Monday was an interesting day for me. I spent the day witnessing one reality and the evening listening to something else.
Let's start with the evening. Our program's weekly enrichment was a workshop with a woman from a company called Debate. She was there to give us some tools for the challenges we might face when we tell people that we chose to spend time in Israel. As you read in my last post, not everyone is so keen on Israel. There are entire movements (like BDS) opposing Israel's right to even exist. So she was there to tell us about the questions we might be asked and some of the best ways to answer these questions without having our words twisted around. The precision with which one must speak about Israel is utterly ridiculous. Dissenters will take even the most positive of things and turn it into a negative. Although I experienced it for years, the battle of rhetoric and semantics about Israel in the rest of the world never ceases to amaze me.
Now let's go back to my day. I was lucky enough to spend the day volunteering at a Mini Mondial (Mini World Cup - Mondial is what they call it) put on by The Peres Center For Peace. This tournament was part of an ongoing soccer program that brings Israeli and Palestinian children together through sports. The children go to after school soccer trainings in their cities and are taught soccer terminology in each other's languages, sportsmanship, leadership, and team work, and most importantly they are brought together to play soccer with each other. All day I watched these kids have fun just playing together. Of course not everyone got along perfectly, but it was so amazing to see the mixture of Israeli and Palestinian children getting to be what they are – kids.
So here is what is happening in America (and other places around the world): grown adults are yelling in each other's faces because they can't agree on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And here is what is happening in Israel: actual Israeli and Palestinian children are learning about each other in order to create meaningful relationships, which will hopefully lead them to grow up with more understanding of each other.
I realize neither of these situations is the reality everywhere. Not every confrontation about Israel is yelling, heated, or irrational. And in many places in Israel the Jewish and Palestinians are not getting along. I've said it before, I'll say it again, and just about everyone else will also tell you that IT IS COMPLICATED. I just really felt that the juxtaposition of these two experiences in one day gave me some perspective about things. My perspective? There is hope for some kind of peace, somewhere in the future. I saw that in these kids and I hope that we adults can get ourselves together to encourage them to work towards it, or maybe even genuinely work towards it ourselves.