The Holy Land at an ImpasseAs politicians falter, Israelis and Palestinians find their own paths forward
Roadblock. Impasse. Stalemate.
Never in the nearly seven-decades of struggle between Palestinians and Israelis has the situation seemed so bleak. Stalled peace talks, attacks and reprisals, and a growing sense that neither side has leaders who can bring the unending cycle of violence to a halt, have led to rage and frustration that many fear will have an explosive end.
It was into this setting that 18 journalists of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism’s International Reporting Program ventured this summer. From the heady scenes of Tel Aviv’s gay pride parade, to the tense borders between Israelis and their Arab neighbors, to the overpopulated streets of Haredim, and the seething towns and settlements of the West Bank, we found Jews and Arabs with deeply rooted and complex grievances and hopes.
But amid the despair we also found people who were forging their own paths outside the political sphere. The entrepreneurs of Israel’s booming hi-tech industry, the creators of the Arab world’s most progressive women’s magazine and the bipartisan non-violence movement are just some of those striving to bring the peace and prosperity all sides crave.
These are their stories.
Rainbow Colors in Tel Aviv
By Christine Brink
In the mind of the international community Israel is known almost exclusively for its conflict with the Palestinian people with whom it shares its land. But Israel has broken ground in other areas including gay rights. Tel Aviv was the first city in the Middle East to host a gay pride parade, and gay soldiers serve openly in the Israeli Defense Forces. The country’s 18th gay rights parade was held recently in Tel Aviv. As the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu takes a harder line on the conflict with the Palestinians, critics say the government is trumpeting its progress on gay rights to draw attention away from the crisis in a practice known here as pinkwashing.
The Holy Land at an Impasse: the Podcast
Produced by Noah Caldwell
As we reported our way through Israel and the Palestinian Territories, we realized there was one common thread: across the board, Israelis and Palestinians shared a deep frustration with politicians. The protracted failure to find a resolution has left many to despair—but that frustration has also led many to find a way forward independent of official, political channels. In this podcast you’ll hear some of their voices. We’ll also talk with Peter Beinart, a leading commentator on Israel, and chat with some of our reporters about their experience on the ground.
When Your Neighbor Is Your Enemy
By Christine Brink
On the borders of today’s Israel it’s not a matter of if the next war comes, but when. In the tiny northern village of Metula, people live in constant fear of a war with Hezbollah which controls the Lebanese territory they can see through the security fence that borders their town and divides the two nations. In the south, the residents in Kibbutz Nirim fear rockets from the Palestinian territory of Gaza.
Both groups have plenty of reason to be afraid. In these disputed areas small scale attacks are common and outright war happens too. Residents of Nirim died in the last war between Gaza and Israel in 2014.
But still the people stay. As Christine Brink reports the one thing that unites them is a conviction that if the state of Israel is to exist, Jews must be willing to live on its borders.
Christine Brink, Editor
Noah Caldwell, Audio Editor
Doha Madani, Social Media Editor
Tola Brennan, Web Design
Director of International Reporting, Prue Clarke, Executive Editor
Director of Career Services, Andrea Stone, Program Director
Uri Dromi, Jerusalem Press Club
Vanessa Gabbay, Jerusalem Press Club