Beyond the Headlines
Trip Start Sep 15, 2010
29Trip End Jul 23, 2011
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I didn't have a lot of outward expectations prior to arrival. However, I've been surprised by my reactions on an inner level. Namely, trying to understand the vast differences between the role of men and women. Yet, over time I am slowly starting to realize it is not my place to judge or change these circumstances.
As for the unwanted attention, it's far better to let it roll off your back or laugh. For example, when walking with my friend Laus, sometimes men would say things like "hi, sexy" or "nice body." Laus would jump in and say "Why, thank you!" It would take a minute for the guy to realize what had happened and then he would start shouting down the street, "No, no, not him
On a political level, there are many layers of the conflict. Yet through conversations, one thing is clear - there has been great loss on all sides ... including the family I lived with. Shafiq was Antoinette's nephew. He lived downstairs seven years ago. As the eldest son of three, he started working at Cafe Hillel in order to help his family financially. One late Tuesday evening a father and daughter were seated in his section. They were having one last heart-to-heart talk before her wedding the following day. That night, they were all three killed by a suicide bomber.
I can't begin to imagine the devastation these families experienced. But it does show that no one, regardless of race, age or wealth, has been immune from the violence. And just like 99.99% of the population, all these families want is to live in peace.
In conclusion, it has been seeing my colleagues work behind the scenes that has given me the greatest hope. As Israelis and Palestinians with varying points of view, it has been inspiring to watch them work side by side. Margaret Meade once said, "Never doubt a small group of people can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has." For me, they are a living testament that peace is possible.