The View From Here - 07/20/2017
Despite my pretty impressive sandal tan, quickly disappearing stipend and journal full of new memories, it’s hard to believe that we’re already more than halfway through the program! While I’ve explored a lot with Onward, with friends and on my own, there is still so much of Jerusalem and the rest of the country that I have yet to see. Before leaving, I hope to visit the Israel Museum, try new restaurants, revisit the old city and so much more.
We’ve been busy learning about some of Israel’s more challenging issues. We heard from Efraim Zuroff, an Israeli historian and Nazi hunter working at the Simon Wisenthal Center. He told us stories of trials, justice and his personal experiences working in the field. The following week, we visited Gush Etzion — a Jewish settlement in the West Bank. Throughout the day, we listened to different perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a specific focus on the issue of the settlements. We began the day by visiting Pina Hachama (cozy corner), which is a locally run meeting and support center for Israeli soldiers. After a delicious lunch at a local winery, we went to Shorashim (roots), a grassroots organization that works to bring Palestinians and Israelis together through dialogue and face-to-face interactions. We heard from a religious Jewish settler and a Palestinian man who told their personal narratives, but also stressed the importance of recognizing that all knowledge is partial. The day opened our eyes to the tensions and complications of the settlements and left many of us with more questions than when we began the day. As a group, we decided to continue the conversation in the upcoming weeks to help us better process the information. It is great to be surrounded by people who not only love Israel and want to enjoy their time here, but who also engage in meaningful and often more challenging conversations. While I’ve learned a lot from my internship, madrichot (counselors) and tour guides, I’ve also learned so much from the other Onward participants. I look forward to making these last few weeks the best yet!
Rebecca Hersch, Brandeis University ’19, is interning this summer with the Yerushalmit Movement building Jerusalem civil society as a Boston Onward Israel 2017 participant.