Women in Bastan Village, Kurdistan

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

One month in Haifa between Beauty, Friendship and Identity Crisis--Haifa, Israel 09-29-10

Its been one month here in Haifa. It feels like I came yesterday. Yet, I have found it difficult to write about the politics of living in Haifa and on top of that, I am starting to have an identity crises. I work with Arab/Palestinian/Christian women. I live in the Arab neighborhood. I interact with Jewish/Israelis everyday. I ride the bus everyday to work with Israelis and I buy in Israeli/Russian market. I hang out with Arab/Palestinians, we always meet in Massada St. a kind of bohemian, colorful, street, full of cafes, where all the activists gather. Is really nice and the prices are lower. I have also have met some Jewish/Israelis and it is a challenge for me to listen to them with my heart open.

(1) Massada Street, Haifa

(2) A Bar/Restaurant in Massada Street

My Palestinian friends don't feel part of this country. They don't feel comfortable in a place full of people that have a different life style, and a different perception of them. People who think that they should go to Jordan, Egypt or Syria and that do not acknowledge the fact that they were also born here. They feel the discrimination when they are going to look for jobs, in the way they teach in university. One of my friend, she studies law at Haifa University and she was telling me that in her class they were teaching her that there were different definitions or different types of equality. We were talking about democracy and freedom and she was saying that here in Israel those terms were defined different. She was recently in the US and she felt so comfortable, she said that there were a lot of churches and that she feels that everyone can practice as they wish. That is really equality she says.

Two Kids playing at a festival in the Israeli neighborhood of The Carmel in Haifa

Sometimes is hard to see the discrimination. In the surface or from outside you would think that is wonderful that Palestinian and Israelis live together, but if you scratch a little you will see that is more like, you live there, I live here. You hang out there, I hang out here. Sometimes I feel really guilty and confused. I am living here within both Israelis and Palestinians, I am able to talk to both of them and to see the human side of both. But when you start to talk to Israelis you realize how little they know from the other side. One Colombian/Israeli told me that the Arab refused to divide the country half and half. Also that they had won 6 wars and that the Arabs had to get over it. Another Israeli, that there were no Jews in Palestine, that they had left Gaza. I have to deal with this everyday as well as with the Russian Israeli girls walking in mini-skirts and lots of make up, or the lady that the other day literally too a pair of sunglasses from my hands....when I was checking the price o buy them(really!). Or the guy serving the falafel in the food stand that asks me if I like Israel.

Well, I really like Haifa, is a beautiful city, with beautiful sea and beautiful mountains. I have friends and I go out and we can sit and talk about all these things!!What I don't like is that Palestinians still feel that they don't belong to a country that is theirs too, and that they have to live as second class citizens in their own country. And by the way about the peace talks, here there is no hope. The Palestinians said that it is all a show, they started to talk, the settlement freeze is over and the Israelis will start building, the Palestinians will say, "See, we wanted to talk, but you are building settlements in our future country, so there is no deal, see you when you stop building in our land" and that's it again, no peace talks. In addition, no comprehensive and genuine deal will be reached without including the Palestinians that live here, they are the ones that "know better the Israelis" because they are living among them, they speak the language and besides, they will be directly impacted by the decisions agreed.
Me and my friend Huda

Well, I guess I have to stand on the side for a little bit, and be able to listen, and humanize both sides of the story, always keeping in mind that we are all human and that we are made of the same flesh and bone and that we all have feelings and passion, I have to remember why I came here to learn and to work for peace, so that other generations can sand here as I am standing now and can live a live with dignity, no matter who they are.

Traditional Music Playing, sponsored by the Mosawa Center, where I live


  1. Nenaaa.. que debate, verdad?? Me encanta como escribes, deberias considerar escribir un libro sobre este viaje y tus experiencias.
    Massada ST. me acuerda a Francia, la calle donde los artistas e intelectuales se reunian a discutir temas de politica y arte. Como en cafe Guerbois o La Nouvelle-Athénes, templos de las vanguardias artisticas de aquella época.

  2. Si, verdad, estoy pensando eso del libro. Lo bueno es que esta todo documentado, despues un libro sera mas facil......Me alegra que te este gustando. Por fa comparte este link con tus amistades!!!!!