Many Americans are raised with the knowledge of the occurring violence and hatred within Israel. We may side with either the Palestinians or the Israelis, yet the violence has become so common we hardly blink at the mention of new atrocities within the country.

But what of those that actually live there?

I must admit that I don’t always humanize these situations. An Israeli woman living in Missoula opened my eyes to the reality that cannot be taught.

I met Dalit in order to learn a little more about her home country. She was born in Tel Aviv near the university. After completing her undergraduate degree at Tel Aviv University and mandatory military service, she came to the University of Montana for graduate school in environmental studies. Soon she found herself married and living in Missoula where she raises her young children.

I was curious as to why she left her home country in the first place. When I asked the question, she paused for a moment and then said the conflict was overwhelming. “Everyday you’d wake up and feel helpless against the struggle,” she said.

I had to ask the obvious question that eats at everyone’s curiosity: do you see an end to this conflict coming any time soon? She shook her head and said that peace would need to be forced from above. “The people will not come to peace organically,” she said.

Even with all the turmoil, Israelis and Palestinians find some situations in which they can work together. While studying in Israel, Dalit attended the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies for one year. She said the institute invited Israelis, Palestinians, and Jordanians to break political borders and work on solutions to their common environmental problems. One problem she described concerned the pollution coming out of Israel that caused asthma cases to increase in Jordan.

While the idea of working on a common problem sounds hopeful in the question of peace, Dalit assured me it’s not. She said as part of the program at the institute, the students must take a class about living together. “It was a very tense and emotional class,” she said. Dalit added that everyone in the class stuck to their deep-rooted thinking. She said most of the other Israelis could only think along the lines of “{Israel} is ours.”

Dalit said she would argue that as long as she had a homeland, she could care less about its location. “Let them {Palestinians} have Israel,” she said. Her classmates’ reply: “but it’s ours.”

Because the class conversations never progressed, Dalit left the Arava Institute very pessimistic about her country’s future. Despite these doubts, she praises the institute and calls it an amazing program. While it may not mean any move toward peace between Palestinians and Israelis, at least they can find common ground and work together to better their environment.


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