Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Conflict and Hope

Over the last week I and my fellow Otzma participants have been participating in a seminar called Conflict and Hope. Our amazing staff put together an incredible journey that while tough and exhausting, allowed us to really dig into the conflict and see it from many sides while attempting to form our own opinions. 

We heard from historians, tour guides, the Rabbis for Human Rights, soldiers from Breaking the Silence and the Communications Advisor for the PLO. We also spent Shabbat with residents of Jewish Settlements in the West Bank, toured the Southern Hebron Hills and processed it all through drama.

The following statements/thoughts are things that popped into my head while touring Area C in the West Bank, talking with my fellow Otzmaniks about their feelings on what we were seeing/hearing and my questions that I wish I could have raised when we heard the Communications Director of the PLO speak. Please take them at face value but remember that you haven't seen what I've seen and that this is raw emotion. Also, none of this is edited.

The words the middle eastern peace process, the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, have very weighty connotations. I haven't beliefs, but I also feel like who am I to have these beliefs.

Skeptical, conflicted, discombobulated, confused, positive, joyful...I've felt all of these things over the last 48 hours. But now I also feel lucky - to have had this experience, to have met the people I've met, the see the things I've seen.

It makes me want to learn more and do more research, and I feel like that means that all these feelings are worth it.

I believe that if the Palestinians put down their weapons, tomorrow we would have peace. However, if we put down our weapons, we would all be dead. And what does that say about me? What does that say about the people who feel that way? And more over, what does that say about the Palestinians?

The Nahkba??? You (the arab nations) attacked us! You could have accepted the UN partition plan. I have never been able to reconcile this in my head..it has never made sense to me how the PLO could demand that we recognize them and give them rights and land and money and when they chose to start this conflict in 1948-they admit that they are choosing to continue the conflict - peace is in your hands buddy

300%? What are the actual numbers. Percentages don't tell me anything.

How can you promise that if we have a 2-state solution tomorrow, all the rockets and terror will stop?

How can you displace 500,000 people? What do you do with them? Isn't it better to focus on human rights instead if land?

Israel won all this land in wars where they were not the aggressors - so you took a risk and lost and now we should pay the price?

Feeling a little guilty that I hear him speak and this is what I think about - I don't want to be that person who con't see the other side or is totally selfish, but I don't see my opinions changing on this.

You made it up to israel when you refused to accept the partition plan. Don't say that Israel didn't consider your rights - you chose not to accept it.

It's all just semantics....

(The PLO provides Israel with a secure border) Israel insured its own borders!

(He said the rockets into the south were not that bad) It's not that bad???? No own in his right mind would chose to live thy way. You want to live in Rocket range????!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Nike Night Run Tel Aviv

I'm still not sure if this was a rave or a race or a dry land simulation of a triathlon swim, but it was definitely one of the coolest races I've ever done. Nike definitely put on a show! I traveled down to Tel Aviv with a friend and our jaws hit the floor when we entered Rabin Square. 

Excitement had been building since we got off the train with hundreds of other runners, and only continued to build as we walked the mile to the race start. Because the race asked everyone to wear their official race shirts, we didn't even have to worry about getting lost on the way - you just followed the mass of people with "Game On, World" emblazoned on their backs. Coming around the corner to the entrance on the square we could feel the beat of the music, which got louder and louder until I felt like my eardrums might explode. There were lasers and lights and the energy of 20,000 people getting ready to run - it was pretty incredible. 

I was excited to race and wanted to use this race to get a good gauge on how I was doing implementing Kevin's training on my own. I guess I hadn't fully thought out what it would be like to run with 20,000 people in the dark. In a word - crowded! I had planned to start with the 45 minute pace group and then pick it up at the 5k mark, but right from the start I had a problem. Despite pushing myself up as close to the front as I could get, I wound up smushed like a sardine up against the 50 minute pacer with no room to run.

Before the start line got crazy!
After a countdown of, "Five, Hamesh, Four, Arbah, Three, Shalosh, Two, Shtaim, One, Echad!" the air horn blew and we were off! ....Except we weren't going anywhere exactly....You couldn't take so much as a step forward without getting elbowed, kicked, tripped, etc. Have you see this Clif Bar commercial? Because this is exactly what the start of the race felt like (except more crowded and way more humid):

I kept the guy with the giant 45 on his back in sight, and gave myself until the 5k mark to catch him...except I got a little excited and wound up in his little pack within the first 1k. The first four kilometers flew by - I felt like I was just cruising along on this wave of energy coming from the party at the start line. Unfortunately I lost my little pace group at the first water stop when I realized the water was only on one side and it was not the side of the road I was running on. Let me tell you - trying to cut across the stream of runners is hard when it's light out, it's nearly impossible to do at night without tripping and falling on your face.

After I lost my pacer, I kind of fell apart a little. It was humid, I was tired, and I couldn't really pick up the pace without running into someone's back. I'm not proud of how I was thinking throughout this one, but I managed to get myself across the finish line in a PR worthy time of 47:19. Not quite the 10 or 20 minutes all my friends seemed to think I was capable of finishing in (I left my jetpack in NY!), but not too shabby either! I wound up 59th out of 5,208 women.

Overall it was an amazing experience - something I am going to remember for the rest of my life!