We met with the Mayor of Gush Etzioin, another settlement in the West Bank. Like the others, the mayor believed that this land was meant for Jews. He spoke of not being afraid of the Arabs, and does not hate them; he said he understood their mentality and respected them. He opposed the fence bc he believed it was a detriment to Israeli safety by increasing hatred among Arabs. I agree with this point very much. I feel that the more Israel tightens its choke hold on the Palestinians, groups like Hamas will be able to say, “see what the Jews are doing to you?” and sway them to that side. He said those who say the wall has decreased suicide bombing by 90% are mislead, the reason is due to better military operations by the IDF. He said that Israeli-Arabs have made the most recent attacks, not Palestinian Arabs.
The Mayor also stated that he believed that if Palestine was created it would be Islamic bc there was no proof in the world that Muslims could be democratic. He also mentioned that they were primitive and violent. He said there was no point in talking to Hamas bc they want to distroy Jews therefore he will fight them. One student said he/she disagreed and they mayor called him “sick” for believing otherwise. His comments offended many students and an argument broke out between the speaker and several students. As a group we agreed that we would not debate our speakers. That we are there to hear them, no matter what they say and talk about it, debate about it with each other at the end of each day. This system worked out very well. We asked productive and challenged questions and had constructive debates/discussions each nite with eachother. We had heard controversial speakers before and had always taken what was said in a professional manner. I don’t know what happened this time, maybe it was the heat, or the long day of meetings, but we all agreed that we broke down. We agreed it was disrespectful to the mayor and that it should not happen again. I am only mentioning this to show how difficult it is to hear some of these speakers. Of coarse some speakers go over well with some and not others bc we are a group of very different opinions, but emotions are high here for sure.