Most recently, with this last group of 100 students (which was a big success!), a highlight for many of the students on the Trek was traveling to Al Khaleel in the southern West Bank. Students were shocked to see one of our leaders, a Palestinian West Bank-ID holder being told by the Israeli solider on Shuhada’a Street that she could not simply walk on the street. The realities of Al Khaleel are very harsh, and the students were surprised at the blatant system of apartheid that they were witnessing, and that was being described to them by former Israeli solders from Breaking the Silence.
Another highlight of this year’s Harvard Trek was when we visited an unrecognized village in the Naqab Desert; despite the little to no access to water, electricity, and basic human rights and public services, we were all deeply humbled and inspired by the hospitality the hosts showed us, as they poured each student in the group a cup of both tea and coffee. It was shocking for the students to immediately go to Yaffa and Tel Aviv afterwards – a mere 1 and a half hour ride – and to witness the stark difference of utmost injustice towards Palestinians in the Naqab and a very comfortable life for Israeli Jews on the Mediterranean coast. A final highlight, of many that occurred on the trip, occurred when students were taken to the wall and were able to walk through an unmanned door to the “Israeli side”. Our guide pointed out the Knesset and how anyone could walk to the other side, illustrating how the wall was not about security. As a leader of this year’s trip, I will do everything possible to ensure its continuity.