Bialik Rogazin Sparking Hope
Updated: Mar 9, 2021
“This passport is valid for all countries of the World except Israel.” As a Pakistani Muslim I always knew I would never be able to travel to Israel and neither was I interested in traveling to a place that was to my knowledge known for bombing the Palestinian State and known for oppressing the Palestinians. Yet, here I was in Tel Aviv, Israel. Upon arriving Israel I had despite the racial profiling expected improper behavior from the Jewish community in Israel. I was taken by surprise when my expectations were proved wrong along the journey of meeting different speakers, government officials and going to different organizations (for the most part).
One of the organizations that really caught my attention and that was a spark of hope was the Bialik Rogazin School. Despite the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and the division of the land, here was this school. A school that has children refugees and migrant workers from more than 52 different countries. I had always thought the school I went to was the most diverse but the Bialik school left me speechless. One thing I found very beautiful about this school was, the principal and the language. It did not matter to the Principal whether his students were Jewish or not. Regardless of the students’ ethnic backgrounds they all spoke Hebrew. My personal view on this is, when people share the same language they express themselves in a similar way and they understand each other better compared to someone who does not know the language the same concept addressed would be understood differently or maybe not even understood seem aliening.
Along the journey in Israel we had further travelled to Jerusalem and one of the places we visited from Jerusalem was, Hebron. Hebron, a city that has Palestinian sovereignty but is mainly controlled by the Israeli military. It is still unclear to me, why and how can a city function when yes, it is under Palestinian governance but under the jurisdiction of the Israeli military. It was very disconcerting to see that many routes in Hebron were only restricted for Israelis to use and Palestinians were refrained from certain routes. One thing that struck me was the economic situation of Hebron. There was a group of Israeli children that walked by on our way inside the city and then I had seen a group of Palestinian children. What is the definition of a sovereign city? Yes, there is no trust between the Jews and Arabs but how does one punish the next generation for this. Whilst walking in the H1 area there were a lot of houses that were in poor conditions and you would barely see as many people compared to the number of houses. To my understanding, apparently, the posters in almost every street were the reason and justifying to why the land was under Israeli military. As I recall the posters stated, “due to a massive killing of Jews by the Arabs, the land, Hebron City is controlled by the Israeli military.” This reminded me of 9/11 and how the actions of a group of Muslims cannot represent the entire Muslim nation and the entire nation cannot be affiliated with the mass murders and be punished for it.
Jabeen Cheema is a member of the 2015 Ibrahim cohort.