When I made aliyah a year ago, I knew that I was doing so on the grounds that it would be challenging, not only financially or emotionally, but because Israel is difficult. There is nothing easy about Israel, and maybe that is where her true beauty comes from.
Pardes set up a trip for our community to Hebron. Having been to Hebron two years ago, the announcement of the trip already made me a little uneasy as images sprang into my memory. The early deserted streets, Palestinains walking with their heads down hoping not to make eye contact, settlers strolling with AK47s over their shoulders. Hebron is not an easy city to visit. I wouldn't say that it is dangerous, many of our IDF soldiers are keeping it's streets quiet and safe, but this city is existing as a polar opposite to what I wish for Israel in terms of peace. I want to live in Israel peacefully with my neighbors, neighbors of all religions. And as Eve (last name) one of our speakers stated, peace is only real when two sides are living together. Peace is not when one side is removed.
This visit to Hebron was different, we started with a tour of Tel Hebron (the excavations of the biblical city) followed by a tour of the Tomb of the Patriarchs, (which I loved!), we listened to a representative from Breaking the Silence, an organization designed to change the way that soldiers interact with residences in Hebron. Afterwards we listened to two different settlers living in Hebron about their reasons for living their and their hopes for the future. At the end of the day we talked to a Palestinian human rights activist who grew up and is now living in Hebron. Did you just ask yourself, "How long were these students in Hebron?" Well, you're right, it was a long intense day. But I found myself very grateful for the number of views that were presented to me.
My struggle with Israel was not lessened after my second visit to Hebron, but I did find myself thinking that I made the right decision to live in a country that I love. In a country that I know will be here for me and my children in the future, a country that is always changing and evolving and learning to live peacefully. I know that there are things in Israel that I am not proud of, but there are things in the US that I am not proud of either. And despite these things, I am a proud citizen and know that I have to be here to help make the country better and even more beautiful than when I arrived.