Pro Peace – End of Israel and Palestine Trip

It’s been an amazing trip, and I’m so grateful that I was able to be a part of it. Before the trip I barely knew anything about the conflict, but I have come out with a plethora of knowledge. Meeting people face to face was the most important aspect of the trip. It allowed me to put faces to the conflict. It is much different to meet people rather than hearing their stories through the media that sometimes skews the facts because of bias viewpoints.

Us at Masada


Both Palestinian and Israeli families are just like us. They want the best for their families and are afraid of the unknown. I understand that Israeli families are afraid and think that the wall is keeping them safe, but the wall is creating resentment, especially among youth. It was hard to hear from my fifteen year old host sister that she had been interrogated with tedious and repetitive questions at the bridges coming from Jordan after a basketball game the night that I was waiting with her parents for her to come home. She is nice and really normal so I have no clue why the military would question her for hours. Even though I only got to see my host sister for a day, because she was away at a basketball game, I got really close to her. I wish I had gotten to spend more time with her. Continue reading “Pro Peace – End of Israel and Palestine Trip”

Refugee camp and Bedouin photos – Palestine

Days 8-9

Yesterday we visited a refugee camp and a Bedouin community. Both were really good to see because they show how bad some conditions are for Palestinians. The woman who spoke to us at the refugee camp was for a one state solution. In her eyes she can’t see a coexistence, which we questioned her about. Talking to this woman was a good contrast between the settler we talked to. Both did not acknowledge the other’s right to the land. This was good for us to see because it gave us a sample of people on the Palestinian side whom are not ready to work together. The people in the Bedouin community have lost all but two structures to live in. These photos show what is actually going on.

Going to the house of a Bedouin.




Traffic created by a check point:


We left the Old City and are now with our host families in Ramallah! To get to our hotel in the Old City our large group of 26 people all rolled our bags up through steep inclines with cobblestone. Last night we found washing machines on the roof, but found at midnight that the dryers did not work so we all hung clothes outside in an attempt to dry them by morning. I’m pretty sure that the washers were only for the hotel towels but, hey, we tried.


Monica and I are staying with a really wealthy Palestinian family right now. It really surprised me how much they have. They have guards and like four houses in one, maids, and cooks. At first I was like, how are they oppressed? After talking to them, I understand that event though they have so much, unlike the majority of Palestineans, they still feel the racism every time they are rejected at checkpoints and run into other walls when trying to get basic things such as a permit so that they can get medical help.

Days 6-7 in Israel and Palestine

Yesterday we woke up before 6 AM so that we could get a photo of the sun rising above the Dome of the Rock. Unfortunately, it was too hazy to see the sun. After breakfast at 6:30 we all headed to the Dome of the Rock to get there before the line was too line.

Later that morning we went to the Holocaust Museum and then drove to Bethlehem in the West Bank for dinner and dancing with our host students! We also went shopping in the Old City where we had to bargain for a good price. Luckily I had Shirley and Qiu Yao who are really good at bargaining since they do it in China! They were awesome and got the price of my stuffed camel down by 20 sheckles. Our host students are really nice. Qiu Yao, Shirley, Monica, and I are staying in an apartment in the building with our host Rachel. It’s been fun to actually stay in a Palestinian home.

Qiu Yao and I eating a typical breakfast in the apartment this morning!

We visited another part of the separation wall this morning where we saw graffiti and messages put up by Palestinians from the area.




We then went to hear from a settler in Efrat, a settlement founded in the. 1970s that houses 10,000 modern Orthodox Jews. David, the member who spoke with us grew up in Chicago but moved to Israel to fulfill himself as a Jew. His statements contradict what we have heard from Palestinians. He doesn’t know of any water issue and said that his settlement is “a blessing on the Palestinian community”. He said that the wall was necessary because of how dangerous it was to even just walk around ten years ago. The two hour conversation was very substantive and I really appreciate that he took time to talk to our large group to give his point of view.

Contrastly, we then went to a nearby Palestinian farm called The Tent of Nations that is surrounded by five settlements. The Israeli government has been persistent in trying to take this land from them. This family, unlike many other Palestinians registered all of the land with the Ottoman Empire to pay taxes and therefore has papers to prove ownership. The government has shut off their water and electricity. There is also a gate and boulders that block the driveway. This government demolished their house and took away building permits so they live in a CAVE. They are self sufficient and have proven that they will do anything to keep this land, even after their trees for harvest have been repetitively cut down.


This conflict is so complicated and everyone whom we have spoken with feels passionately for their side. I feel for both sides, because they both feel that they are not being respected. The problem is that there is no trust between the sides and that the people living in both parts do not talk with each other so they just make assumptions about the other based off of the different things that the government is telling them through bias media.

Days 3-5 in Israel

The past three days have gone by really quickly. Everyday we have been walking a lot, eating great food, meeting great people, and seeing amazing places! Monday we went to Kibbutz Dalia.

