Kevin, Germany

December 19, 2011

My first question would be, if you believe that there will be one day peace between the Arabs and Israel?

My second question is: As I have read that you like to travel, what are the experiences you made with people, if you are telling them that you are an Israeli?

Hey Kevin,

As far as your second question‪,‬ I have to say that I ha‬ve received all types of reactions‪,‬ depending on the time and place of course‪.‬

From my experience it had a lot to do with religion, culture of the country, and also to the level the country I am in is aware of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

For example, about two years ago I was in Puerto Rico, and every time I told locals I was from Israel they were really excited, telling me that their god is from Israel. Now as Puerto rico is mostly christian population it might have contributed to creating a positive emotion towards israel or a sense of some deeper connection to the Jewish people‪.‬

However I also have the opposite,‬ after the flotilla events in 2010, I was traveling Panama and for about two weeks the event was making major headlines, portraying Israel in a very negative way. It had a great effect on me and other Israeli backpackers in the sense that I felt uncomfortable to say I was from Israel. More than that, after a few hostile reactions from random people such as a cab driver and a seller in the market, I no longer said I was Israeli and avoided having any discussion on that matter, although I love my country, If it made me feel unsafe I rather not answer.

In mexico I met this american couple from Alabama who had no idea where israel even is but they did hear about it once :).

I guess it really varies and I have experienced an entire spectrum of responses but what I keep telling myself when I travel, is that people around the world hear a very small part of our reality here in Israel. Like you mentioned, its mostly what they are expose to by the international media. I cannot control that, but what I can control is my own attitude and so when in foreign places I try to connect with people as much as I can and make new friend so that the next time they hear about israel, even if it comes in a negative connotation, they can remember they made a friend and learn to separate politics from actual people.

Regarding the question of believing in peace, I can say whole heartedly that there isn’t anything I wish more for‪”‬ this country than peace. And as an israeli citizen I wait for that day with anticipation and wish that it arrive sooner than later. Having said that, I have to stay realistic and acknowledge that before peace can be achieved, both israelis and palestinians will have to make some compromises.

The UN General Assembly established on Nov 29th, 1947 proposed the formation of two states, coexisting, a jewish state and an arab state. the jews agreed to the division, the palestinians however did not. Why? there is a very fundamental issue that i see as the main reason for us being unable to achieve peace, and that is: the refusal of the arab palestinian side to acknowledge a jewish state. And since 1947 till this day, not one leader of the palestinian authority was willing to accept the existence of a jewish state on the land of Israel. Or even acknowledge the jewish people’s right to their own independent state.

If the palestinians can agree that 1)there is a jewish people 2)the jewish people  have a historic connection to this land, and  3) they have the right to self determination- then we will be able to start a true process of achieving peace. And with serious negotiations we might even find an agreeable compromise.

I hope that one day the israeli-palestinian conflict will end and we reach true peace and will be able to safely coexist, a jewish state along side a palestinian one.

Leaving under a constant treat an not knowing when the next war start is not an enjoyable situation for either nations. But if there is ever going to be peace, both side cannot get everything they want. You cannot achieve peace by delegitimatizing and ignoring the rights of the other side.

Thank you for your question,

Lirut

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