Israel/Palestine 05.08.2007 - 18.08.2007
The goal of this trip is to learn about the everyday life of Israelis and Palestinians.
Since daily life in the region is often directly linked with the conflict, we will try to learn about the different sides of the dispute by on-site dialogues. This should allow us to get a differentiated view on the conflict in the Middle East.
We aim to create a personal dialogue with young people from both sides of the borders and hope understand their everyday pleasures, problems, fears and hopes, away from world politics.
In discussions within the group, we will be reflecting on the experiences which were made. The participants will be profiting from other opinions and impressions within the group. Furthermore the discussions will help the participants internalize the various impressions.
From August 5 through August 18, IFIL.ch organized an intercultural trip to Israel – Palestine. The first week we stayed in Jerusalem, where we met with public figures and visited historic sites of the city. We spent the weekend in a Bedouin village near Nazareth in northern Israel, which was also the starting point for short trips to Haifa and Nazareth as well as Tiberias and the Golan Heights. On our return to Jerusalem we made a detour to the Dead Sea. In the second week, we got to know the Westbank and spent a day each in Ramallah, Bethlehem and Hebron. This was an excellent possibility to enjoy the Palestinian hospitality. At the end of our trip, we spent to days in Tel Aviv before returning home.
The main aspect of this trip were the meetings with Israeli and Palestinian representatives. We wanted to find out more about the various facets of the tensions between the two peoples. We met with experts from the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs who fight for the interests of the Jewish state. We also had discussions with Shaman Khuri who himself took part in many peace negotiations throughout the past decades and is considered the driving force behind the Geneva Accord.
Several visits to the Swiss Embassy in the Palestinian area and the Embassy in Israel gave us a deep insight of the work of Swiss Diplomats in the Middle East. Mr Semadeni let us see behind the curtain of his affairs in Ramallah, as did Mr Motjl in Tel Aviv. Furthermore we spoke about their opinion about the current situation in Israel and Palestine and asked them about their expectations for the ongoing peace process.
Contacts with Palestinian and Israeli NGO’s allowed us to gain deeper insights into the matter. In Jerusalem, we met with the organization “Rabbis for Human Rights” who, in accordance with biblical values, demand that both parties involved in the conflict comply with Human Rights. In Bethlehem we met the director of Holylandthrust who campaigns for a resistance without violence against the occupation of the Palestinian territory. In Ramallah a representative of the organization Al Haq explained us their vision of a two state solution on the basis of international law.
In talks we had the chance to get to know more about the consequences of the conflict for individuals, who told us about their painful experiences. We were taken aback by the story of a young Israeli woman who almost died because of a suicide attack. We felt the pain of a Palestinian family, whose house was destroyed twice by the Israeli Army and who was going to get a third “house demolition order” the following day.
As a spark of hope, we will remember a meeting with an Israeli and a Palestinian member of the organization “Parents Circle”. That group consists of people who have lost children on account of violence committed by the other party. They see the pain that they share as a base for the possibility to get to know and understand each other.
Experiencing this mixture of pain, anger, unforgiving, but also of hope, the will to become reconciled and the wish to live in peace added a personal note to our understanding of the conflict. Countless facts, the interpretation of history and making an assessment of the current situation delivered us a deep insight into the complex situation in the Middle East.
Even though we got a lot of answers during our two-week trip, countless new questions were thrown up. In my opinion, shows that our trip can be considered a success because it allowed us to gain a more insightful view about the events in the Middle East.