We then went to meet Lydia Aisenberg at Kibbutz Givat Havia. Lydia describes herself as a Zionist with a conscious. She came to Israel seeking a community that would accept her after being rejected by communities in Whales and London.

That afternoon she took us to East Barta’a, a place between the Green Line and the Fence. We walked through the whole town that has been set up by Palestinians who are selling things cheaply. They do not have to pay taxes, so they can take advantage of benefits such as the Israeli education system. It was hard to walk through this community because of how poor they are, but I did not feel unsafe at all, because they, for the most part just seemed excited to see us.



On Tuesday we continued talking with Lydia about how her Kibbutz worked. I did not expect a Kibbutz to be so big. Hers was funded through a patent that had been sold a while ago and is continued to be funded through people who are willing to pay for tours. A socialist like community is taking advantage of capitalism. Members have to work until they are 70, cannot own their own car, and have to contribute their whole salary and split it evenly with everyone. Lydia gets about $10,000 a year.

Today (Wednesday) we went to Nazareth. We went to the Basilica of Annunciation, Nazareth Village museum, the Church of Multiplication (Jesus served bread and fish), Church of Primacy of St. Peter (Jesus sifted post resurrection), Capernum (located on Sea if Gaillee), and the Church of Beatitudes.
At Nazareth Village we saw what life was like when Jesus was alive. There were sheep, so of course most of us took selfies with sheep.




Tomorrow we are off to the Holocaust museum and to meet our first host family!

Day 2 in Israel

Location: Azzahra Hotel in Jerusalem

I can’t believe that this is only the end of our second day…we’ve done and learned so much already. Yesterday night after a long eleven hour flight from Philadelphia to Tel Aviv, we went to the Dar Ramot family in Neve Neeman for a delicious welcome dinner and discussion. The pita bread, hummus (pronounced hoomus), cheesy bread, chocolate, and cookies were all greatly appreciated after the meals provided by US Airways that most people slept through. After dinner and cookies, we got to hear the prospective of the conflict from an Israeli family with a son in the army. We learned about why they felt safer with the wall being built and their perspective on whether peace can be achieved. This conversation was a good lead into today’s events in touring Jerusalem.

At 7:00 AM we all went down to breakfast where we were met with more delicious pita bread with all kinds of spreads and pastries. Full, and ready for the day, we left at 8:00 for a walking tour of the Old City (in 70-80 degree weather). The narrow and labyrinth like streets in the Old City had merchants along the sides selling candy, fresh fruit, clothes, and jewelry. We were led by our tour guide to The Church of the Holy Seplechure and The Wailing Wall (The Western Wall). At The Wailing Wall, women and men are separated for prayer.



After lunch we all boarded the bus for a bus tour of East and West Jerusalem. I learned more about the conflict during this four hour bus ride than I had known two days ago. Our tour guide, Jeff Halper is an Israeli Jew who belongs to the Israeli Commission Against Housing Demolitions gave us his perspective about the conflict, some of which was completely opposite of the Dar Ramot family. Driving around East Jerusalem in the city of Silwan, which has been changed to The City of David, where the Palestinians live opened our eyes to the stark difference between the living conditions of the Palestinians and Israelis. Jeff said, “This is where the sidewalk ends.” At this point on the street Israelis will not continue to walk, and the infrastructure is completely different. There are no sidewalks and trash litters the streets and yards everywhere since there is no trash collection. There were also demolished homes and barren land that is zoned for future Israeli Urban development. The illegal Palestinian homes are easily recognizable because they have black barrels on the roof to collect water since their water has been shut off. We continued to E1, an Israeli settlement nearby is vastly different than the Palestinian city less than a mile away. It is a comfort zone where Israeli’s can have a higher standard of living for lower costs in a depoliticized area. The biggest, and most shocking difference is that they have three Olympic sized pools and a giant man made lake for aesthetics while the Palestinians down the street cannot depend on having water for a shower.



These two days have given us first hand interactions and experiences where we have heard truths from two sides of the complex conflict. While most of us are still jet-lagged we are ready for another early morning when we will be going to Zohar Badeshe Kibbutz Dalia.

Getting Ready

I can’t believe that senior projects are only eight days away and I will be heading off to the Philadelphia Airport with nineteen other seniors to experience a whole new culture. The Israel Palestine conflict is on the news all of the time, but not many people, including myself, have a good understanding of what the conflict is about.

I chose the Israel Palestine faculty led senior project because I knew that it would be an unforgettable trip that I could never do on my own. T. Melissa and her husband John Evans have connections on the Israeli and Palestinian side that will make this trip full of first hand encounters. I am especially looking forward to the home stays with students from our sister school, Ramallah Friends School. To include my interest in photography, I will be taking photos throughout our journey and composing a photo journal when I return. Continue reading “Getting Ready”