Each participant was asked to submit something reflecting their experiences and feelings from the trip. It could be a poem, short story, picture with a caption, drawing or painting, op-ed, diary entry, song or any other format.
Blurry. I wish it wasn’t, but on the other hand it is more realistic that way. That is sometimes how I feel about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is so complex, every changing, growing, hurting, that it becomes blurry, and gives me a headache just thinking about it.
But if I were to actually want to have that symbol of white dove come true, I have to not deny the process to get there. That is where the armored Humvee comes in. Sturdy, strong, but still venerable, especially the humans inside.
Over the Perspectives Trip, I was very moved by listening to individual stories and experiences living in Israel. Just hearing and trying to understand the truth of where they are coming from, filled me with both the fantasy of the dove, and the current reality of the armored vehicle.
After the vehicle drove pass us, and noticed us, a young handsome man opened the door, smiled and said shalom. That one-on-one interaction, even for just a moment, brought it down to real life again, human to human, and for the time being, that all I could have asked for.
Perspectives Israel Reflection
Ilana Sidorsky, Kesher Hadash
On Perspectives Israel this past May, I had the distinct opportunity to see, hear, and experience many Jewish voices in Israel – voices that have been formed, changed, and affected by the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Some of these voices I had heard before; others were very new to me. Some of the opinions resonated with me; others made me feel unsettled.
More important than hearing any one perspective was hearing all of the perspectives in relation to one another. Often, as Jews we emphasize how difficult it is to speak with Palestinians regarding the conflict. But as I reflect on my two-day experience on Perspectives Israel, I wondered if the speakers I heard, all with varied opinions, would be able to speak and listen to one another. I realized that a challenge we, as Jews, must face is hearing our fellow Jewish perspectives – voices that may be very different than our own.
On the group bus, many of my fellow Perspectives participants were discussing the challenges and joys of pursuing Daf Yomi, daily study of Talmud. This discussion about Talmudic study pushed me to realize the Jewish commitment to the study of multiple perspectives. The Talmud includes varying opinions and puts them in conversation with one another. Our study of Jewish texts should guide our study of Israel and the multitude of voices she represents.
As I pursue my career in Jewish Education, I take my experience from Perspectives Israel with me. It is our Jewish responsibility to approach Israel Education with the same attitude we do as with Jewish Education. By hearing multiple perspectives, we gain a deeper and more nuanced understanding of Israel.
A Third Narrative
by Rachel Gutmann
Soft sand supports my back.
Bright green leaves tickle my face.
I smell ripening tomatoes.
I see little yellow flowers.
I feel the towering strength of endless emerald towers.
The perfect resting spot after a long journey.
Journey? What was it? How did I get here?
I stop and think.
I smell the smoke in the air.
I see images in my mind – scenes whizzing by.
I feel flakes of gray ash fluttering down onto my face.
* * *
The journey was long, it felt endless.
But the journey was fast, I was flying.
How did it start? With the strike of a match.
No. With fear. With history.
With some feeling, somewhere, long ago.
I don’t recall anymore who, why, where, or when.
I just know that someone needed me.
Or said they did.
And when they called, there I was.
Up I flew, over houses, yards, people.
I saw heads covered by hands.
Lying low to the ground.
Hopeful eyes looking up.
I saw a woman hanging laundry.
A boy, chasing his ball.
A man on his way to work.
I flew higher. I saw a line below me.
A Fence? A Wall? Both.
All the land below blended together.
One smooth piece of earth,
Except for the wrinkle of that fence.
Another dark spot in the sky.
My brother, flying toward me,
From the opposite direction.
We looked almost identical.
Except a harsh look on his face
Met my eyes.
We fell apart.
Down I fell.
Over houses, yards, people.
A woman gathering laundry.
A boy riding his bike.
A man heading out to his farm.
Then rushing, racing inside.
Heads low to the ground.
Terrified eyes looking up.
And then it was dark.
* * *
The fluttering ash disappears.
The smoke drifts away.
The trembling flowers come to rest.
The sky is almost blue again.
I lie here, exhausted, spent.
For what comes next.
Inspired by the stories shared on the Perspectives trip in Israel, May 2013. Particularly the stories from Netiv Haasarah, just North of Gaza.