On Monday we experienced dual narratives in a very real way. In the morning we visited a Palestinian farm. The landowner, David, who is a Palestinian Christian, shared the story of his family’s history with us and how they came to the land. He explained the struggle he is facing to keep the land and his vision for turning it into the Tent of Nations. The slogan that he uses is: “We refuse to be enemies.” We spent a couple of hours helping him work the land.
After this we visited Kfar Etzion, a settlement between Bethlehem and Hebron. There we met with Myron & Jonki, two Jewish settlers. It was fascinating to hear their narratives, the reasons they both joined the community and their vision of the future. They had very different political and theological orientations and I appreciated seeing a bit more of the complexity within a discourse that from the outside can be assumed to be far more homogenous. It was also really poignant to see the struggle they are both having with the situation.
In the evening we met with the Executive Director of Rabbis for Human Rights, Rabbi Arik Ascherman, back in Jerusalem. This added another layer to the Israeli and Jewish narrative. I gained a real-time perspective, during this day, on the varied ways in which Israelis are working for justice. It gave me great hope.
This day drew my attention to the different perspectives on land – different ideas of ownership, use, rights, etc. And control of land as a tool for political control or power.
The day finished (for me) with a lovely dinner at a re staurant near our hotel. The majority of the group joined a group of students from George Mason University to hear two speakers – the leaders of the youth movements within the two dominant parties in Israeli politics – Peace Now and Likud. I skipped this in favor of sleep but learned later that it gave insights into the rhetoric and spin of politics and revealed how “right” (for want of a better term – I don’t like that this term has a connotation for Americans) both the leading parties are.