the location of our hostel. I was looking forward to this day because I had planned to meet with another family member, a cousin of some sort who was my age and I had never met before. We started out by driving to Akka, where we walked around the open markets, I bought some music cds; talked about the sea side city, and ate a famous Hummus place that was extremely busy-who knew there could be so many variations of hummus and that it could be as lucrative as now present. We left Akka in the early afternoon and headed for Haifa and the entire time I was anxious to meet up with my cousin and her friends, who I told I’d be free by 3pm. Sure enough things don’t go according to plan and I couldn’t find an exit strategy from the group as we had more things planned than I expected even though our leader said I should be fine to leave with my family by 3pm. Regardless, we ended up visiting the Bahai Gardens, which were beautiful and then we had a scheduled dialogue at a religious secondary school with right-winged students (around 18 years old). The focus of the discussion by the students was on the love of the land and the love of the Jewish people. Much of the quoted dialogue is below as follows:
“It’s my land because they [the Arabs] have 22 countries and we only have one.”
“We’re not against the Arabs, against our enemies because I’m Israeli and I don’t want to blow up.”
“I want them to think logically and lie in peace together, but if they teach their children hatred, there is no chance for peace.”
“They [the Arabs] don’t want peace, they just want to push us to the sea.”
“Secular Jews are part of our nation, I respect this.”
Question to the students: “What are your views of the settlers?”
Answer to us: “I think they are real Zionists because they built our land. They are Zionists of these days.”
When the students were asked how they’d feel about having an open dialogue with Palestinian students their age; their reply was that it would be “useless”, mainly because of their election to Hamas. This doesn’t make much sense because they are basically implying that all Palestinian students their age have a say and responsibility in the politics of the Palestinian people and that every Palestinian civilian has support for the Hamas political party as a whole. Essentially over-generalizing the political situation, and just because various events happen by radicals, from either side, it doesn’t mean that the majority of civilians support what had happened.
The students went on to reference the Jewish treatment in teh Holocaust as comparable to the Germans who just wanted to make them extinct; they continued to remind us that six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, 1/3 or the entire world Jewish population.
They state stated at one point: “You can’t compare the morales of the Israeli government to the Palestinians. The Israeli government has a higher morales.” In my head I was thinking “you weren’t with us at the Knesset listening to Dudu.”
The over all situation seems push and pull; the Israeli Jews don’t want to take any risks in promoting peace, in fear and assumption that the Arabs will not be satisfied with their efforts for peace and once they give them leniency they will take advantage and thirst for more. There also seems to be a lot of pride involved in the situation.
A simple and general example of the push and pull situation is if a Palestinian villager takes out the electricity station from a Jewish settlement, the Jews don’t give the Palestinian village any electricity, so the Palestinian village continues to take out the Jewish settlement electricity station. This of course is a very basic example and actual actions under the “push and pull” tug of war analogy are far more complex and dynamic than herein described.
Question: “What do you think about the equality of the Arab-Israeli and Bedouins in Israel?”
Answer: “They are equal?” (Which was an answer contrary to what we learned at BGU from professors, Arab-Israelis that we met and Bedouins)
Question: “Do you feel that Israel should stand at the expense of the refugee’s lives as human beings?”
Answer: “Yes, because if they come back they will overpopulate the Jews.”
The students stated that if the Arabs are loyal to Israel being a Jewish state, then they will accept them as citizens of Israel.
After, the meeting, which was a bit frustrating but nonetheless insightful, we went to a restaurant called Broadway Bagel. The students we dialogued with were invited to come eat with us, and many of them decided to come. I didn’t get to talk to them much at the dinner because my cousin and her five friends ended up meeting us at the restaurant as well. We greeted each other at the retaurant entrance as if I had known them and see them every day. We sat outside, conversed, joked, and various people from my group joined us, including Yossi. After dinner, I had the option of staying with my cousin and her friends and getting to meet more of the family at their homes but I was talked into staying with the group so that I don’t miss out on the next days activities. So, I made plans with my cousin to meet up in Tel-Aviv; although come tomorrow I would regret not staying with her in Haifa as I already had second thoughts as the bus started to leave and another group member chose to stay in Haifa and go to his family.
Anyways, we drove to the Druze village, about an hour out of Haifa, and settled in to our new hostel in Ba’eia. That night I got into a minor argument with Sau about the use of the dialogue and that day’s discussion with the right-winged students. I pointed out that although we can’t effectively do anything with the information to change and heal the conflict, we gained “factual opinions”, in that we heard people’s actual thoughts instead of speculating them, and that we can use those to teach others of those “factual opinions” but the question of what will that solve was raised and contemplated.