An Israeli Girl’s cup of coffee with her enemy, this morning. ~ Tal Nimrodi.

Via on May 21, 2011

Just like how I don’t understand why there are some Palestinians who want to harm us, I don’t understand why my younger brother has to go watch over a 12 family settlement in the West Bank instead of being with his family in Passover. I must admit, I don’t have a solution, but I do think that it has just gotten to a point where all I can say is “enough.” Both sides are suffering, our children are dying for no reason, Palestinians develop hatred toward us because they feel helpless and turn to Hamas for support, the world looks at us as the wrongdoers and blood spills on our ground.  It would take  two days for me to write and you five hours to read all that needs to be said, but I just want you to know, see, empathise, feel what it’s like to live in such a crazy place.

Israel-Palestine, Firsthand. An Israeli Girl, former intern at elephantjournal.com, tells of her cup of coffee this morning with a Palestinian “enemy.”

So here’s the story in brief.

As my friend Eran and I were driving back from the Dead Sea this morning, we didn’t realize what we were getting ourselves into when we stopped at a Bedouin tent to buy a sleeping pad.

We were greeted by a Palestinian man, who immediately offered us a seat and a cup of coffee. When you are offered coffee, it’s quite disrespectful to deny, so we sat down on the nice cushions, drank some black coffee and talked a bit. It’s not an everyday scene that you get to sit face-to-face with your so-called “enemy.” We talked about what we share in common, including, as it happened, the land we live on, and tried to understand each other.

We talked about what life was like during the Intifada in the mid ’90s when everyday a bus would blow, a bombing would occur in a central location, or you would hear about people you knew who just like that disappeared from our world. During this time, if I may remind those of you who forgot and those of you who didn’t know, Palestinians had work permits, were making their living working in Israel, making a good living and it seemed as if everyone was prospering. During that time some people decided to take advantage of those rights and freedom and Palestinians with bad intentions entered Israel and exploded themselves in public areas, killing many innocent Israeli civilians. Like any other country trying to protect itself, we were forced to close our borders, become a lot more strict and consider Palestinians as a whole as the enemy.

In 2005 Israel unilaterally decided to leave Gaza and move all the Israel settlers and citizens from the area. This was an extremely painful process, but we did it and left Gaza clean from any Israeli settlements, giving the local Palestinians the opportunity to control their own destiny. Israel left behind intact all the infrastructure that was built throughout the years. What happened shortly after may be already forgotten by the free world, but instead of taking advantage of this unilateral departure and invest in developing their own lives, hundreds of missiles were directed toward Israeli cities and towns in the southern part of Israel, shattering the lives of the local community.

For almost three years Israel tolerated this aggression with a lot of resolve.  Ultimately, Israel was forced to react and to protect its citizens, and act as any independent country would have done. It seems as if the media shows only how we oppress the Palestinians, but what about the other side? Do you think we like sending our children to sit at border crossings, checking papers all day? Since the fence was built we have had some bombings and even rockets fly over our borders, but overall it has been quite some time (depending who you ask and where they are from).

After a cup of black coffee on a hot day we reached a conclusion: There are extremists on both sides, both the Jewish fanatics who live in illegal settlements, and there is the Hamas and their people who do not recognize Israel’s right to exist and will do anything in their power to destroy us.

Places like Qiryat Arba, where many Israeli extremists live, is not any better if you ask me. But what I can say to their defense is that no matter how extreme they are, most will not blow themselves up and killing many civilians.

