Spent the day touring another Kibbutz (MIshmar HaEmek). It was kind of relaxing to get away from intensive learning about the conflict; but then again, everything ties back in some way to the conflict. What an interesting concept, for the most part unlike anything we see in the U.S. The only comparable things to Kibbutzim in America that I know of are “intentional Quaker communities,” and other religious communities I’m sure. Traditional Kibbutzim are socialist, self-sustaining communities that are completely atheist (Atheist? I was surprised). They center themselves around being under the umbrella of the Jewish people, not the Jewish religion. They still recognize and celebrate the Jewish holidays, but secularly, as a way to connect with their fellow Kibbutzniks, not for religious purposes. In fact, people are allowed to live with and have children with whomever they want, and religious marriages (which are the only marriages recognized by the Israeli state, not Civil Ceremonies, etc.) are not allowed to be performed within the Kibbutz. They have managed to create such an environment where they connect in their culture, tradition, and family. More and more now, though, Kibbutzim are privatizing and allowing higher salaries for some members over others. The sense that I got was that the traditional Kibbutzim look down upon those who have privatized. I don’t really know much beyond that what the differences between privatized and un-privatized Kibbutzim are.
Then we went to get a quick lunch. I had falafel, which was so good that I was convinced I’ve never actually had falafel until today. After lunch, we continued on our bus, and saw several areas. The parts that stuck out for me the most were where the wall and the Green Line differ. The Green Line is where Israel recognizes the West Bank, and the wall (which is instituted for security reasons, which is highly debated in itself) was intended to follow the Green Line. The wall is pushed into the West Bank side, usually to be able to absorb settlements into the Israeli side. This “limbo land” between the Green Line and the wall is where not only settlements are, but many Arab neighborhoods are as well.
We had a Shabbat dinner back at the Kibbutz we’re staying at, and had a quiet night. Turns out the guy we were with yesterday, who led our Shabbat dinner was on the Canadian National Olympic wrestling team and so was his friend who he brought along with him.
Also, I suggest checking out Meg’s blog from today about the graffiti on the Separation wall in Jerusalem that we saw on Day 2.