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An editor’s glimpse of Israel

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By Desiree Perez

By Desiree Perez

If I learned anything in Israel, it’s that I know nothing.

Before my trip to Israel, my knowledge of the conflict was limited – very limited. I knew that Israelis and Palestinians were fighting. There were bombs involved. That’s it. I wasn’t clear on exactly why there was a conflict, and I certainly didn’t have any idea about how to end it.

I thought I’d come home with all the answers to these questions, and I planned on writing an article to let everyone back home know exactly what had to be done about the conflict.

During my time abroad, I witnessed the realities – both good and bad – that make up daily life in Israel.

The country’s landscape is beautiful, and just as diverse as the population. From top to bottom, the country about the size of New Jersey has desert oases, green valleys, misty mountain ranges and beautiful soft-sand beaches.

Its spectrum of inhabitants includes a conservative religious population, secular metropolitan citizens, nomadic desert tribes and communist kibbutz villages.

Despite obvious differences, or perhaps because of them, meeting the varied groups of people who live in Israel draws a parallel to the melting-pot population here in California.

At the root of it, as people, we’re all the same.

On another note, however, seeing the run of daily life in Israel also draws a sharp contrast to life here in California.

There’s no way for us here at RCC to know how it feels to live in Israel during this conflict.

We can’t know how it feels to live in Gaza, and have a wall separate us from the rest of the country. And, I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had the gas to my house cut off as an anti-terrorism tactic.

In the West Bank, residents cohabitate with the Israeli Defense Forces that occupy the territory.

In Sderot, the kindergartens are built like bomb shelters to protect children from Hamas attacks. Parents here at home have probably never dealt with the fear of sending a child to school, knowing that a terrorist has threatened to blow up a school bus that week.

The turmoil continues as Israel tries to resolve issues with Fattah in the West Bank and the Hamas-run Gaza strip.

Some propose a two-state solution, where the West Bank and Gaza become a Palestinian state. Others argue that the split, both physical and political, between Gaza and West Bank offers itself to a three state solution instead.

At the same time, Israel must defend itself against the label of apartheid, while defending civilians from terrorist threats.

Israeli Defense Forces and police argue that the security fence that separates Israel from Gaza and the West Bank is a necessary defense measure. The fence, they claim, has saved the lives of countless innocent Israelis.

Others argue that the mere presence of the security fence, which in some high risk areas is a concrete wall, is a symbol of oppression and inequality. The mere presence of the fence is a provocation of aggression and retaliation from Gaza and the West Bank.

If the fence is left up, it sends the message of repression and discrimination. However, if the fence is torn down, innocent lives could be lost. This situation is an embodiment of the complexity of the conflict.

It’s difficult to say what will happen in Israel in the future. A resolution to the conflict is a difficult decision to settle on. Peace talks are slow going, and violence has escalated since my visit.

What the moderate majority of Israelis and Palestinians seem to agree on, is that the segregation, fear and aggression need to end.

I went to Israel knowing almost nothing about the strife in the region, and I expected to come back with all the answers, but there are no answers. What I came back with instead were even more questions.

Then again, if a student journalist could solve the conflict based on one trip, it wouldn’t be such a serious problem.

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