Some of the participants in the 2014 tour, in front of the Knesset in 2014, where we met with both Arab and Jewish parliamentarians. Their perspectives were very different… Learn more about our tour…
Next week i will head off to Israel/Palestine with a dozen other curious Canadians on a 14 day “Come and See” tour of the region. This year’s tour will take place against the backdrop of the current tensions. We are, of course, very concerned about the security situation for both Palestinians and Jews in the region. So far 40 Palestinians and 9 Israelis have been killed. According to press reports, over 1000 Palestinians have been wounded or arrested by Israeli forces.
But we have been in constant touch with our contacts – both Palestinian and Israeli – over the last few weeks. They reassure us that while the situation is volatile, for tourists it is pretty easy to keep out of the way of the violence, if you want to.
We are not going there to participate in a conflict, but to try to understand its roots.
Our tour is aptly named “Come and See’. It is aimed to allow Canadians to hear a variety of voices, see the reality on the ground, ask questions of politicians, lawyers, civil society organizations, local religious leaders and others, and come to their own conclusions.
It is a study tour – open to various points of view. We want to learn new things and hear different perspectives. We will certainly meet people we don’t agree with.
We will spend 2 weeks travelling around Jerusalem, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Of course we will see the famous religious sites – like the Western (or “Wailing”) Wall, Bethlehem, Nazareth and the Dome of the Rock.
But mostly we will be meeting with Muslims, Christians and Jews to talk about the current situation. With Bedouins and Israeli settlers who have “made Aliyeh” (immigrated to Israel). With members of the Knesset and with representatives of Palestinian NGO’s. With Palestinian refugees who have been waiting for their right to return to their homes since 1948. With Israelis who are trying to find a peaceful way forward. We will take walking tours of several Israeli cities with Israeli guides. And we will also do walking tours with Palestinian guides.
We will visit the controversial “Canada Park” which was established over the remains of 3 Palestinian villages destroyed in 1967 with money given by JNF Canada, and meet one of the people whose family was expelled.And we have asked for a meeting with the Canadian representative in Ramallah.
Two weeks will pass in a flash. It is too short a time to learn anything, really. But at the same time, it will be a voyage of discovery. We are trying to understand the roots of this bitter conflict, and to see what Canadians could do to be helpful in resolving it.
We will let you know what we find when we return.