Trying to draw conclusions from our recent Multiple Narratives Trip, I am reading through my notebook from the trip. 90% of the notes are information: numbers, statistics, historical events, laws – facts that I wanted to remember. What struck me at first was all the things I didn’t know, or more accurately, that I knew only from an Israeli perspective on the situation. Hearing contradicting definitions of expressions such as “’48 refugees”, “settlements”, “the Palestinian State”, “land rules”, and “rights”, was (and still is) hard to Peace-building Leadership Seminar (PLS) sessions are based on personal interaction; the way we see, feel, react, dream, and understand, while the Multiple Narratives trip emphasizes knowledge, historical and current information about the situation in which we are living. I remember being taught during a storytelling workshop at the very beginning of the semester that people will believe a story 22 times more than statistics; but I felt that the information we were given during the trip was a necessary step in understanding logically what my heart has been feeling for a while.
As human beings, when we feel connected we can open up and be involved. I came to the Arava Institute because I felt connected. I had a strong feeling that I wanted, needed to know and meet others so I could understand my identity; and participate, in my own unique way. I still believe that, but I know that now is also the time to ask hard questions. Who are we? Who do we aspire to be? What life do we want to live? I have roots that I can deepen and that I can expand. I am Israeli and my roots are here. At the same time, my friend next to me is a Palestinian who was uprooted from her home, and her heart is still there. It is difficult for me to think about my existence here in relation to the situation of my friend next door.
I was taught that life is based on different layers. There is a depth to everything I see and hear. With depth there is separation, there has to be division, we cannot live in the depth of the same layer. I need to keep some distance from the person in front of me so I can see them. The world is a web- lines that separate, lines that overlap, points that meet and blank space waiting to be created. I want to believe that here, we are creating another string of connection in the web that will stay strong even when the wind blows.
Submitted by Shira, Fall 2019 student