Today we went to an Israeli settlement where we met with two rabbis who spoke with us about Zionism and the function of settlements within it. Their presentations were rather different, as one seemed much more militant than the other.
From the settlement we went immediately to a Palestinian refugee camp in Hebron. We spoke with people who have lived their entire lives there and visited a women's center in the camp.
Needless to say, we heard very different perspectives on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and the involvement of the United States. The issues here are exceedingly complex. There are not just two sides to the conflict. There are many different voices and ideas among both Israelis and Palestinians. In the United States we often don't see this. Our media tends to oversimplify things, perhaps in the interest of creating a manageable story, perhaps in some other interest. When you come here, though, if you take the time to talk to people, you can begin to realize the vast complexity of the issues, and it can be very difficult to envision any type of feasible solution. It became clear to me that if citizens of the United States want to help to work for peace in this region, we have to start by educating ourselves and moving beyond the popular ideas that come to us via the mainstream media.