Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Home

I'll let you in on a little secret - officially I'm here in Israel to work with Bedouin women's organizations, but (here's the secret) I was kinda hoping to achieve peace in the Middle East while I was here.  When I've broached that topic with folks here, a common reply is "It's complicated".  I've spent some time trying to understand the complicating factors.  This past weekend I felt a glimpse.

As part of my journey to and through Israel, I've visited and slept in a variety of places.  I've slept on planes, trains, buses, and outside under an open-air tent.  I've spent the majority of my nights in the apartment I'm subletting in Beer Sheva.  I've visited friends and colleagues in their apartments.  Temporary places.

This weekend I visited and stayed with a Palestinian family in the village their family has lived in for generations.  As soon as I walked into their house (pictured above), I felt immediately at ease.  I was more relaxed than I've been at any point in my stay.  I hadn't realized how temporary those other places felt until I walked through their door - the door of the place they have lived, are living, and plan to keep living in for a very long time.  In other words, I felt a home.  Not my home, but a home.

That feeling helped me understand the heart of the conflict in this area.  Jews and Palestinians both want that feeling.  They both want to feel at home.  And they both believe they can only get that feeling from the same piece of geography.  This is not a great insight for most folks, but for me there's a difference between knowing something and feeling something.  And, thanks to the hospitality of this family, I feel like I understand the complicated situation more clearly.