"As you know, I recently had the pleasure of going to Israel on a 10-day Leadership summit. The purpose of the trip was to expose us to the ground-level conflict between the Israeli people and the Palestinian people. Our voyage started in a hospital in the northern part of Israel, where we learned about the humanitarian efforts the hospital did when the borders between Israel and Syria were still open, and the safety precautions that the hospital has.
We went to the church of the beatitudes after this and I witnessed the beauty of the landscape. Looking at this marvelous sight, I was captivated. I wanted to stay there forever. I wanted everyone, and especially those close to me, to see the view I was witnessing, the cobblestone and tile glistening with water, the gentle rolling of the waves in the sea of Galilee, the plant life and the attention to design of the church, it was all immaculate.
As the trip went on and as the group and I saw more and more of the beautiful country, something felt a little off to me. I did not know much at all about the conflict in the middle east, aside from a few conversations with friends, and the shallow ramblings of bleeding hearts on social media, so I could not understand why people were fighting and dying over a country so beautiful, so sacred. I got a better picture of the conflict when upon arriving at Givat Haviva, a place for Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs to meet. There we talked with Palestinians with Israeli citizenship about their thoughts on the cause of the conflict and if they foresee it ending soon. They told us the main source, they believed, was the segregation that goes on in Israel. Granted, I cannot read Hebrew, but I had seen no signs that said certain people could not go certain places, nor had the tour guide, who was very informative and open, told us about it. I knew these people were telling the truth when they said that the first time when they had seen an Israeli Jewish person was upon arriving there. This was reaffirmed by an Israeli Military Official said the first time in his life he ever met a Palestinian was when he was searching a Palestinian man at the border.
So these two groups of people, in a country one-third the size of Lake Michigan, never meet each other and consequently have nothing to dispel the propaganda they hear about the other group on a daily basis. It really ate away at me how people in an area this small could go their whole life without truly knowing their neighbors, but then I looked inside, and realize that I do the same.
I realized that my friend group is not at all diverse, and I have not tried to diversify it. Do I have a solution for the conflict in the middle east? Of course not, that problem is out of my range and scope to solve, and any solution I would have is not honest, as I don’t live there. This trip made me think a lot about the problems we face as an American society. We have these wonderful Google machines, that let us know everything at the click of a button, but we do not, and never have, taken the opportunity to get to honestly know each other. To have a future where peace is achieved, all sides need to make an honest effort to learn about each other and fix past wrongs. It may not happen in my lifetime, and that’s okay as this goal gives me something to spend my life working towards."
Parts edited briefly for grammar & clarity.