This was my first trip to Israel and the West Bank – well, in fact to the Middle East if I do not count my two-day trip in the late ’90s to Jordan! I had never imagined that I would enjoy the trip so much or that I would love the places I visited as much as I did, although I tore my hair with frustration with every sight and sound of the conflict that splits the people of this land.
Jerusalem and Bethlehem – so much history in one place! It was overwhelming to find myself standing in such historically significant places – what a privilege! Ally and Lukas were keen as one-week-old- hosts (although they have both been to the region before) to shown every place in these two cities that were important to anyone visiting.
We also went to Ramallah and Hebron. We planned to meet a colleague in an international NGO in Ramallah but Hebron happened simply by chance. We ran into a staff member of a Palestinian local organization and accepted his invitation to travel to Hebron.
Traveling to Palestinian controlled areas of Bethlehem, Ramallah and Hebron was such an experience. We saw with our own eyes every little indication of the conflict (and this included water conflicts), the incredible amount of violence that at this time definitely seemed one sided and against the Palestinians and we witnessed and experienced the indignities of passing through check points every time we returned to Jerusalem from the Palestinian controlled areas. And of course the separation wall was central to our separate experiences of Israel and Palestine.
So beautiful a region, such warm people… yet so harsh, so violent and so ghettoized. I kept wondering – why? Why is the human race so stupid? Why is the human race so cruel? Why is the human race so violent? Why is the human race so unforgiving? Why is the human race so determined to commit the same crimes of the past?
The last question hit me in the head, as a hammer would hit a nail when I toured the holocaust museum – Yad Vashem – Israel’s Memorial for the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Why when the past shows how cruel, wrong, and despicable humans have been, are some of us so determined to continue the tradition today?
I have so many thoughts. So many feelings. I have emotions to sort through. I have so much more to write….but not I until I process my thoughts more.