Friday, 20 May 2011

Northern Tiyul

The way I recorded tiyul was writing up day-to-day on my ipod touch so it's a slightly different style entry but I’m going to copy them straight as they are.

Sunday 15th May
Sunday morning dawned and so did northern tiyul! One thing shnat has definitely taught me is that I am most definitely not a mooring person and the highly unnecessary 5:15 wake up in the morning was  not very impressive. Also, after somehow managing to defeat my childhood coach sickness on long journeys for the first seven months of Shnat, it returned with full vengeance on my trip to the Golan and has remained ever since. Anyhow, the first morning of northern tiyul consisted of clearing undergrowth in the Carmel forest to prevent more forest fires (this volunteering with the JNF apparently rewarded us with free accommodation). For lunch we headed to a Druze village in the Carmel mountains which was yummy of course and also heard about many of the bizarre Druze customs. The afternoon consisted of a short hike, or should I say amble, before heading to our campsite in  the forest for a very machonesque dinner and an Olympic themed peula which my group 'Afula' won!

Monday 16th May
I have a feeling that my Northern tiyul blog will be rather brief as I am exhausted 24/7. On Monday morning we went on a hike in Nahal Amun which started off as a short hike and ended with Haggai saying that we had seven minutes left and half an hour later we still weren't there! The hike involved a water pool stop and Tamara and I were the only girls that ventured in. After the hike we had lunch and headed to Safed for yet another two hour tour followed by free time at which point I somehow ended up hiking up hundreds of stairs...voluntarily!

Tuesday 17th May
After being bitten to death all night once again we awoke at 6.30 for breakfast and a coach trip to kibbutz misgav am, a Lebanon look-out point. From where we were sitting we could see the border itself and directly into Lebanon. One of the kibbutz 'security force' who had also fought as a paratrooper in four of Israel’s wars, a guy called Arieh, talked to us about the kibbutz and it's history. We happened to be sitting at the very same point we visited on tour, a place that was fixed in my mind as my tour memory of he Golan but I didn't actually remember anything about it. Afterwards we headed to something that had previously been described as tobogganing but was a form of alpine-coaster, effectively a theme park ride in the mountains. It was fun if a little bit scary. When we finished they told us that we were no longer going water rafting in the Jordan river, something we were all massively looking forward to. Instead we went to a shitty leisure centre to have lunch in the oppressive heat and swim in the yucky pool. Luckily there was also an ice rink which was mamash kef.
We returned home for dinner, an intriguing questions peula and a bonfire with marshmallows, sweet tea and baked potatoes.

Wednesday 18th May
A five thirty wake up for a for a six hour hike. Down a mountain, through an ice cold pool, clambering across rocks, abseiling down a waterfall, through another freezing cold pool fully clothed, across some more rocks and up the most horrendous vertical cliff face in history. It was fun and completed the first tiyul in which I have fully completed every single hike so I was rather proud of myself. Afterwards we just about had the energy for pizzur lunch and a brief visit to the Syrian look out point before heading home for showers and dinner and a 'party' at a nearby kibbutz club (where Romy and I played the boys at pool and won!).

Thursday 19th May
I largely slept through (or rather sleepwalked through) the mornings events, a trip to an army bunker lookout point into ___ and to the Kineret graveyard. We all woke up drastically however when we arrived at the chocolate factory at Deganya kibbutz where we participated in a all you can it chocolate decoration workshop leaving some people to clearly out-eat their limits. Afterwards we headed to about the tenth 'oh I came here on tour but had no idea where it was at the time' place for lunch and a swim in the kineret. This concluded Tiyul and with a final play of the Northern Tiyul rap we fell asleep on the buses and headed back to Jerusalem. 

Yom HaShoah, Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha'atmaut

My trip home was comforting, crazy, peaceful, hectic and most of all not nearly long enough. The minute I landed I felt as if I was already running out of time before I had to leave again and I feel like this made me put enormous pressure on myself to do all the things I wanted to do and get the most out of a very short space of time. The very second I heard Dylan had been born I knew I had made the right decision to go home. There was no way I was prepared to miss out on being there for the beginning of my gorgeous nephew's life. Writing this on Erev Yom HaZikaron I realise that he has already changed my perspective on many of the things I am experience in this place so near and yet in many ways so very far away from home.

I flew back to Israel the evening before Yom HaShoah (obviously on a flight of screaming babies) and after only 2 hours of waiting around and dropping other people off I arrived back at the Machon L'Madrachei Chutz L'Aretz. To my dismay I discovered I had missed not only the groups trip to Yad Vashem the previous week but also the Holocaust Survivor Speaker who people clearly felt was a very powerful speaker.

