Looking at a map of Palestinian towns before 1948
As the year progresses, Community in Action participants began to delve more deeply into issues relating to the conflict.
In early April, the two groups went on the tour "From Jaffa to Beirut", guided by Zochrot. The tour started in Jaffa, in what used to be the Manshiyeh neighborhood that was destroyed in 1948, continued in Nesher, which was built on the ruins of the village of Balad al-Sheikh, and ended in Iqrit, formerly a Christian Palestinian village that was destroyed and occupied by the Israeli military and where Palestinian activists are now working towards return. In Nesher, participants were asked by locals what they were doing there, and when they responded that they came to learn about what happened in 1948, locals seemed confused and said that "there was nothing here". At the end of the tour, the guide asked the group us to imagine a different, less segregated future, in which the kind of life that existed and was ruined could be re-established on this land.
And the active learning continued. In their second and last seminar, the Community in Action group made its way to Jerusalem. Adam, a group participant, wrote the following reflection:
The journey in Jerusalem began with mixed feelings. Every step you take has some meaning; every place you see and pass through has its own quiet struggle.
We spent the first day, which was a Friday, in the Muslim Quarter. As we passed through the crowded area near Al-Aqsa Mosque, and saw policemen standing there in every corner, the same question kept creeping into my mind: Why? Maybe I'm naive, or maybe there really is no good reason. From there we moved on to observe the settlements and synagogues in the neighborhood. We realized the extent to which the Muslim Quarter is under the constant threat of the occupation. We saw a march of Orthodox Christians in celebration of Easter. Maybe not everything that happens in the Muslim Quarter has a political significance.
We continued on to the Western Wall, but not before we went through a security check.Six minutes later we saw the entrance. It was the first time I stepped a foot there. There was no special revelation there, except maybe I expected it to be bigger. From there we went to the City of David. Before you enter the pretty area, you are greeted with dilapidated building, and the whole compound is run by a settlers' organization. Some people find it beautiful. This is where we concluded the tour.
From there we went to Sheikh Jarrah, where residents are under threat of deportation. We talked to one of the people whose house was in the midst of legal proceedings towards evacuation, and then accompanied him to a demonstration against the evacuation. We marched and shouted in Hebrew, Arabic and English.
On the second day, we started in the center of Jerusalem. We went to Independence Park and spoke with two activists: a Palestinian and a Jew. They both talked about the role of the activist with all its complexities. After a fascinating conversation we continued on our way into the Armenian Quarter. The Armenian people are very interesting and have a unique history. We learned about a part of Jerusalem that we knew nothing about, and it was "refreshing" to listen to other problems in this city than the occupation.
This long journey undoubtedly inspired us with ideas and questions. In the end, we did return to Tel Aviv, but make no mistake – our struggle has just begun, and our journey still continues.
We hope that you, too, like the Community in Action participants, feel inspired to keep taking steps in new directions, and learning about the struggles held in different places!
Exploring the Armenian Quarter in Jerusalem
The group protesting in Sheikh Jarrah