My friend Eran is an above knee amputee who lost his leg in the second Lebanon War just a few years back. He was telling me today that during his military service while guarding these areas, he would get stones thrown at him not only by little Palestinian children but also by the other side, our side, the settlers. Just imagine our 18 to 20 year old soldiers being put right in the middle of this battle: what do they think to themselves? I can tell you that most of them say the same thing, what do we need this for? And what can we do? This conflict dates so far back that both sides have developed rigidly opposing views. Just like how I don’t understand why there are some Palestinians who want to harm us, I don’t understand why my younger brother has to go watch over a 12 family settlement in the West Bank instead of being with his family in Passover. I must admit, I don’t have a solution, but I do think that it has just gotten to a point where all I can say is “enough.” Both sides are suffering, our children are dying for no reason, Palestinians are developing hatred toward us because they feel helpless and turn to Hamas for support, the world looks at us as the wrongdoers and too much blood spills on our grounds.  It would take about two days for me to write and you five hours to read all that needs to be said, but I just want you to know, see, empathise, feel what it’s like to live in such a crazy place.

Our friend with the coffee, this morning, told us that he hasn’t been in Israel (Tel Aviv) in 15 years. Just the other day he got a one-day permit to travel and see Israel. He told us that most of the time he was on the bus and by the time they got to Tel Aviv and went up north a bit, he had a curfew he had to follow. His life is not easy—originally from Halhul a village near Hebron, he moved to Jericho, one of the biggest Palestinian cities situated close to the Dead Sea.

I must say that writing this article took me a long time, because I myself don’t know it all. There is so much to say and writing words down doesn’t come close to telling it all. Hearing him tell me all this made me feel torn. From one side, I think it is sad that he lives such a strict life where there is always someone controlling where he can go and when…but on the other side, I agree with my country that since it is hard to filter person from person, there are rules and that is the only way we can all have some silence and live peacefully and with less fear. We want peace and we are willing to make big sacrifices to sustain it. We are willing to give so much just to get recognition of our existence in return.

Both sides deserve to live in peace and freedom, so it’s up to us to listen to one another and look at each other as human beings.

Tal Nimrodi

…(at left) studied Sociology at University of Colorado at Boulder, and interned at elephant journal back when we were a magazine. She now lives in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Bonus section:

A few random photos I dug from back in the day, when Tal was one of our interns. ~ ed.

~ The below video doesn’t come from Tal, but was posted on her FB Wall by an acquaintance. I’m sharing it here, by way of perspective and conversation. ~ ed.

YouTube Preview Image

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10 Responses to “An Israeli Girl’s cup of coffee with her enemy, this morning. ~ Tal Nimrodi.”

  1. Genevieve says:

    Love this article!

  2. Hadeel says:

    Hi Tal,
    I really enjoyed reading your article. I am a Palestinian. My grandparents were driven out of their home in Jaffa at gunpoint in 1948 and they lived as refugees in the West Bank ever since. After the occupation of the West Bank in 1967, my grand father was able to get a permit to cross the green line and visit Jaffa. He went to his home. He knocked on the door. A Jewish lady opened the door. He couldn't help it .. he walked in and saw his house as he left it 20 years ago, with the same furniture and some of the pics on the walls.. soon he was asked to leave. He told the lady that this was his home. and she started calling the neighbors for help.
    To cut a long story short. my grandfather was devastated exactly like he was in 1948 when he left for the first time. He fell ill and died soon after.
    It is painful and even more so when you can't even understand why we are angry. We have been "ethnically cleansed", occupied, humiliated, mistreated, killed or let die at checkpoints. the list goes on and on. I will not speak from the voice of the victim bc I refuse to be one.
    but I ask the children and grandchildren of the survivors of the holocaust, how could you do the same to another peoples? I certainly expected more from you guys!

    • Shlomo says:

      Hadeel, I am very sorry about your father! It is a very sad story. I want however to remind us all how it all started. After 6 million Jews were prosecuted in Europe for just being Jews, the UN decided in 1948 to establish a Jews state in a very clearly defined boarders. The Arab states never accepted this decision! Never accepted Israel right to exist. Immediately after all Arab States opened a war against the 600,000 Jews that were celebrating their independence in the new born state. Many Arabs ran away and left behind their homes. Yes, this was a war, a war for existence and surely there were gun point situations like you are describing. It was a bloody war that Israel did not start. We can not change the history. We can change the future. There is no doubt that there should be a Palestinian State side by side in Israel and all Palestinian should have the right to come back to the new Palestinian state and not the Jewish State. There are more than 100 Muslim countries around the world. There is ONLY ONE Jewish state. Israel, after all these years is willing to make peace and give a lot for it. How do you suggest it do it when you have Hamas that clearly states that Israel does not have right to exist?

