This is the part of a series of live dispatches from our Write On For Israel students during their trip to Israel. Write On For Israel is a leadership training program for high school students. You can find out more about the program here, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram for live updates throughout the trip and here for the daily roundups.
The Write On group woke up this morning and heard from Dr. Micah Goodman, author of “Catch ‘67,” who gave us a new perspective of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He guided us through the changes between the Left and Right in Israel and explained the major effects of both the first and second Intifadas. The one common factor, according to Goodman, between the changes in the Right and the Left, was that their dreams were converted to fears. Originally, they saw this as an opportunity to end Jewish exile, by either fulfilling biblical prophecies or by having the Jews be viewed as equals on the world stage. If Israel stay in the West Bank, it will be catastrophic, but if they leave that will also lead to the end of the Jewish state – this the “catch 22.” His riveting and captivating speech sparked questions and conversations between Write On students throughout the rest of the day.
Right after, we took a short bus ride over to Holon, where the “Save a Child’s Heart” Children’s
Home is located. “Save a Child’s Heart” is a non-profit organization in which Israeli cardiac surgeons volunteer their time to help children who are born with heart defects. The children’s ages vary from newborns to teens, and they come from Arab and African countries that are near and around Israel. These countries do not have all the resources to help their children. On top of providing free surgery for these children, “Save a Child Heart” also trains doctors in the medical field to specialize in pediatric cardiology.
On average it costs $15,000 to save a child, including transportation and surgery. For this amazing organization every donation counts. It is extremely important to keep the children that undergo these surgeries in a positive environment as well as continuing to make others aware of the help that is provided. This furthers the success and outreach that this organization prides itself in. While there, we were given the chance to play with the children, engaging in art activities and sports. For the group as a whole, it was really an amazing experience and a wonderful opportunity to spend one-on-one time with these great kids.
This afternoon, we had the amazing privilege to hear from Dr. Michael Oren, Deputy Minister in the Netanyahu government. Oren, author of well renowned books, “6 Days of War” and “Ally” has offered us his perspective on the current political climate in Israel. Deputy Minister Oren focused on the upcoming election and stressed that while many issues may impact voters such as the peace process and the economy, this election ultimately comes down to Bibi. Prime Minister Netanyahu has emerged as an immensely polarizing figure in Israeli Society. However, as Oren mentioned, the biggest concern among Israelis is security and going to sleep knowing their kids are safe. In terms of safety, Bibi can’t be beat. April 2019 will be a referendum not on the Left vs. the Right, rather it will be a testament to whether Israelis have simply had enough of Netanyahu. However, as Oren said emphatically “Bibi will win again.”
Following the wonderful opportunity to hear from Deputy Minister Oren, we hopped on the bus and made our way to the Israeli Supreme Court. When we arrived, we began a tour of the building, including a visit into one of the five courtrooms. Our tour guide, Nir, gave us a breakdown of Israel’s court system and explained the intricacies of the Supreme Court. We then heard from Elyakim Rubinstein, a former Supreme Court Justice who also worked closely with many Israeli Prime Ministers. Justice Rubinstein spoke about how he made decisions in court and the role of the Supreme Court in Israel’s democracy. He also discussed the role that religion played in his court decision making and some of the struggles he went through during those processes.
Tonight, we look forward to hearing from Riman Barakat who is the CEO of Explore Palestine.
Written by: Meira Saffra, Aidan Englander, Eli Jarashow, Shayna Salomon, Abe Teicher, Emily Turner and Ella Siff-Scherr.