The next morning we had a Shoah Tekkes planned and run by a group of the Machoniks. It was well planned and sensitively written but the thing that I felt like I really connected to was when one of the girls stood up and told her grandmother's testimony. I think I've always felt some disconnection to Yom HaShoah, not in the sense that obviously I wasn't there but more to do with the personal nature of the connection many people have. Listening to this testimony, being told by a friend of mine about a family member of hers, made it much easier to even begin to comprehend what we were actually commemorating.

In the afternoon/evening we went to a big Yom HaShoah Tekkes at Yad Mordechai which I think we were all fairly disappointed at because the entire three hour ceremony took place in hebrew and was not at all what we expected it to be-in a bad way. I appreciate the validity of joining with Israeli society to celebrate and commemorate days alongside them but I distinctly felt like this was an impenetrable barrier for so many of us that we simply didn't connect.

Tuesday was my Jeremy Leigh morning starting with the elective 'Holocaust: Between Memory and Meaning' and followed by double 'Story of the Jewish People'. We also put to Jeremy the idea of a Netzer Bogrim trip to Poland in 2011 which is now in the process of developing as a potentially feasible idea. The afternoon was a pretty standard Tnua Time taking place at machon. The peula was on Israel and the Diaspora and to my dismay, as I completely forgot when I went home, it was my peula to plan alongside with two other people, one from Spanish Machon and one from Etgar. As it turned out the two of us (Hannah and myself) wrote the entire peulot the night before. This was our very brief outline but we ad-libbed a fair bit aswell, hence the missing content.

T'nua Time Peula: Israel and the Diaspora
Tuesday 3rd May 2011

  1. Does one need the other more
  2. Should the diaspora have a voice in Israeli Politics
  3. What can we actually DO to support/help Israel

Lior's Trigger 20mins
Leads into discussion about 'Does one need the other more?'

Split into 7 groups of 5: Look at statements (below) about events in Israel's history and if they think it is right or not
3 x 5 min discussions plus 3 x 3mins for explanations 24 mins

Together for group discussion on:
-How 'relevant' their opinions are considering they're not Israeli 10 mins
-Whether israel should listen to the 'Voice of the Diaspora'
-If not how can we be expected to defend them/support them
-Just because we are Jews does that give us a 'divine right' to interfere in Israel and the lives of Israelis

Operation Cast Lead
In response to a sharp increase in the number and frequency of rocket attacks into Israel prior to and following the expiration of Hamas' agreed period of "calm" on December 19, 2008, the Israeli Air Force launched Operation Cast Lead, consisting initially of airstrikes on December 27 against Hamas security installations, personnel, and other facilities in the Gaza Strip, followed on January 3 by ground operations. Hostilities between Israeli forces and Hamas fighters continued through January 18, and the Israeli withdrawal of troops was completed on 21 January 2009

Gaza Flotilla Raid
The Gaza flotilla raid also known as the flotilla incident of 31 May 2010,[5] was a military operation by Israel against six ships of the "Gaza Freedom Flotilla" on May 31, 2010 in international waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The flotilla, organized by the Free Gaza Movement and the Turkish Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (İHH), was carrying humanitarian aid and construction materials,with the intention of breaking Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip.On 31 May 2010, Israeli Shayetet 13 naval commandos boarded the ships from speedboats and helicopters. On the MV Mavi Marmara, clashes broke out after activists violently resisted. Nine activists were killed (Eight Turkishnationals and a Turkish-American), and dozens of activists and seven Israeli commandos were wounded. On three other ships, activists showed passive resistance, which was suppressed by Israeli forces without deaths or severe injuries, and two others were taken without incident. The activists were subsequently arrested and detained in Israel before being deported. Widespreadinternational condemnation of the raid followed, Israel-Turkey relations were strained, and Israel subsequently eased its blockade.

The Disengagement
2005 - Israel's unilateral disengagement
The Israel Defence Forces left the Gaza Strip on 1 September 2005 as part of Israel's unilateral disengagement plan, and all Israeli citizens were evicted from the area. An 'Agreement on Movement and Access' between Israel and the Palestinian Authority was brokered by Condaleezza Ricein November 2005 to improve Palestinian freedom of movement and economic activity in the Gaza Strip. Under its terms, the Rafah crossing with Egypt was to be reopened, with transits monitored by the Palestinian National Authority and the European Union. Only people with Palestinian ID, or foreign nationals, by exception, in certain categories, subject to Israeli oversight, were permitted to cross in and out. All goods, vehicles and trucks to and from Egypt had to pass through the Israeli crossing at Kerem Shalom, under full Israeli supervision. Goods were also permitted transit at the Karni crossing in the north.

