The last time I went to Israel was an incredible experience. I remember being moved by the spirituality of the nation, the beauty in the culture, the big personalities of the people, and the deliciousness of the food. I remember thinking Israel was paradise, and I could never understand why people thought it wasn’t safe. I had never felt safer. I had fallen in love with my homeland, head over heels with my leg popped and my smile so wide.
The UN Deal passed right before I left for the Holy Land, a resolution that illegalized Israeli settlements. Well, here we go again. The “settlements issue.” Settlements are such a topic of conversation in the United States, and a topic of controversy at that. Everyone has an opinion, even though few of us are Israeli or Palestinian. We are simply Americans who care about what happens in the Middle East, and we can’t influence the Israeli government. To be honest, I didn’t have much of an opinion about settlements before I went. Then, I spent an entire week on the ground, in the settlements, in Palestinian territory. To say the least, I now have an opinion.
The first time we went to the West Bank, we went to Gush Etzion. Gush Etzion’s residents are almost entirely Israelis, and in a potential two-state solution, it is predicted to remain a part of Israel. While I was there, I met a woman who was born in “The Gush.” In 1948, Arabs kicked her and her family out of their home. She was not even 10 years old. She figured they would be leaving for a couple of months, but that they would return to their home. She was not able to return home for 21 years—until 1967. The Yom Kippur War. Yet, today, she has nothing against Arabs or Palestinians. She said they co-exist peacefully where she lives. On the ground, the idea of peace seems so much more realistic.
On January 1st, I went into Palestinian territory for the first and potentially last time. I had the honor of going to Rawabi and Ramallah, which in itself I could write about forever. What I remember most, though, was someone in my group pointing across the mountains and asking what city it was. I knew it was Haifa. Our Palestinian guide said, “that’s occupied Palestine.”
The hunger for a homeland is not a uniquely Jewish thing. Palestinians have such a yearning to be citizens of somewhere, and they want it to be Palestine. Both sides want peace. We want a solution in which Israel can remain a Jewish and democratic state, and Palestinians can live in a country in which they have all of the rights that accompany being a citizen. So if everyone wants this, why hasn’t it happened yet? The settlements issue is complicated. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in its simplest terms, is complicated.
Karli Krasnipol (left, in the photo) is a Junior from Wilmington, NC. She double majors in Political Science and Journalism with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in Religious Studies. She is the President of Heels for Israel, advocating on campus and across the nation for the U.S.- Israel alliance. Blog posts are written by individual students and may not represent the opinion or position of North Carolina Hillel.