January 17-18, Jericho-Bethlehem
On January 17, we took over 60 Palestinian and Israeli participants on a two day excursion to Jericho and Bethlehem. The first leg of our journey included a hike from St. George’s Monastary, through Wadi Kelt ending at the Herodian Winter Palace outside of Jericho. We then visited Shalom Al Yisrael Synagogue, Hisham’s Palace and Tel Jericho. We finished our first day with a beautiful sunset view from the top of the “Mount of Temptations”.
We began our second day in Bethlehem with a riveting tour of the Old City and a visit to David’s Wells. This was followed by a tour of the Church of the Nativity and a walk through downtown Bethlehem. We concluded our trip at Solomon’s Pools with a discussion of history, narrative and perspective.
In addition to learning history, we also enjoyed meals together, sat side-by-side on the bus, shared rooms at the hotel, stayed up late talking and made lasting friendships.
The group dynamic was great and we had many powerful discussions. The conversations were not easy, as we touched on sensitive and important issues; however, through our discussions and reflections, we came to some important realizations.
One Palestinian participant noted in the article he published in the Jerusalem Post: "Even though each side has different narratives and even different explanations for historical events and places... We can learn to be proud of both our narratives and our shared historical home."
And an Israeli participant articulated: "My goal here is to meet the other side. To confront my prejudice and learn about them."