Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Social Justice, Human Rights, and a Massive, Terrifying Spider

Today we met with Anat who works at a social justice organization called Shatil (partially funded by the New Israel Fund) that focuses on promoting human rights for all Israelis. They do work with gender issues, poverty, Arab/Israel relations, and much more. Anat is the coordinator for a social justice fellowship that takes post-college Jewish adults to Israel for a year to intern at a NGO of their choice. Nadav, a fellow who we were privileged to meet with, has spent the past 10 months working at an organization called Sikkuy, which focuses on equal rights and treatment of Arab Israelis. The most interesting and unique thing about this organization is that it is run and staffed by an equal amount of Jewish Israelis and Arab Israelis. Every single project they work on they all agree upon, and they have both Jews and Arabs working together. 

After learning about the fellowship and Nadav's experience, we headed over to an organization called B'Tselem. On our way there, we decided to walk about two blocks past it, and were able to see the fence separating Israel from the West Bank. Bt'selem is a human rights organization focused on restoring the human rights of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. We met with an International Relations Associate, Noam, who told us all about the organizations work. We learned so much about the West Bank and the living conditions there. One of the things that we found most interesting and innovative was a project they have been working on for a few years now, where they give out hundreds of video cameras to Palestinians in the West Bank and asked them to record parts of their daily lives, including injustices committed towards them by the IDF and Jewish settlers. She showed us a few videos that stunned us, and explained that their organization simply believes that everyone is created "bt'selem elohim- in God's image" and therefore Israel must push to restore the human rights of Palestinians, as well as the legality and accountability on the IDK and Jewish settlers. All of their research, as well as videos and interactive maps, can be found on their website. 

Then, we headed over to the biblical zoo to have some fun and look at the cute animals! After getting COMPLETELY lost in Jerusalem, we finally found our way! There we saw some really adorable animals, as well as the biggest spider in the world- Andrew was terrified. 

All in all, we had a great day, and are very happy to still be awake at 6pm! Dinner and bed soon. Stay tuned for more tomorrow about our adventures rappelling into caves and exploring them. Peace.

-Liat and Andrew 

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