In December, 14 students from campuses across the UK embarked on Manhigut, an access-all-areas trip to Israel. Visiting sites of religious and political interest, they learnt about and discussed the past, present and future of the region.
In Jerusalem they visited the Kotel (Western Wall), Temple Mount and Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where they learnt about the different religions that hold the Old City sacred and explored the complexities of sharing a space that is holy and precious to so many.
One day of the trip was dedicated to exploring the West Bank. In Ramallah the students visited the Al-Amari refugee camp and the Yasser Arafat Museum, and met representatives of Fatah Youth; in the Binyamin region they met with locals before enjoying a tour of a factory that employs Palestinians and Israelis who work side by side (and sampled the products!)
At the Achva factory
They also visited the borders of Israel, learning about Israel’s relationships with her neighbours from an on-the-ground perspective. Many in the group were astounded by the fact that it is possible to visit Israel’s Jordanian, Lebanese and Syrian borders in a single day, emphasizing the size of this small country.
At Netiv L'shalom, 'Path to peace' at Moshav Netiv Ha'asara on the Gaza border
Along with the tour guides and local residents who offered firsthand accounts of living in Israel, the group was privileged to meet many politicians, influencers and journalists too. Amongst others, they were addressed by Haviv Rettig Gur, senior analyst at The Times of Israel; Dov Lipman, ex-Member of Knesset for Yesh Atid (There is a Future); Tal Shalev, Political Correspondent for Walla News; Josef Federman of the Associated Press; and a panel of soldiers from the Israeli Defence Forces. In these conversations, the students learnt about the internal and external conflicts that Israel faces, including issues of democracy, demographics, economics and international relationships.
Meeting Hassan, Darfurian asylum seeker living in Tel Aviv
The students who participated in the trip have returned to the UK equipped with the knowledge and tools necessary to continue discussing Israel and Israel’s role in the Middle East on their campuses.
If you are interested in future Manhigut trips, please contact Liron: [email protected]