By the time this blog post publishes, we will, if all goes according to plan, be back in the U.S. and our time in Palestine will have come to an end. It's been a challenging and adventurous 28 months here. With the ongoing conflict and occupation, it can be hard to stay hopeful about Palestine's future, but there is hope. I want to leave Palestine with hope that the people here will one day be free, and that the conflict will come to a peaceful and just resolution. To share that hope with you, I've compiled a brief list of links and reasons why I have hope for Palestine. These five (mostly non-political) things give me reason to be optimistic about this place.
1. The Arc
Many people in Palestine hope for a one-state solution to the conflict: a single, democratic state where all people can live freely in equality no matter their race or religion. While I think that idea is wonderful, I see it as unlikely. I think a toxic amount of racial injustice would result if the two countries were to become one and it would be very difficult for everyone to have equal opportunities because of the history here. However, perhaps it's better to try and face those obstacles than not try at all. A second-best and still hopeful option would be a two-state solution, with a free and independent Palestine living in peace with Israel.
Enter the Arc. The Arc is part of a plan for the physical infrastructure a successful Palestinian state would need. Created by the Rand Corporation, The Arc gives an important and inspiring vision for a thriving Palestine. Check out the 9-minute overview video here. It's worth a watch. More resources on the Arc are available here.
2. Occupied Pleasures
Photographer Tanya Habjouqa is capturing some amazing images of Palestine and Palestinians. From photos of the head-to-toe covered women of Gaza to images of belly-dancing Palestinian drag queens in East Jerusalem, her work is diverse and fascinating. Most importantly, the images reveal the deep humanity of a much-misunderstood group of people.
3. An Israeli Soldier Speaks
This compelling talk by former Israeli soldier Eran Efrati will give you an inside view into what it's like to be an Israeli soldier occupying Palestine and having the earth-shattering realization that you're "on the wrong side of history." His emotional, heart-breaking, and at times funny speech allows us to see what the conflict is like up close on the ground from both sides. It really is a must-watch, revealing talk. To read more soldier testimonies, check out the book Our Harsh Logic.
4. Juthour Arboretum
From the website "Juthour Arboretum in Ramallah offers a natural reserve where we preserve native trees and plant species, working through educational programs and eco tourism to model and encourage greater individual and communal responsibility towards our threatened natural environment and heritage in Palestine." This eco-park was started by our friends and neighbors in Ramallah, Palestine. I've visited and hiked its terraces many times with Jelly Bean. They've put an incredible amount of work into saving trees so that Palestine's natural heritage will not be forgotten or destroyed by the many threats to it such as the occupation, violent extremist settlers, over-development, construction dumping, and littering. Check out and support what they are doing, especially if you care about preserving the natural beauty of Palestine.
5. The People
I've met some incredible people here, resilient people who have an amazing ability to keep going and maintain hope in the face of an under-occupation experience ranging from the utter monotony of three hours of checkpoint traffic to the overwhelming brutality of missile strikes on civilians in Gaza. To read more about the people we've met here, check out some of the posts in the Palestine category.