Tuesday, January 30, 2018

'No easy answer' to Israel complexities: A young first-timer's reflections

The author, center in blue, with her fellow Caravan for Democracy participants.

The Caravan for Democracy Student Leadership Mission is a 10-day, fully subsidized trip to Israel for non-Jewish student leaders who've never been. The unique program, which took place this year from Dec. 27 - Jan. 7, gives participants the opportunity to explore Israel by meeting with political, cultural, and community leaders from diverse backgrounds and faiths. Here, a reflection on this year's CFD trip by a University of Virginia student.

By Megha Karthikeyan

Spending 10 days in Israel with 80 student leaders was an amazing experience. Being able to have deep conversations with people I had only known for a few days and understanding their perspectives opened my eyes to other ways of thinking. That said, my time in Israel was confusing in some ways. 

Going into the trip I didn't know how to feel about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I hadn't learned a lot about it in my classes and I wanted this trip to show me what the right answer was. However, I learned early on that Israel and its neighbors are very complex and there is no black and white solution to the problem. 

Our tour guide Yariv said, "I’ve been confused for my entire life about the conflict, so you can’t expect to understand it in 10 days." This resonated with me because I always thought that if I talked to enough people I would know which policy was the right one for both Israel and Palestine to agree on. When we spoke with Einat Wilf, a former politician, she said she didn’t think the Palestinians wanted a state because of the Palestinian moderates she had met with. She said they didn't acknowledge the existence of Israel, which was a crucial point the Israelis wanted. This confused me because I felt the average Palestinian would want peace and would want to have their own state to call home. The language being used described what the government said more than what the people decided.