Monday, Feb. 29 & Tuesday, March 1
Written by Martha Sklar
The last two days have been mind boggling! On Monday, we were delighted to have Orly Erez Likovsky, Head of of Legal Affairs at the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC). Many of the cases that have been won is through litigation up to the Supreme Court. Currently, she is testifying before the Knesset regarding a law, that has passed the first stage, that would permit any Member of Parliament to expel any member of Parliament. Not sure how this would work. She also works on cases, sometimes class action, regarding demands of Haredi men insisting they cannot sit next to a woman on a plane and the woman is made to move. This will be a case against EL AL.
Later we left for the Hartman Institute where we had a double study session. The first dealt with the conflicts in Israel and the two-state solution. He calls this Catch 67, referring to the new borders of the 1967 war. His thesis is to put the peace process on hold for 5 – 10 years and then deal with internal isues and how to remove the stranglehold the Ultra Orthodox have.
Our second session was a wonderful study session regarding on how to view something from tbe other’s view.
After lunch, we toured East Jerusalem with an Ir Amim representative. His position was fervent and constantly focused on how badly the Palestinaians were treated by the Israelis.
If this was not enough, upon our return to the hotel, we had an hour session with the person who worked so hard for the release of Gilad Shalit.
Today, Tuesday, we said goodbye to the Inbal Hotel and started out on our trek to the West Bank and Ramallah.
First we went to Efrat, in Gush Tzion, and spoke with Oded Ravivi, Mayor of Efrat. Much of what he said was similar to last time we visited. He is a religious (probably Modern Orthodox) man because of his referring to the area as Judea and Samaria. He gave some anecdotes about his contacts with the Palestinians in the nearby villages!
From there we went to Ramallah, after changing buses and drivers as well as tour guides, where we met Rami who was very passionate about the mistreatment of Palestinians in the “refugee camps.” We toured the refugee camp after having met and spoken with the person who is part of the Council that helps the residents with their issues in the camp. He did admit to the corruption that exists and money donated to the camps never gets there. We had a lobvely lunch in Ramallah and then headed to our Israeli bus to switch and continue on to Tel Aviv. But, at the check point, we were stopped to ve questioned. We each had to show our passports and then we were waved through.
Since our evening speaker had to cancel, we spent an hour with our Israeli tour guide who helped clarify some issues.
Anyway, tomorrow we are off at 9:00 a.m. to a yeshiva for secular students to learn about Torah, etc. I am not sure what follows but we will end up at Maganda in Tel Aviv’s Yemenite Quarter when we will say Bon Voyage to Rabbi Joel who has to return a few days earlier to L.A. Cantor Kent who now lives in Jerusalem will take over for the last three days.