Here are some possibilities for a visit to Israel and to Occupied Palestine. There is no substitute for an on-the-ground visit: meeting Israelis and Palestinians, listening to their stories, eating their food, visiting some of the places you have read about. To pay a visit to Israel-Palestine, and then to return to Canada and offer first-person testimony and experience to your friends and connections is to make a vital contribution to the eventual resolution of the conflict.
And here are five possibilities, offered by organizations for which we can vouch (details available via the web links below).
(1) A Compassionate Listening “delegation.” A number of us on the BBV planning team have taken a CL tour, and cannot speak too highly of the program. The next one coming up will take place August 4-15, and be led by Yael Petretti, American-born, longtime resident of Israel, and accredited guide.
(2) Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), a respected solidarity organization in the US, is offering a “peace journey” from October 14 to 25.
(3) The National Council on Canada-Arab Relations (NCCAR) is offering a “come and see for yourself” trip to Israel-Palestine Nov 3-16, led by Peter Larson (who just spoke at a BBV-NCCAR presentation in Vancouver on May 27). Peter has been to the region several times, led one previous tour, and made more than a hundred presentations on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
(4) The Partners in Mission Unit of the United Church of Canada is offering a program November 11-22 called “Expanded Life Seminar – Palestine/Israel.” It is an ecumenical program, developed in response to the Kairos Palestine call of 2009, “Come and see.”
(5) Natalie (Nan) Maxson, formerly on the staff of the World Council of Churches, now on the staff of Naramata Centre (naramatacentre.net), and recently returned from three months as an EAPPI (Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel) volunteer, will be the leader of a “Pilgrimage of Solidarity” Nov 18-30.
(6) Sabeel—the Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre in Jerusalem (sabeel.org) is sponsoring its 9th international conference Nov 19-25.
See also Canadian Friends of Sabeel (sabeel.ca / firstname.lastname@example.org)
A special note
Nan’s pilgrimage cohort will start its time in Israel-Palestine by taking part in the Sabeel conference, and then carry on with visits to the West Bank and elsewhere. Participants in the NCCAR trip might also be able to co-ordinate their time in the area with the Sabeel conference, with a three-day break in between.
Or, plan your own trip/journey/delegation/pilgrimage …
The Alternative Tourism Group (ATG) is a Palestinian NGO specializing in tours and pilgrimages that include critical examinations of the history, culture, and politics of the Holy Land.
Established in 1995, ATG operates according to the tenets of justice tourism, that is, tourism that holds as its central goals the creation of economic opportunities for the local community, positive cultural exchange between guest and host through one-on-one interaction, the protection of the environment, and political/historical education.
ATG works to encourage all tourism operators to abandon exploitive mass tourism and to adopt practices that positively affect the host population. Through these methods, ATG seeks to promote a positive image of Palestine and its people and to contribute to the establishment of a just peace in the area.
ATG works with a wide range of groups and delegations that include
• international solidarity groups
• academic and fact-finding delegations
• church groups concerned with social justice
• diplomats, journalists, and researchers
• NGOs and political organizations
• tourists and pilgrimage groups
For further information …