Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Israeli Women Risk Prosecution To Take Palestinians To The Beach

In Tel Aviv, Palestinian women from the southern part of the West Bank were able to swim and enjoy the sea for the first time. The West Bank is completely landlocked and Palestinians are usually not allowed to leave in order to limit terrorist activities.

A dozen Israeli women risked prosecution in order to take them to the beach. They were skittish at first, but eventually became wide-eyed with delight. The Israelis and Palestinians entered the sea smiling and then joined hands as they were knocked about by the sea.

Israeli-Palestinian relations are complex, with usual distance and dehumanization. Coexistence is hard, but there are still people on both sides who refuse to give up on it. This trip was a rare event and a magical one at that.

The visits began a year ago as the idea of one Isreali. They have become a movement of civil disobedience.

“They and we, all ordinary citizens, took this step with a clear and resolute mind. In this way we were privileged to experience one of the most beautiful and exciting days of our lives, to meet and befriend our brave Palestinian neighbors, and together with them, to be free women, if only for one day.”

There have been seven beach trips so far and they have produced some tense moments. The beaches in Tel Aviv are predominantly Jewish and the Police can make everyone nervous. They were barely noticed though, and were able to enjoy their free day at the beach.

Ms. Aharoni, the founder of the idea, was asked her thoughts. She replied: “For 44 years, we have occupied another country. I am 53, which means most of my life I have been an occupier. I don’t want to be an occupier. I am engaged in an illegal act of disobedience. I am not Rosa Parks, but I admire her, because she had the courage to break a law that was not right.”

-Gabrielle Gurian