This summer, I spent two months interning with NGO EcoPeace Middle East in their Tel Aviv office. Alongside working five days a week in the office, I was able to meet and become friends with people from many sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to discuss the prospect of peace through an environmental means. Whilst the narrative of the conflict is often surrounded by religion and politics, a primarily humanitarian perspective allows for much hope and change in the future.
Here’s some photos that help reflect on my experiences this summer. These photos were selected to illustrate that whilst the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is often framed in bleak terms, through dialogue, engagement and collaboration, there is hope for the future.
Many thanks to the University of Edinburgh’s Go Abroad Fund who helped make this summer truly life-changing!
Figure 1 – Path to Peace wall. Thousands of visitors from around the world have collaborated with artist Tsameret Zamir in making a mosaic creation representative of future hope for the region.
Figure 2 – a visit to a woman-owned and operated natural dye garment shop. Using plants like indigo grown on a farm nearby, the women dye and sew their own products. This is a core example of eco-tourism, attracting many visitors, to help empower women surrounded by the conflict and its wider effects.
Figure 3 – an example of a few mosaics… forgive, love, ‘shalom’ which translates to ‘peace’ from Hebrew
Figure 4 – the Dead Sea. Directly affected by the demise of the Jordan River, the Dead Sea is dropping by 1 meter a year. This photo was taken at an old restaurant which used to be on the edge of the water. As you can see, the Dead Sea has shrunk dramatically since then, and continues to. EcoPeace is working on multiple projects, both grassroots and top-down, to advocate for the rehabilitation of the Dead Sea and regional cooperation.
Figure 5 – on the Israeli side of the Jordan River. One of EcoPeace’s flagship projects is to work across communities in Israel, Palestine and Jordan to empower local residents, mayors and officials to call for and lead necessary cross-border solutions to regional water issues. This includes addressing the dire condition of the Jordan River, which can partly be attributed to conflict in the Middle East, which has seen 95% of its fresh water diverted, much of its flow polluted and biodiversity lost.
Figure 6 – mandatory picture of amazing hummus!!!