Yesterday evening I got into a conversation with an Israeli guy, also staying at the hostel. As was my plan for this trip, I enquired about his views on the country, the history and the current situation.
He is a student at the Jerusalem university and described his political position as left-liberal.
He gave me an overview of the political situation which has parties ranging from the secular on one end to the ultra-orthodox on the other. The ultra-orthodox don’t even approve of Israel at the moment, as they believe the state should be re-created only when the Messiah returns.
When asked about a possible solution to the ongoing tension, he said that he doesn’t see one at the moment. Both Israelis and Palestinians lack trust for each other and are simply not ready for a next step. He compared it to young kids and marriage – they are not mature enough for it.
In addition, both Israelis and Palestinians are by far not united among themselves. Israelis are split into secular and religious groups and in addition into European (Ashkenazi) and Arab (Mizrahi) origin Jews.
The Palestinians have a tribal structure and even towns like Hebron have several groups of power that are by far not united.
During the chat he mentioned that both Israel and Palestinians have made mistakes in the past, that undermined the trust. Asked about Israel’s mistakes, he thought for a moment and then mentioned the settlements in the West Bank.
What he was very clear about as well was that Palestinians are not willing to compromise or accept Israeli offers, and instead rely on European support to increase pressure on the US-backed Israel. He gave the example of kids with stones versus tanks – pretty much everybody will sympathise with the kids…
The above is not based on my own research but simply a recollection of the young man’s opinion.
In other news: Took a day of from diving today. Needed some rest and my dive operator closed for Shabbat anyway.
I spent about 2-3 hours talking to a Ukrainian immigrant (now Israeli citizen) over lunch and a lot of what he told me lined up with the chat from the previous evening.
Something they both pointed out is that Israel has major issues with immigration from Africa, just as Europe does. And just like Europe, they reacted by strengthening their borders. The Egypt border a few kilometres south of Eilat was not more than a line in the sand ten years ago, but is now fortified.
In the evening I got itchy feet and went for a hike in the nearby mountains. It was a cool day with temperatures in the low 30s but still – sweaty thing that hike.