Today’s post comes from Rob E…
On Saturday we met with Dr. Husam Zomlot, the Executive Deputy Commissioner, FATAH Commission for International Relations at his office in Ramallah in the West Bank. Husam is a charismatic, articulate, and a passionate spokesperson for the Palestinian cause. He is a forceful and convincing advocate for the two state solution and he cited story and story of injustice heaped upon his people by the “occupiers”. He didn’t give an inch, which is not exactly true: he doesn’t support violence by his own people perpetrated against innocents).
On Sunday we met with a Rabbi from Gush Etzion, a settlement village near Bethlehem. The Rabbi was every bit as passionate a spokesperson for the right wing settlement movement, though he repeatedly insisted he spoke only for himself. Bottomline: the Rabbi thinks the two state solution is unrealistic and he believes the entire land of Israel,including the West Bank, belongs to the Jews. He also didn’t give an inch, though that’s not exactly true either: he would consider reparations to Palestinians if it led to a lasting peace.
We learned (or relearned) these truths from Husam and the Rabbi:
  • The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is crazy-complex, much beyond any complexity we had known of previously to coming to Israel. Now we know we know that truth in spades.
  • The parties, as represented by Husam and the Rabbi, are totally dug in on their respective positions, almost blinded by their own passions, and are equally convinced that the other side shoulders all of the blame. Listening to them was disheartening and peace would seem a very long ways off.

On Sunday late afternoon we met with Rami Elhanan and Baasam Aramin of The Parents Circle, an organization comprising 600 Israeli and Palestinian families who have suffered the loss of family members to the conflict. Rami and Baasam were a breath of fresh air. They each shared with us their pain and stories of loss and tragedy. They had both moved on from hate and recrimination, however. Each man had done major and impressive work in healing his deeply wounded heart and even forgiven the other side. Improbable though it would seem from their stories, they seemed genuinely to love one another.

Here’s what we learned from Baasam and Rami:

  • There is hope.
  • The conflict is not as complex, after doing the incredibly hard work of learning to forgive and love.
  • The international community must neither abandon nor judge either side to the conflict. We must put pressure on both sides to embrace peace.

This blog post is brought to you by Rob E.

I just ordered these five books just in time to bring with us to Israel and Palestine. I could have ordered a dozen from Mejdi’s great reading list, but I had to stop somewhere! These books can form the basis of a lending library during our trip. Want a book to fall asleep by or read on the bus? Pick one of these, if you wish!

Side by Side: Parallel Histories of Israel-Palestine by Sami Adwan  2012, 398 PAGES
Developed by Israeli and Palestinian teachers, these essays present each society’s version of events – literally side by side – highlighting both shared opinions and deep differences.

Israel / Palestine by Alan Dowty  2012, 269 PAGES
 The third edition, fully revised and updated, of Dowty’s respected introduction to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

What Is a Palestinian State Worth? by Sari Nusseibeh  2011, 234 PAGES 
The president of and a professor at Al-Quds University, the Arab University of Jerusalem, philosopher and former PLO representative in Jerusalem, Nusseibeh offers a tentative way out of the 60-year-old Arab-Israeli conflict.

The Israel-Arab Reader: A Documentary History of the Middle East Conflict, 7th Edition by Walter Laqueur  2008, 592 PAGES 
Organized chronologically, this newly revised primer includes speeches, letters, articles, timelines and reports dealing with the continuing conflict in the Middle East.

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Tough Questions, Direct Answers by Dale by Bourke and Dale Hanson  2013, 142 PAGES
 With maps, charts, photos, and quotes, Dale Hanson Bourke’s skeptic’s guide, written from the perspective of an American Christian, answers such tough questions as: What is meant by a two-state solution? Who are the Palestinian Christians? Do other countries help or hurt the peace process? How does the Arab spring affect the conflict?

This blog post is brought to you by Rob E.

I am excited about our coming trip to Israel. Although it will be my second time in Israel, this time will be very different. I am looking forward to meeting new colleagues (both Jews and Arabs) who have dedicated their lives to peacemaking. I want to soak up new perspectives, tools, and ways that I may become a more effective peacemaker. I expect to be uncomfortable at times and to grow from that. I expect to bond even more closely with Creativity for Peace board members, emeritus board members, supporters, and staff so that together we may become more effective and even more passionate about this work. See you soon, and now back to packing!

~ Rob E

 

This blog post is brought to you by Monica G.

Having grown up in Israel, where my family and many good friends still live, and where I have gone for visits every couple of years for forty years, this trip for me is indeed unique. It is like stepping out of my own self and looking at what is so familiar and taken-for-granted with new eyes, or a new mirror.  I am excited about the opportunity to meet so many people I would not have had the opportunity to meet otherwise, to visit in Palestine, and to spend time with everyone in the group. I am also looking forward to the crazy, amazing breakfasts in the Israeli hotels, which will also require going to the fitness room every day…

See you!  Monica

Today’s blog post comes from Jill H…

I am winding down my business activities this week, as I get ready to embark on my first trip to Israel and Palestine.  I spend 2-6 weeks every year in international travels, largely leading fellow textile collectors and aficionados.  This is my first trip to Israel and Palestine, and my first in a long time, going as a participant, not a leader.  I am very excited on so many levels:  1) experiencing a country with such diverse perspectives, and with such depth of history, 2) having the opportunity to share observations and learning with so many other people with whom I have no real history–no group think! 3) I am open to how this will be a life-changing experience for me.   I appreciate everyone’s involvement in shaping this upcoming trip–Dottie, Lamia, Sue, Mejdi team, and all the people (especially our CFP girls and staff) with whom we will meet!