Last night we visited Orna and Rami, a Jewish Israeli couple, at their home, 20 minutes outside of Tel Aviv. While their views are considered liberal by Israeli standards, I found them to still consist of many stereotypes that stem from fear. For example, they believe strongly in the necessity for a Jewish homeland in Israel, and yet they also feel that peace much be reached and are willing to make some sacrifices in order to reach this goal. Orna and Rami embrace the idea that agreement will only be reached if Israel does make sacrifices.
If I were an Israeli, I would feel extremely threatened by the thought of losing the wall. At the same time, the way that the wall has been built is unacceptable and is a huge matter of contention between the two sides.To Orna and Rami the wall is safety and is the main reason why they can now allow their two teenage children to ride public buses or go shopping in the city. It now makes sense to me why the Israelis are so attached to this dividing mechanism. For a while I believed that the wall was meant to make Palestinian’s lives more difficult, thereby encouraging them to move elsewhere where they could gain more freedom. This is an outcome of the wall’s establishment but not the wall’s main purpose, at least to the Israeli people.
Our tour guide, who took us through Jerusalem, was a young Jewish citizen of Israel who worked with the Israeli Commission Against Home Demolitions (ICAHD) and, although she was raised in a Zionist family In Israel, saw many flaws in Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and actively works against her own government to promote her vision of justice. Her view is extremely uncommon among Israelis and it makes me wonder how she was ever able to form opinions that opposed every notion she was raised to believe in.
As we drove through the city she talked about Judaization and its effect on East Jerusalem, a predominantly Palestinian territory. Although I knew previously about the existence of home demolitions, I did not know the details of owning property as a Palestinian in Israel. There are two parts to Judaization that our tour guide discussed: 1) Making life hard for Palestinians in Jerusalem (i.e. strict taxes and withholding building permits). This way the Palestinians are either forced to leave their homes to seek better lives elsewhere or they illegally build homes on their land without permits and are fined heavily along with running the risk of having their homes demolished with all of the belongings inside of it. Either way the Palestinians are constantly encouraged to leave. 2) Encourage as much Jewish settlement in Palestinians areas as possible. Both of these methods work to maximize Jewish occupation and minimize Palestinian population so that Israel has more right to claim Jerusalem as its own. So far 30,000 Palestinians have migrated from Jerusalem to the West Bank, accounting for 10% of the Palestinian population in Jerusalem. This has all happened within the past 40 years.