Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Our Time in Arad

Today we painted the JCC. We had the opportunity to meet and interact with the high school students of Arad. After a long morning of work we were able to reflect on the complexity, impact, and deeper connections of our trip so far. We also talked about what we hope to do with our time here. We later met with the Sudanese men in their community center. They opened up to us and discussed their struggles as asylum seekers. They communicated that although most of the people of Arad are amiable, they have also been faced with discrimination in a multitude of ways in the city of Arad. From discussing their journey to Israel, to speaking on the language barriers they face, and their aspirations of furthering their education, the Sudanese men welcomed us with open arms. The Sudanese children also welcomed us with open arms as they ran to meet us in their neighborhood. We walked with them to their church and spent quality time with them playing games and doing arts and crafts. 

With a total of four days in Israel, learning about the different perspectives and layers to the situation of the asylum seekers, many in the group have come expressed a difficulty in deciding what is the best approach to solving the issue of discrimination towards asylum seekers in Israel. Through a series of meetings and discussions with local Israelis, we have seen that the issue and its solutions are not black and white and require a response at numerous levels and with different groups. One of the repeating themes when speaking of the issue of asylum seekers in Israel is the Jewish nation-democracy question that requires us to consider two very distinct topics that characterize Israel: can Israel truly maintain both it's identity asthe state for Jewish people and it's identity as a modern, democratic nation-state. These two identities, when viewing the issue of asylum seekers appears to show that Israel cannot comply to both, it cannot simultaneously maintain Israel as a country for Jewish people while also serving its responsibilities as a democratic state, such as protecting those in 
need (such as the refugees). Over the following days, we expect to continue learning about this issue 
and to hopefully remove some of the multiple layers that make this such a complex issue.

This blog post was written by Karen Flores Garcia and Bersabell Yeshitla.

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