Oregon State University|blogs.oregonstate.edu

Not in Kansas Anymore

  March 24th, 2009

I feel angry today. Occupation is ugly.

I feel angry that Israel is building a wall.

I feel angry about the little things that one group of people will do to chip away the dignity of another group.

I feel angry that the language of the Palestinians was filled with hate and blame.

I feel angry that over and over I heard people compare Israel’s occupation to the tragic plight of the Native Americans.  What happened to the Native Americans is not comparable.

I feel angry that fresh clean water is a privilege not a right.

I feel shocked that I met students who would leave their house to go to class and not know if they will make it past all the checkpoints.

I feel shocked to meet PhD scientists and their students who were not allowed to cross political borders to study the natural borders of the environment. The geology of the mountains and valleys, the waves of the ocean, or the rivers and groundwater that are mere kilometers away.

I feel afraid that there is no hope for a peaceful solution to the Israel – Palestine situation.

I feel afraid that things are getting worse.

I feel afraid that I cannot make a difference.

I feel afraid that security is a justification for violence.

I feel afraid to be Jewish.

I feel sad that the deep history of this area is filled with tragedy that seems to continually snake it’s way into the present day,

I feel sad that Israeli citizens are not allowed to meet the people and visit the occupied areas of the West Bank.

I feel sad that the Jordan River is NOT deep and wide.

I feel sad that there is tragedy on a multiplicity of sides and levels that is overwhelming to comprehend.

I feel sad that I met people who can see the Mediterranean Sea, but cannot go to the beach and let the cool waves rush through their toes.

Again we were delayed, at a checkpoint, a young man, in an Israel uniform, walked by our bus. I sat next to a beautiful young man, a student of Environmental Science at the university. Next to me, whispered in confidence, he said to me: “I hate him.”   I wanted to wrap him in my arms and fill his heart with love. But how? How to teach love to someone who has lived his whole life under occupation, and watch a wall being built? I felt my heart split open.

I feel sad as we unloaded the bus of our bags, hugging, saying our goodbyes and then dragging our bags across the checkpoint and waving goodbye to our new brothers and sisters on the other side.

I feel happy that the American students and the Palestine students felt only a moment of awkwardness at our first cookies and bottled water welcoming reception. Then it was like we were children on a playground we made our best friend in one afternoon.

I feel happy the food I was given was the best food I have had on the entire trip!

I feel happy that I got to paint a Mandala with two Palestine men and two Palestine women. That is five people doing one painting. Talk about being able to share space!

I was happy that the students from the University were happy and joyous. That they sang songs, danced, smoked hooka, and played cards with us.

I feel happy that I met beautiful, intelligent women. Women with hopes, dreams, and open hearts.

I feel happy that I met handsome intelligent men. Kind, helpful, and gracious.

I feel happy that I have been to the other side of the wall.

I feel happy that I saw the archeological dig in Jericho where the walls of Jericho stood thousands of years ago.

I feel grateful to Ahmer and Aaron for having the vision and courage to bring us together.

I feel grateful to everyone who is helping me to walk through tremulous canyons, and helping me carry my video camera.

I feel grateful when someone takes my video camera and wants to give it a try.

I feel grateful that this is just the beginning of my learning.

I feel grateful to be here.

I hope and I hope and I hope.

-Sarah S.

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