Israel and its Changing Borders
By Asher Malech, Class of 2018
My name is Asher Malech, and I’m a freshman in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers. I grew up in a Jewish community, attended Jewish schools and last year I decided to spend the year learning in a yeshiva in Israel. As part of that experience, I chose to learn as much as I could about many of the important issues in Israeli politics, as well as about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. I wanted to learn more so I could adequately respond to people who question the legitimacy of Israel’s actions, lands, wars and people. I feel very passionately about defending Israel and being an active member of the pro-Israel community. When I learned of the Hillel Israel Leadership Initiative (HILI), I jumped on the opportunity to learn more about the country I love.
The ability to hear the different, knowledgeable speakers talk about the issues from a variety of political perspectives is an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. The first speech didn’t disappoint. Joe Perlov came to speak about the topic of Israel’s changing borders from the British Mandate until today. We learned new information about how the borders of the region have changed throughout the years. This is especially interesting and complicated in the context of the Palestinian refugee problem. Perlov’s voice was one of peace and equality, with a goal of sharing the land with the borders that exist today. This is especially interesting given Israel’s security needs.
While demonstrating for us the borders of Israel and the countries that surround it, he made many of the people in the room get up and stand in a map he had made on the floor out of tape. He proceeded to ask every person to remain standing if they were in a country that was sovereign 100 years ago. Realizing one by one that they shouldn’t still be standing, people began to sit down until only the girl standing in Egypt was still on her feet. He then explained that even Egypt didn’t receive independence from the UK until 1922. This demonstration gave us a new understanding and appreciation for how complicated border disputes in this region are, as well as how (relatively) new they are.
The map made of tape brought borders to life in a way that most of us had never seen. Going through the British Mandate, the UN partition plan, and the 1948 borders as they settled after the War of Independence through the Six Day War in 1967 gave us a tangible view of the ever-changing map of Israel. He then gave a demonstration of the proposed borders and how the two-state solution would affect the country practically, which was unique in giving us a visual picture of the issues that are so often talked about.
Events like this are necessary to understand the complicated and diverse range of political opinions and where they come from. It would be impossible to even begin discussing a two-state solution for peace without the complete understanding of the map of Israel and how it would affect the country today. Perlov was an excellent and informative speaker that left many of us with a new clarity about the borders of Israel and how they can be affected by the politics and peace negotiations that are constantly happening.
Hillel Israel Leadership Initiative (HILI) is for students who want to develop a more comprehensive understanding of Israel. HILI is designed to engage peers in learning about various topics dealing with Judaism and Israel in a creative, fun fashion. Each session consists of a community leader or expert who introduces the topic, followed by peer-led learning using creative outlets such as media, interactive games, and personal presentations. HILI offers a broad overview of many different topics about Israel and is a great way to engage with other students in learning about Israel.
Join us for our next HILI event on at 8:00pm on October 21st to hear an update from Andrew Gross on the situation in Israel and learn about the role of the Consulate. Andrew Gross is the Political Advisor to the Deputy Consul General of Israel in NY. Visit the Facebook event for more information.