I left Israel four days aft er the cease fire ended and four days before Israel launched Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip. Th e trip was eye opening, and although I didn't drastically change my views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I did start to realize the many complex layers of Israeli society. Religion, nationalism, growing up with an us against-them mentality, mandatory military service and living in the shadow of the holocaust- to name a few- make the conflict seem like it may never end. An assumption that was sadly solidified Dec. 27.
I applied for the trip aft er hearing about it from a friend who had gone a few years before and was chosen with about a dozen other "student leaders," kids who are actively involved on their campuses. Called National Jewish Campus Life, the program was mostly paid for by the Canada-Israel Committee. Here's some of what I saw. (Click images below for larger versions.)