Today, we went to the Judea Samaria part of Israel, also known as the West Bank, or the disputed territories. It’s a fairly vast area peppered with small towns. Some of those are Arab Palestinian towns…others are Jewish towns. Some of the Arab towns are really run down. Others are fancy. I’m told that’s because money from Palestinians in America and other countries is being sent in to build them up. Many of the Jewish cities are being built up fast too. You can see the cranes next to the buildings and varying levels of construction.
We toured a factory that makes plastic bathroom items and employs Jewish and Arab Palestinians…..They say both groups get the same benefits and are paid the same too. They let us talk to a Palestinian worker…but his bosses were right there…so I’m not sure how candid he was …but he did say he liked his job . We went to a small winery in the area which made excellent wine. The Jewish owner has been working the land since 1998. We ate on an organic farm that has a watchtower and round the clock guards and surveillance cameras.
Where it gets tricky is the Israelis are building a lot in this area and even building on empty hilltops and that has a lot of people mad because they think this will make it harder to have two state solution to the Palestinian/Arab conflict.
For now, these two groups seem to get along for the most part….they want to work and feed their families just like us. I talked to a 24 year old Jewish man who grew up in a settlement (don’t call it the West Bank he says). He played soccer and went to school with Palestinians and that they’re his friends. But, there are incidents that sprout up where the Jewish settlers have been killed. We went to one house where the whole family was killed by some Muslim teenagers who didn’t want Jews living there. They broke into their house during the night and killed the mom and dad and a three month old baby. That was less than a year ago. Those teens were sentenced to five life terms in prison this very week.
The journalists and citizens and government officials I talked to agree this problem isn’t going to end soon. Both Jews and Muslims say they have religious roots in this area and they’re not leaving. A few people also told me that most of the people who live there want to live in peace, but it is the Palestinian leadership that is fueling the hatred and ultimately, that leadership will be the one that makes the decision. They also use Gaza as an example. The Jews pulled out of Gaza and they are still dealing with missiles being shot over the fence into Israel.
Tags: Judea Samaria;Israel