January 11, 2011
On Sunday, January 9th, a group of master’s students from Brandeis University came to visit the city of Ariel.
The tour began at the Oranit security checkpoint on Highway 5, not far from the armistice lines of 1949. On their approach to Ariel, the students saw picturesque Arab communities along both sides of the road. Upon arriving at the Ariel and Barkan Industrial Parks, the students seemed surprised to discover the nature of coexistence in the so-called “West Bank” amongst the Israeli and Arab employees. The Managing Director of the company storage building — an Arab gentleman
who resides in a village near Tulkarem – spoke of his personal camaraderie with his Israeli colleagues, his appreciation for his terms of employment, the factory day trips that serve to forge bonds among the workers, his personal initiatives to bring friends and family to the factory to appreciate what isn’t exposed in the headlines, and his fear of a Palestinian Authority boycott against the Ariel and Barkan Industrial Parks which threatens his family’s livelihood. Fortunately, our guests from Boston were able to hear these firsthand accounts, none of which they’re likely to see in the mainstream media.
The group continued to the community of Barkan where they had a clear view of Israel’s coastal plain just beneath their feet. Once in Ariel, the group visited the Ariel Regional Center for the Performing Arts, where they learned about the recent boycott and its positive effect on the city of Ariel’s position in the eyes of the Israeli public; the Ariel National Leadership Development Center; the Ariel University Center; the Milken Family Sports and Recreation Complex; the Netzarim community (formerly from Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip) and the Security Fence that runs alongside Ariel.
During their brief tour, the students were exposed to Ariel’s unique strategic significance to Israel’s survival, its progressive measures towards coexistence with its neighbors and its formidable success in providing its residents with the amenities that they, as all others, deserve. It was a pleasure for Friends of Ariel to host this academic group, and we look forward to similar opportunities in the future.