Jonathan Hadad (Israel/Canada, AC 09-11)
After finishing two mind-blowing years in Atlantic College in Wales, I finally moved from Israel to Canada. Now there’s no question about it- I am officially a global citizen. The irony is that, like the UWC movement, I am devoted to change the circumstances that brought me to this point- conflict. I decided not to go back to Israel because I disagree with Israel’s existence along with any other country which I see as racist by definition. Israel is defined as a Jewish country, creating an inevitably hierarchal system that categorizes its citizens. Slightly but crucially different sets of rights and obligations have developed over the years, clearly discriminating non-Jewish people. Paying taxes in Israel would make me feel guilty, but to serve in its occupying army, as demanded by law for Jews at 18, was always out of the question.
The Arab-Israeli conflict is close to my heart. I have family and friends living in Israel whom I can not visit because flying back would mean guaranteed imprisonment, because I left before serving in the army. Luckily, my mother’s family including her is all living in Canada, which made my experience of immigration feel more like an extended vacation.
As soon as I got off the plane I started looking for organizations to volunteer for. One person I had the privilege to work for was Nobel peace prize nominee, Izzeldin Abuelaish. In January 2009 during the Israeli attack in Gaza, three of his daughters were killed by an Israeli tank shell. This tragedy did not weaken his resolve to act for humanity. He continued to work in an Israeli hospital, treating both Israeli and Palestinian patients. He now lives in Toronto with his family and continues to work on various projects all over the world to propagate peace in the Middle East.
As always, I feel like I’ve gained much more than what I’ve given for this cause. I am certain that if people would simply have contact with each other from two sides of a conflict, and share their common humanity in other ways than nationalism, the conflict would lose meaning and importance and there could be a chance for peace.
-United World College Student Magazine-