I am an environmentalist. A supporter of Black Lives Matter. A chocolate lover. A Jew. A zionist. A woman. An artist. All of these characteristics separate me from the rest and create my own identity. During the four day Icnext seminar I learned more about who I am and what I am passionate about.
Before these seminars I thought I had a good Idea of the values of Israel and the Jews in the homeland. I thought that a Jewish value is to let the stranger come into our home for food and shelter, as it is said in the Torah. In the seminar I I learned that refugees who were seeking asylum in Israel were not always welcomed with opened arms. Yet, Jews, half-Jews, or anyone who is somewhat related to a Jew, are automatically granted citizenship in Israel. Even if they aren’t being persecuted.
As a kid I saw Israel as a safe haven and a place of political justice, where all people are being treated equally. It tore me apart when Elliot Glassenberg spoke of how the lgbtq marriages are not recognized by the rabbinate. They are people too! Who just want to be married in a place of unity and their fellow community of Jews. Elinoy Kisslove was another one of our speakers, she is a graffiti artist who demonstrates her opinions through her art. She told us how a female Israeli soldier was spit on because she sat at the front of the bus instead of the back of the bus. Elinoy’s actions with her art pushed me to start creating stencils to make graffiti art of my own. People can become united through graffiti
I learned about the politics of Israel. That there are religious and ancestral connections for the Muslims, Jews, Christians, Israelis, and Palestinias. There is such an array of cultures that plans like the Trump peace plan make it difficult for there to be a compromise. For a majority of the Jews in the state, they want Israel to remain a Jewish state, meaning that they have to have a higher percentage of the population.The Gaza strip is densely populated, the Palestinians may have a better life in Israel, but that will change the overall demographic of Israel and it may not be a Jewish state. This perplexing situation made me question what a Jewish state really is. Is it a place only for Jews or for Jewish values? There is still a rift between the Israelis and Palestinians, whose land is it? Residents of Israel have to constantly be aware of bomb warnings. While Palestinians in Gaza have to deal with the constant fear of being ruled by Hamas.
Israel is a self starting country, and Israelis will continue to build themselves up. As Jews living outside the country of Israel we have the duty to support Israel and be aware of the changes that are occurring in our sisterland. We may all have a different identity, but we are part of the same community. We are Jews.