Gilad Shalit's Capture
Gilad Shalitגלעד שליטborn 28 August 1986 is an Israeli soldier who was captured on 25 June 2006 by Hamas in a cross-border raid. He was captured near the Kerem Shalom crossing in Israel and has been held as a hostage at an unknown location in the Gaza Strip by Hamas since then.
-In this specific on-going situation what should Israel's response be?

Netzer Ideology platform (give one to each person) 5 mins
What's our role when we go home?

I found this particular hadracha experience extremely frustrating as despite the fact that we were dealing with a group of our friends and the supposed future leaders of the movement,certain people spent the entire peulot on their phone or doing a crossword whilst making rude comments, it just felt very contradictory.

Wednesday was a morning of Zionism and Israel and I found my core class much more interesting that usual which was good. In the afternoon we had Israel Activism Meoravut Session. This week Nick had brought in a speaker Avi Soffer to talk to us on our chosen topic for our big upcoming project. After much debate and controversy we decided on LGBT in Israel and so Avi came to speak to us as someone who runs 'Adam L'Adam' the social action branch of LGBT. It was a truly fascinating session and gave us lots to think about for our project including a participation and machon continingent at the massive Gay Pride March in Tel Aviv on May 10. no more details to be given away as our plan is forming to be quite interesting.

The evening was an erev peula run by Matan's Chavura based on a government conference setting which was very confusing but fun.

For the next bit I am going to insert my parents report for the week as, although it is less detailed and personal than I would like for my blog, I simply don't have the time or energy to write a description for the exact same week twice.

“Our week began (or should I say ended) last Thursday with a Yom Yisrael entitled 'Over the Green Line'. It began with a talk by Paul Liptz a Social Historian. He gave us a detailed history on Israel's relationship with the occupied territories from 1948 until today, touching on the major wars and the peace process. Afterwards we drove to the outskirts of Gilo (a settlement in on the outskirts of Jerusalem, over the Green Line but within the boundaries of the Municipality) and stood at a view point, effectively in no-man's-land, surveying the area that encompassed both Bethlehem and Beit Jala on one side of the security barrier and the barrier itself. Behind where we stood was a house belonging to an Arab who was not an Israeli citizen. Many machon-niks struggled to make sense of this situation where people had to travel several hours through a checkpoint to buy groceries in a supermarket in Bethlehem instead of one five minutes away in Gilo. At this observation point a woman from Machson watch spoke to us about the situation. She explained how the organisation surveys the checkpoints along the border and takes shifts to observe the behaviour of the soldiers and use their presence to put pressure on the soldiers to behave correctly when stopping people.. They also help people trying to gain Israeli citizenship who may have been previously 'black listed' for whatever reason. The next place we visited was Efrat, a Jewish settlement in the Judean Hills. Although Efrat has a totally Jewish and mainly religious population, it is unusual in its relations with its Arab neighbours. The Mayor, Mr Oded Ravivi, spoke to us about the area and the current political situation. He believed in the notion of one Jewish state, with Jews and Arabs living side by side peacefully, and claimed Efrat was a perfect example of how to achieve this. After lunch we headed to Hebron for the afternoon. We started our visit at the Cave of the Patriarchs (which we were surprised to discover didn't actually allow us to see the cave itself as it was below ground and after a few initial excavations, all exploration of the area was banned as it was so sacred). Following this, we walked to Shavey Hebron Yeshiva along the main road in the Jewish area of Hebron (H2) where there are currently 850 Jews, 250 of which live and study at the yeshiva. It was a very surreal experience and there was mixed emotion among the group – it felt like we were walking through a scene in the movie 'The Hurtlocker'. The area was entirely deserted, with all former Arab shops boarded up and abandoned, yet patrolled and guarded by soldiers from the IDF and observers from international human rights organisations. Once at the yeshiva, we had a fascinating opportunity to discuss with and question some of the Yeshiva boys on their views and decisions about studying in Hebron. All in all, the day was truly fascinating and presented a number of issues that we have been grappling with over the course of Shnat; For the northerners in particular, it was a very significant visit as we had begun discussing the issue of Jewish settlers in Hebron in a session on Kibbutz at the beginning of Shnat.Ever since, we have longed to visit and become better informed on and challenged by the complex situation at hand. Despite leaving the day with more questions and confusion than answers, it was a valuable and truly memorable day that I'm sure will remain with us for a long time in the future.

