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Sunday, February 18th, 2018

This post was brought to you by Jocelyn G and Bruce M…

Today we left Tel Aviv and drove north along the coast to Atlit.  Atlit was a British detainee camp that was established in the late 1930’s to prevent Jewish refugees from entering British Palestine. Tens of thousands of Jewish refugees were interned at the camp during and after WWII.  Though little of the original camp remains, the museum had constructed a series of life sized dioramas (a processing shed, a barrack, a transport ship) to try to convey the experience of fleeing the Nazi camps and ending up detained on a similarly looking camp run by the British.

From Atlit we spent late morning touring the Jewish artists colony in Ein Hod and enjoying an overly abundant lunch in the  Arab Ein Hawd.  Between the two Ein’s we tried to tease out the story of how the Arabs had abandoned the village, the artists had started their colony, and the Arabs had established a new village higher up in the valley. Is it an “abandoned” village if the Israeli army attacked it three times?  Do you leave an Arab village alone during the civil war if there is shelling of the main coastal road from the hills?  What does it mean to be an unrecognized village?  Why does it take 40 years to get a road and 50 to get electricity?  And not to diminish the previous troubling questions, we left wondering how the HaBayit restaurant could release a cookbook so we could revisit their cooking.

Our last stop of the day before leaving the coast and heading inland to Nazareth was Juha’s Guesthouse and Tours in the Arab fishing village of Jisr az Zarqa. Juha’s Guest House is a social business begun by Ahamad Juha, a Palestinian living in Israel and Neta Hanien, an Israeli Jew. Upon our arrival,  we were introduced to two people: the student leader Mahmoud and Genevieve Begue, the Educational Manager of the “Youth Leaders”– the youth leadership program in Jisr az Zarqa.  Youth Leaders empowers local kids by teaching them English and training them to guide tours in English in the village.

Early in our discussion, Genevieve explained that Jisr az Zarqa has been a community isolated from other Arab communities that stigmatized the town due to its Bedouin origins and collaboration with the Zionists prior to the 1948 Israeli War of Independence. The years of isolation from other Arab communities and surrounding wealthy Jewish communities left residents despairing of the possibility of new economic opportunity.  Juha’s Guesthouse has become the center of a web of new community energy and new relationships and opportunities for the village – drawing in international hikers walking the Israel National Trail, Israelis wanting to enjoy the beautiful stretch of beach and groups like us interested in learning about models for Palestinian-Jewish relationship building.

During our discussion, Genevieve shared that her graduate studies in Peace and her experience over the last four years in Jisr has made her realize that the concept of coexistence was not working as a construct to resolve Jewish-Palestinian conflict. A better focus is relationship building– it is more important and effective to focus on getting to know one another by listening and building commonalities— and when disagreements arise, we agree to disagree”

After a walk from the guest house to Jizr’s beautiful stretch of beach, we watched the sunset and then boarded our bus to Nazareth.

For More info on Jisr az Zarqa, see Neta Hainen’s TEDx talk at:https://youtu.be/ZdNcOy_eAB0

Bruce and Jocelyn