Impressions of the Beit Midrash for Human Rights at the Max Stern Jezreel Valley College students following their tour of the Jerusalem envelope
During the tour we could see the other face of Israel – the face that they try to hide and don’t rush to put on the public agenda. I came to the tour with strong political opinions about the existing situation and the tour let me see reality from angles that I wasn’t familiar with or wasn’t exposed to. The tour made me look at human beings as human beings and there are some things much more important than political opinions, such as human rights which are trampled on and undermined on a daily basis and nobody cares.
I came home from the tour a different person with a different outlook and I am happy that I went to Jerusalem and saw the less pretty sides of the country because it is important to see these people’s daily reality and I really hope that they won’t be “invisible” and will receive fair treatment.
I hadn’t been in Jerusalem for many years. I had never visited the places that we visited on the tour. The tour provided me with a lot of knowledge about Jerusalem and especially East Jerusalem. I saw the lives of the residents who suffer from difficulties and a lack of rights. We saw houses that Arabs were forcibly expelled from and had to move to another place without receiving any compensation or right to live in peace with basic rights such as building rights, water and electricity infrastructure, a roof over their heads, etc. In Sheikh Jarrah and in all of East Jerusalem and the Arabs communities surrounding it, only four schools have been built since 1967.
I was very impressed by Nava, she’s an amazing woman. I am proud that there are people like her, loyal activists for human rights, regardless of ethnic group, religion, or nationality. She stands and talks clearly about the truth and what is happening in the field. I hope that there will be more people like her because, with her help and the help of others, maybe there will be less suffering and more peace in the world.
I was glad to visit holy places, Rachel’s tomb, the Western Wall, etc. Every religion has its holy places and holy burial places. I was glad to be one of the visitors to these places and I would be even happier if we could have visited places holy to Christianity and Islam.
In sum, a very important and interesting tour, I hope to go back there again and continue the full tour.
I have been to Jerusalem many times on my own and with school and the army. During the Beit Midrash for Human Rights’ tour, I was exposed to other faces of Jerusalem, East Jerusalem and the Jerusalem envelope. I had mostly heard about these places from TV and usually in a negative context (demonstrations and illegal construction).
After the Six Day War, Israel annexed a lot of territory to Jerusalem and dozens of Palestinian villages, with the goal of increasing the territory of Israel and Jewish presence. Residents of East Jerusalem with a blue ID card are eligible for national insurance and health insurance, but do not have the right to vote for Knesset because they do not recognize the sovereignty of the State of Israel. These are things that everyone knows about the residents of East Jerusalem. About the separation fence, I knew that it was meant to separate Israelis from Palestinians in order to improve the security of the residents of Israel after many terrorist attacks. Most people also know about the limitations on entering Israel placed on those who are on the other side of the fence. What most influenced me about our visit to these places was first of all the neglect of East Jerusalem, uncollected garbage and how crowded it was. The separation fence, made of concrete, is so tall and it didn’t give me a feeling of security, but rather physical separation and a feeling of alienation from the people who live on the other side. I also felt the same way about the settlements of Jewish families in the heart of Arab neighborhoods. These people are willing to live in poor conditions just to force one more Arab family to leave their home. I also had mixed feelings then: maybe despite all of this we can live in peace? They are living in each other’s backyards. I saw Arab and Jewish children coming home from school and not throwing stones at each other! Jerusalem is a holy city for all the religions, but it is precisely religion that separates neighbors in the same city. Politicians and religious leaders guide us away from peace and love of fellow man, towards a stupid war over space in the holy city. Once again, I came home frustrated from the holy city and when I shared my thoughts with my friends on the experience of my visit to East Jerusalem I did not feel identification. Maybe because they were not physically there they cannot identify with the difficulties of living under occupation.
Overall, the tour opened up a new perspective for me, and hopefully one day there will be no need for borders and separations between nations, and not only in Israel.
The tour was very interesting; I think that if I had not been in the Beit Midrash I would not have visited those places. The tour contributed a lot to me in terms of knowledge. It’s important to see things in the field and not only hear about the conflict from the media. It was important to me to see things from the other side! Even though my opinions are contrary to the rationale of the tour, and there were many loaded moments, the tour was very powerful!
The tour was very interesting and new. I had never been there. I like walking tours and I think it’s good to do something more than driving in a car, getting out, and going back… to move your legs a bit. I was glad that there was time to see East Jerusalem, too.
In the end, I think that the tour was very important, it opened up a new perspective for me, and maybe we should have also heard from the other side about its feelings.
Thanks to the tour, I gained a new perspective on the situation in Jerusalem. Nava presented a certain opinion, which is contrary to mine, but she managed to get her point across in a very acceptable way. She managed to reach my heart despite my different opinion.
In addition, the tour was very interesting and to the point. We went to places I would have never gone to alone and even if I passed through there in one way or another, I would not have seen the sad situation and there is no doubt that today when I will be in the area, I will see the situation with different eyes.
Before the tour, I was not aware of the enormously problematic nature of East Jerusalem and the historical tensions and gaps there. It was terrible for me to see the group of people from Brooklyn who broke into the homes of Palestinian families. I was very interested to see what will happen in a few decades, because there is a very high natural population growth both amongst the Arab residents and the Jews who live in East Jerusalem. This issue will cause an explosion on top of what is going on today. At Rachel’s tomb, I was very annoyed about the amount of money that was thrown away there to build walls and for an entire battalion of border police to guard it. What was nice to see is that Jerusalem, throughout the generations, remains such a powerful and beautiful place despite all the problems in the city. It’s just a piece of land and stones that cause so much tension, death and racism. The city is stronger than any particular generation or nation living in it.