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[written by participant 'Schway']:
So I know I have not written in a while, my bad. Well this whole conflict is bad. I mean seriously, living and learning here changes things. I have been processing much of my experience in the last week. My perspective has changed a bit since my last post. It is difficult to explain the emotional and academic experience that has become a vital part of my journey here. But I will start with the trip we took to Hebron.
[an article published on PNN by participant 'Schway'. Original article here: http://english.pnn.ps/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=10329&Itemid=63]
[a post by participant AA]:
On the 3rd of July, PSE went to Hebron. It is the epitome of the occupation, of the apartheid system, of the hate that can be regenerated and encouraged.
After the intensity of Hebron, PSE had the final two private lectures with Mark Braverman, covering the importance of theology and where to from here.
A rare and precious aquifer, surrounded by barbed wire fencing and Israeli flags; an eight meter high concrete wall cutting through northern Bethlehem; the Israeli settlement dominating the view from my host family’s balcony (not to mention nearly everywhere else in Bethlehem and Beit Sahour). These are some of the daily reminders I have that the land in which I’m currently living, and will be living for the next few weeks, is under military occupation. However one would never know it just by interacting with the local Palestinian populace.
Hello from Bethlehem, where we are two weeks into our second session of PSE! This session we have 22 new participants, bringing the grand total to 35 participants. We started out the session with a group trip to Jerusalem, where we first met with Rabbi Arik Ascherman from Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR). He spoke to the group about the advocacy work done by RHR on behalf of Palestinians and the divisions within the religious community of Israel. After that, we took a tour of the Old City of Jerusalem and visited various religious sites in the area.
I've been lucky enough to volunteer in the Aida Refugee Camp with the Aida Youth Club. I say "lucky" for a very specific reason. When me and my fellow volunteer arrived at the camp this past Monday, we noticed how run down the camp is. We arrived and the director of the center, Kareem, gave us the presentation he gives most of his visitors. He told us the history behind the 1948 Nakba, when and how the camp was established and developed from tents to solid structures, and the hardships faced by the people in the camp.
Greetings and ahlan wa sahlan to you from the wrong side of the Wall! I'm sure most people would consider Bethlehem here on the Palestinian side of the separation wall as standing on the wrong side of the safety rope, but for the next month or two over thirty of us intrepid PSE travelers will be calling it "home." To be in what can be such a controversial place, I am surprised at the busy pace that surrounds me every day on my way to volunteer, to class, back home, and while exploring with friends.
The past week was a mix of emotion and placement. The first place was of beauty.
We went by bus through Beit Jala and across one of the Israeli roads that cut across the West Bank to get to the ancient village of Battir. It is a little piece of heaven, and a place under threat. To get a small sense of what it is like here, I found a great Youtube clip: