This blog post was submitted by Netanel Silverman, FoEME Field Staff from Tsur Hadassah
On Thursday, April 28th 2011, representatives from three youth communities – Nisui School (West Jerusalem), Tzur Bahar Village (East Jerusalem) and Ein-Karem School (Israel) – visited Netiv Ha-Lamed Heh Kibutz where we spent three days interacting in dialogue and learning together about different ‘green’ issues. The bus, which took our group to the Kibutz, was big and our three small groups seemed to be swallowed by its large space, where each group had naturally marked their own separate territory on the bus.
At the Kibutz we were joined by the rest of the groups: a group from the Israeli community of Eshkol (a community bordering with Gaza); a group from the Palestinian village school of Wadi-Fukin; and finally a group of fine young men coming from the Palestinian village of Yatta (South mountain of El-Halil).
Our host in Netiv Ha-Lamed Heh was Danny, an ultra ecological person. We were given a tour of our new home which included all possible forms of recycling (literally everything is separated and recycled), compost bathrooms which use no water and a beautiful dancing studio which was built, as were most facilities on the kibutz, from mud. Danny reminded me of King Midas who turned everything he touched into gold only when Danny touches something it instantly turns green…
Despite the stormy weather we had insisted on making a fire that night. The highlight of the evening was no doubt the beautiful Debka performance (a traditional Arabic dance) by the girls from Tzur-Bahar. The fire and dancing caused the territorial separations to melt…and instead a mutual curiosity of the youth had started to awaken.
Our second day included a building workshop led by Danny, where he encouraged the youth to add ‘another brick to the wall’. After this activity we went on what was supposed to have been a nice one-hour walk to the neighboring village of Avi-Ezer. This ‘stroll’ was lead by the Gilat, a FoEME Field Researcher from West Jerusalem, and included an overview of the area by Palestinian Youth Coordinator Nur (FoEME-Bethlehem), who shed light on the historical dimensions of the area, especially the many Palestinians villages that had been destroyed and abandoned during the 1948 war (known as the ‘Nakba’, meaning ‘day of catastrophe’ in Arabic). For some of FoEME’s youth and staff the easy ‘stroll’ had become a small nightmare due to the pounding sun and its unexpected length.
But, the walk was well worth it, as we partook in two fascinating workshops upon arrival in Avi-Ezer. One dealt with the Good-Energy Initiative where we were exposed to many alternative natural ways of producing energy, and the second gave us a sense of different herbs and the ways they could be used as medicines.
Our third and final day was marked by the youth’s presentations of each community followed by some joint brain storming as to possible future solutions. After sad good-byes we found ourselves too quickly back on the bus, about to be separated once again by these human-made borders that unsuccessfully try to erase from our minds, time after time, the fact that nature knows none.