Monthly Archives: May 2010

Getting close to the end

With just under a month left to go, my time in Israel seems very precious. I’m not sure when I will be back but I hope it will be soon. What is it about this land, that makes us yearn to be here, fight over this valuable land, die for this land?

Last week I visited the tombs of the patriarchs and matriarchs in Hevron, a mostly-Arab town. It surprised me how easy it was to get there. We went to the regular Jerusalem bus station and took a bus for an hour and arrived right in front of these tombs. The minute we got there, we heard the afternoon Arab call to prayer. It was ironic, or perhaps a little sad, that this holy Jewish site is now surrounding by those that do not value it. When you walk inside, you are immediately struck by the intricate designs of these caves. Beautiful patterns decorate the wall, but if you look closely, you see that the walls are covered in Arabic writing (which I could not read – new goal in life: learn to read Arabic), which shows us the transfer of power throughout history: a once Jewish site was once controlled by Arabs and is now back in the hands of Jews.

It’s striking that by traveling only an hour away you enter a completely different world: Arab children playing with goats and chickens, broken down homes with rooster pens, and, sadly, the appearance as if this town is in a third world country. Why can I travel such a short distance and suddenly appear in an opposite world? I wish I could understand the reasons for these differences – is there someone we are to blame? Is it the Israelis? or is it the lack of self-determination and the Arabs refusal to become independent? Is there a way out of this situation? I know attempting to make a town like this more developed by simply providing them with higher technology tools might not solve anything, but is there something we can do?

It seems to be that the Arabs feel, and are, stuck: they have lived in these conditions for so long, it’s hard to imagine anything else. But that is precisely the problem. The Jews in the early creation of Israel refused to live in these conditions and so they began to develop the country. Why has this technique failed in Arab villages? Has this technique ever been attempted?

And finally, what does the future predict for these Arab villages? Can we expect any sort of change?