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BPFNA Friendship Tour to the Holy Land Begins February 15, 2009


February 10, 2009 | bpfna

A delegation led by BPFNA board member Barb Taft will take part in a Friendship Tour to the Holy Land February 15 - March 2, 2009. The tour will visit Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and the West Bank, with a transit through Syria.

The itinerary includes visits to Palestinian refugee camps, historical and holy sites, cities, towns, villages, and Israeli settlements. The group will meet with peace and justice activists, leaders in the various religious communities, journalists, political figures, instructors, and ordinary citizens, including:
  • Representatives of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom sections in Lebanon, Israel, and Palestine
  • Staff of UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine), who will host our visit to refugee camps, including Baqaa Camp in Jordan, which houses three-quarters of a million inhabitants
  • Volunteers and staff with ICAHD—Israelis Committee Against House Demolitions—who will show us the Separation Wall and its consequences for the Palestinians in its path
  • Representatives of B’Tselem (a Jewish organization) and Al Haq (a Palestinian one), who work on legal issues related to the thousands of laws in effect as a consequence of occupation
  • Journalist Rami Khouri, a Palestinian living in Amman, Jordan, and reporting on life in Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and the Occupied Territories
  • Fr. Elias Chakour, a Melkite priest in the Galillee, who has devoted his life to peacefully obtaining the rights of people expelled from two villages there when Israel was established
  • Members of Yesh G’Vul (There are Limits), Israeli soldiers who refuse to serve in the Occupied Territories
  • A representative of Rabbis for Human Rights
  • Participants in Dialogue groups which try to help Jews and Arabs understand one another’s viewpoint
  • Bereaved family members—Jews and Arabs—who refuse to view “the other” as “the enemy”
  • Former Israeli soldiers and former Palestinian terrorists who have decided not to be enemies any longer
Among the sites to be visited by the delegation are:
  • Beirut, Tripoli, and the Cedars of Lebanon
  • Ancient ampitheatre in Amman, as well as the ancient city of Jerash, an archeological site dating back to the Roman era
  • Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Wailing Wall, as well as the Haram as Sherif, with the glorious Dome of the Rock
  • The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem
The primary goal of this BPFNA Friendship Tour is to build a greater level of understanding among the participants of the many complexities of the Middle East region by coming to know the people for whom it is not only a story in the news, but the daily lives they live. It is hoped that participants will speak before groups upon their return home, as well as write articles and letters to the editor, helping to interpret the region’s complexities to a broad audience.

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