Last night, many of us who had been away for the weekend finally reunited in the dorms. Some of the girls spent the weekend in Jerusalem and had a similar missile experience as we had in Tel Aviv. Others had a weekend of horror in the south of the country. When we finally saw each other, so many long, meaningful hugs were exchanged. We had all realized that in the course of getting to know each other in the last months, we never hugged one another. After this weekend that rattled everyone to the core, we desperately needed that human connection. Political affiliations and religious beliefs aside, we hugged it all out and felt some catharsis in our shared experience; we were closer than ever.
But we’re in limbo. Although many of us are finally feeling some relief after a weekend of anxiety, we know there could be a war ahead of us. We want to catch our breath, but we feel it’s too soon to completely relax. I have friends all over the country who are being called up for reserve duty- not knowing what the future holds, our attempts to comfort each other are just glib words. As conflict resolution students, we talk nonstop about the particulars of the Israel/Hamas crisis; we disagree over the correct course of action, we question and challenge and nitpick to no end. But at the end of the day, we realize we all share the same desire for a quick, peaceful end to this crisis.
Last week there was a demonstration on campus organized by various Arab groups at the university. The media misrepresented it as a moment for silence to mourn the death of Jabari, but here at the university, we know it was actually a moment of silence in solidarity with the Palestinians of Gaza. (I wondered before I arrived if I would be fortunate enough to see instances when being in Israel allowed me to see the truth in something the media got wrong- this was a great example.) Yesterday, I attended the Israeli demonstration which was a show of support for Israel and the soldiers who are serving now. Two extremely right wing members of Knesset sneaked onto campus during the Israeli demonstration and caused some chaos. The Arabs wanted them gone, and the Jews wanted them gone as well. No police had to be called in, because no one was really in conflict.
I had no idea when I came here how liberal the campus was. I also had no idea the extent to which it was a mixed campus of Jews and Arabs, but I am so glad for both. Everyone has been extremely respectful of one another. I see keffiyehs everywhere, and I see Israeli flags everywhere, but there is certainly a sense that we are all in this together, praying for the safety of everybody‘s families, in Gaza and in Israel.
Today I stopped by an area of one academic building that had been roped off to allow the Israeli version of the Red Cross to collect blood from students, I assume in case they’re needed by the army in the coming days and weeks. I saw every kind of student waiting in line to donate. Unfortunately I was turned down, but I was happy to see the turnout that took the time to do a great thing.
On a day like today, I am so proud to be a student at the University of Haifa, and I hope that no matter what happens in the coming days, all the students continue to act in a dignified and loving matter towards one another.