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Givat Haviva, Israel – November 2, 2018


Right at the start of the seminar a huge gap could be felt between Israelis and Palestinian Citizens of Israel. It was most noticeable with our languages separating us. Like in the summer program, at first the different delegations stuck together. It’s very comfortable to speak your language and talk to your delegation.
One of the difficulties in seminars are that they’re very short. If only there were more days to the seminar, alumni would go out of their comfort zone a lot more and the gap between Israelis and Palestinians would shrink, not only towards the end.
While in the U.S., some participants complained that the Americans didn’t contribute much to the program because of their distance from the conflict. Coming back from Chicago, Hands landed back in their hard reality and soon everyone understood the American Hands very important role in this program. The seminars look totally different without Americans. The tension between Palestinians and Israelis is higher and harder because of their absence. They’re not there  to ease up the atmosphere and stick everyone together. It’s one of the reasons the dialogues are more serious and real – you instantly jump into the boiling pool of thoughts and emotions.

Even though while in the seminar the Hands only went to 4 short dialogues, every dialogue carried the weight of the tough program dialogues. Harsh opinions and personal stories got the most genuine reactions and feelings out of people.

My dialogue group agreed right at the start that it was very hard to come back from the summer program. One Palestinian even said it sometimes felt fake. “How can I think what happened was real when everyday I see Israeli soldiers on checkpoints”.

But it wasn’t always this gloomy. On the last dialogue, hope appeared after two hard personal stories. Both portrayed similar fears and difficulties about being hurt by the other side. It made us understand that we are not that different, that what happened in the program is not fake. Only a glimpse into a better and more optimistic version of what can be the reality.