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  • Writer's pictureLauren

A journey through Israel and Palestine

Updated: Apr 11, 2020

Israel had never been on my list of places to travel, in fact, it's not a place that I had really thought much about besides the occasional story in the news about the political conflict or once watching a John Green video to try to understand. But, as the experience minded person I am, who loves a good trip, when I heard of an opportunity to go to Israel with the Hillel center on my campus for a veryy reasonable price it was something that I couldn't resist applying to. When I got in I was ecstatic. I knew from people who had gone on past trips that this program had been a once and a lifetime experience. The program, Israel Discovered, is run by the Hillel Center, which is the hub for Jewish student life on campus. The trip is designed to bring student leaders from different backgrounds together on a trip to Israel to learn about the history and culture of Israel while gaining different perspectives on the Israeli, Palestinian conflict.

Going into the program it was nerve wracking, while Israel hasn't experienced larger level conflict in awhile there is always the potential of escalation. There are also many countries in the Middle East, such as Iran, that are sworn enemies of Israel and are completely against the idea of a Jewish state. On top of the internal conflict, Trump had just assassinated General Qassem Suleimani of Iran. The world (probably mostly Twitter) was deep into talks and memes about the coming World War III. And here I was, cautiously, going to the epicenter of where it all could take place. I was nervous, but determined to go and after a 17 hour flight where I watched endless movies and forced myself to sleep despite my anxieties and a quick stop in Germany we arrived in Israel.

There's something so scary yet exciting about going into a country you basically know nothing about. I was excited to learn and experience new things and although this was an educational trip, have fun. What I had in mind going into this trip is not necessarily what I actually got out of it. I went in thinking that I would learn a lot about Israel and the Middle East, which I did, but I also came out of the trip with a much deeper understanding of my own values and understanding of the world. I also came out of the trip making some amazing connections with people I may have never met otherwise.

In some ways by the end of the trip I wanted to separate Israel, the place and Israel the political institution. I sometimes felt conflicted because it felt as if to enjoy the place was to ignore the political implications of the place and the people who were struggling as a result of the establishment of the place. In real life I can't ignore that a place and the politics of a place go together, and that one does impact the other.

Here I can separate them a little, if only by posts.

Israel and Palestine: The politics (coming soon)



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