The (Arab) college experience

At the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jewish and Arab students frequently cross paths with ample opportunity to talk about the conflict, but rarely talking about it with each other.

The Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, overlooking the capital city, is a microcosm of Israel – boasting a diverse student body. Most importantly, it has Jewish and Arab students from various parts of the country. Yet discussions with them show that most students prefer to insulate themselves; many describe an environment of self-segregation and there is a noticeable lack of discourse regarding the conflict, even though it is present in their everyday lives. They stick to their respective groups and rarely reach out of isolated social circles. There are gaps in culture, age and life experiences – Israeli Jews on average enter university later, after their army service and world travel; Arab students, without having to serve in the army or national service, usually enter at the age of 18. It is easy to understand why the two groups naturally gravitate to their own. Approximately 12 percent of the university’s student population is Arab. “In all, concerning daily socializing, there is a clear separation between the two groups,” says Dan Eran, 25, a Jewish student studying international relations, and adds he has “next to no relations with anyone who is Arab on campus.”

Mor Avisror, 23. an education student, says that while she interacts with Arab students on a daily basis, the relationships tend to be superficial. “It really bothers me that I study with Arab students every day, but I have never had a real conversation with an Arab student. I don’t have any real connection with them.”

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