The next day all the Netzer Machoniks piled onto a bus with all the Etgarniks and headed to the Reform Mechina in Yafo. We spent the weekend discussing the preceeding and coming days of Yom HaShoah, Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha'atzmaut, finally getting a real opportunity to talk to Israelis our age, from a similar religious background and on a similar programme to us. The discussions taking place across the weekend followed a number of topics including joining the army, the Diaspora's voice in Israeli politics, the rights of Jews around the world and many, many other things. It was a fantastic weekend which we all thoroughly enjoyed and really gained insight into an Israeli perspective many of us could identify with. Throughout the weekend, as well as the peulot run by the Shnattie Tzevet, we had a lovely kabbalat shabbat service on the beach, with an extremely surprising number of similar tunes and songs between the two groups and some great opportunities for those of us who hadn't spent much time in Yafo to wander round. To top off the weekend, those of us on RSY found out our tsvatim for Shemesh this summer and we're all looking forward with great excitement to what the fast approaching summer after Shnat holds.

We returned to Kiryat Moriah and started classes again for the new week on Sunday morning. Sunday evening was the start of Yom HaZikaron, the day when Israel remembers, commemorates and honours its 22,867 fallen soldiers and 2,443 terror attack victims. In preparation for this we visited a Haredi Seminary in Jerusalem to talk to girls (and a Yeshiva for the boys) our own age about a variety of topics. At the Seminary everyone was extremely open to explain things about themselves and their beliefs and question others. In my group specifically the topics ranged from the 'dating' and marriage process, to what the Haredi girls wear to the gym, to G-d's existence when bad things happen to the acceptance (or lack thereof) of Progressive Jews in Israel. The Mifgash (encounter) went so well that many of the girls swapped email addresses to continue discussions later on. Afterwards we headed to Ammunition Hill for a Yom HaZikaron Tekkes put on by MASA in English for Gap Year students in Israel. The ceremony began with the siren ringing out across Israel at 8pm marking a one-minute silence and the beginning of the commemorative day – Remembrance Day. It was an extremely powerful tekkes, telling the individual stories of both civilians and soldiers who had lost their lives in the conflict. Clearly a ceremony intended to reach out to Jews from the diaspora and specific programs, a particularly poignant story to the machon-niks in particular was that of Nir Cohen, an israeli soldier who was a Rakaz at the Machon in Feb-June 2006 just before he was killed in the 2nd Lebanon War. On the morning of Monday 9th May we went to the National Yom HaZikaron Tekkes at the Military Cemetery on Har Herzl (Mount Herzl). Although many of us understood little of the ceremony itself, the sheer number of people present and the atmosphere was powerful enough. Being present at the site, which we had already visited earlier on Machon, made us feel more connected with the reality of the situation in Israel as the statistics were brought to life and we could see the number of people that each individual soldier had touched during their short lives. The day certainly had a great emotional impact on us.
Yom HaZikaron ended at 8pm on Monday night marking the beginning of Yom Haatzmaut, Independence Day. Israeli Independence Day is a national holiday in which Israelis celebrate the declaration of Independence by David Ben Gurion on May 14th 1948, the day before the British Mandate officially ended. This year Israel celebrates 63 years of independence. That evening many of us piled onto buses and headed to Tel Aviv, specifically to Florentine, to celebrate in true Israeli style at one of the biggest Independence day street parties. There were fireworks, flags and for some reason a great deal of white foam being sprayed around but it was a great night and fantastic experience.

The transition between the sobriety of Yom HaZikaron and the joyousness of Yom Ha'atzmaut is difficult for us to understand and cope with emotionally– despite experiencing it. The decision for the two days to run in succession was a deliberate one so as to ensure that before the nation celebrates the people first stop to remember and commemorate victims of terror and those who gave their lives to defend the state, its independence and its freedom.”

Although this past week has been challenging and emotionally draining, it is an integral part of facing life in Israel, a very complex state, and therefore a pivotal part of our Shnat journeys. We're looking forward to next week, not returning to classes but embarking on a new journey... Northern Tiyul!!”

The weekend previously to Tiyul Aaron and I spent relaxing in Herzliya ending when I met up with Pops as he arrived in Israel on the Saturday night and we went to dinner at the most bizarre French restaurant ever.