This will be the last post regarding the trip from Israel (at least for now!) and I wanted to close with some of the students’ last reflections and humorous comments about the trip:
Most people said I was a little crazy for heading to Israel in my first trip out of the country but what more could I ask for? We went to meetings and museums, saw Roman ruins, and spent time at the beach. I was feeling pretty good about my knowledge of the region both from my own studies and from the preparation I had from the first few weeks of class. After patting myself on the back on the way over, almost as soon as we landed I realized what a neat little box I had placed around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Needless to say, the conflict is anything but.
Listening to Ir Amin speak on the second day I learned that the conflict is complicated. I knew my mind was being opened when I heard Joe Perlov say “I hate the fence, thank God for the fence,” and I actually understood it. At the Parent’s Circle meeting, Robi taught us that the conflict is deteriorating the moral character of Israel and the proof is in the rising levels of drunk driving and domestic violence. The man at the Arab Center for Policy talked about the Israeli-Arabs who have so many domestic and discrimination issues overshadowed by the conflict. Even the extremely petite women who took us on our tour of Haifa Law School spoke about their experiences in the IDF. What I thought I knew turned out to be the smallest sliver of reality; it affects so many people in so many ways. This conflict consumed almost every conversation and meeting we had in Israel, but no one seems to know how to end it. The one thing everyone did agree on was that a solution is necessary and the sooner the better. The trip gave me an entirely new perspective on what is happening in that part of the world, and although completely exhausting, it was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
For me, the best moment was a moment of reflection in the executive suite of the InterContinental Hotel toward the end of the trip when we were unexpectedly given extra time to reflect on the absolutely insane but phenomenal few preceding days. [ed. note–this was when our flight was cancelled and the airline put us up at the InterContinental.] Not only had the entire trip in general been an exhilarating experience, but it had also given to me one of the things I had been seeking since my matriculation into law school, a sense of group unity and reaffirmed self identity. I have to admit, at first I was quite scared about what I would find when we landed in Israel and simply going was a conquering of my fear of the unknown. However, I am exceedingly happy that I decided to follow through because it was through this experience that I was able to realize one of the things that I had been seeking since I started law school, namely that sense of camaraderie or unity with a group of people in the law school. Finally finding one such experience after three years of searching made me breathe a sigh of relief. In exploring Israel’s continuing journey toward discovering its own identity and place in the world, I have been able to discover some of my own identity. I experienced many of the incredibly complex facets that make up the Israeli culture, I shared many exciting “firsts” with likeminded individuals, and I was allowed to experience the difficult complexities that make up some of Israel’s most pressing issues. I saw people at their best … and I saw people at their worst. It was being able to observe and partake in this entire gamut of emotion that made this a truly once in a lifetime experience.
And for one of the funniest memories from one of the students: “When we were walking the Via Dolorosa a man came up to me and gave me his pizzeria’s business card and assured me that this was where Jesus ate pizza!”