Posted on February 13, 2013 by Laurie Franklin
Last semester, Meesh Hammer-Kossoy’s Social Justice class made a visit to Lakiya, a recognized Bedouin village, and Sderot, a city well known for its 12-year history as a target for projectile strikes from Gaza.
In Lakiya, we visited Sidreh-Lakiya Negev Weaving, a nonprofit that advocates for Bedouin women and their families by providing economic development and educational opportunities. A young Bedouin woman spoke to us about Bedouin life. I was impressed by her determination, intelligence and attachment to the land where she lives. I also heard her anger about policies of Israel towards Bedouins and Palestinians. We also had an opportunity to view and buy woven crafts from the weaving shop.
At the main police station in Sderot, we viewed a sobering collection of missiles that have fallen on the city. A representative of the Sderot Media Center arranged several encounters with local residents that gave us a sense of the psychological toll of living with daily danger. Last, we visited a small urban kibbutz and heard from a member who expressed discomfort with oppositional framing of the conflict between Israel and its Palestinian residents and neighbors, despite his family’s close calls with missiles. In Sderot, as in Lakiya, we heard the residents’ deep attachment to the ground on which they live.
Our class visits to Lakiya and Sderot help me understand the complexities of contemporary Israeli life. When I return to Montana, I can express a Zionism that is nuanced by an appreciation of many voices in Israeli society, a view informed by hearing personal accounts from many perspectives.