  3. Hadeel says:

    And after all these years.. we too want peace.. will we be able to live on this tiny piece of land together as one people? Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived on this land for thousands of years in peace and coexistence. Do you think this is possible today?
    Will Israel accept to have a one-state solution? esp. now will all the settlements in the West Bank and all around Jerusalem, the two-state solution doesn't seem to be viable any longer.
    I write this not as a Palestinian, but as human being who wants to see and end to all suffering on both sides.. Both of us have that in common (as well as a love for yoga, I believe).
    Please send me your thoughts on this.

  4. Shlomo says:

    I believe that a one stare solution is not possible. It must be a two state solution and I believe it is certainly possible! The settlements can be divided into two categories, large areas and small isolated settlements. The total number of settlers is around 300,000 out about 6 million. The large areas are the areas that I believe we need to swap territories i.e. give a similar size territory that will insure continuity of a Palestinian state between Gaza and the west bank as much as possible. The smaller settlements will have to be dismantled. Jerusalem, is a bit more complicated. I believe there is a way to give Palestinian "Al Kuyz" in large areas of East Jerusalem. I believe the old city needs to be international with all religion having access to the holey city. The fundamental question is, if Israel would do all this, would that be the end of this conflict ? Would Hamas put their weapons down? Would Israel be able to open embassies in all the Arab countries…. If not, should we take this risk? Our margin of error does not exist. What do you think?

  5. Tal says:

    Hadeel,
    I agree that this whole situation is so touchy and the subject is really hard to talk about.. Like Shlomo said, I believe we need two states, we cannot live in one, it will never happen. I do believe that if we clear out some of the smaller settlements and form a Palestinian state it is the only way we can live. I don't think that the settlements and Jerusalem make a two state solution unattainable, rather, I believe that if we clear out of most we can form this together. My question is really if there will be peace once we do give the land back? We are all suffering here, not just the Palestinians.
    All I know is that we can't go on living like this and we must act.

  6. Shlomo says:

    Hadeel, I certainly did not mean to be one sided. Perhaps you can educate us on these other resolutions that you are referring to specifically the one that talks about right of Palestinians to get back to Israel.
    Leave this aside for a moment. Let me ask you a direct question. Let's assume you are right for the sake of this discussion, and that there are several million Palestinians that claim they used to live in the territories of the Israel state, and lets say that they all come back. If this would happen, do you think Israel can exist ? What would you do? Would love to hear your thoughts.

  7. Hadeel says:

    Shlomo, as much as am enjoying our discussion and exchange of ideas, I feel it is not my place to educate you or anyone else on this conflict. I believe it is our duty to educate ourselves and do all necessary research to understand our predicament. I can direct you to a few sources that I think you and I can agree to be objective sources. It pains me that you question my story, and it goes to show the extent of the misinformation that has prevailed.
    There are many Israeli historians who have researched this subject and written extensively about this period: Illan Pappe, Avi Shlaim, Benny Morris. I invite you to read their books or YouTube them. Here is a link to an interesting discussion about this subject as well as the peace process with the former Israeli foreign minister: http://youtu.be/h-FLIBkTg8g – Part 1 http://youtu.be/nbDMam_jGVk – Part 2 http://youtu.be/o_j2XH4tOK4 – Part 3 http://youtu.be/b5cYaCWfWNY – Part 4 http://youtu.be/nQUXuixbYdU – Part 5 http://youtu.be/NEa8JBlCnx8 – Part 6
    Please send my your thoughts

  8. Hadeel says:

    I was watching this today and thought it would be good to share with you here:
    http://youtu.be/c4ZfnpN4Dfc

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