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New Participants from Gaza

Ramadan Program in Jericho


One might not think of a day during Ramadan in Jericho's heat as the right setting for a bi-national trip, but it was perfect timing for us.

After years of failed attempts, we finally obtained permits allowing a number of Palestinian residents of Gaza to travel to the West Bank in the company of Israelis.

For some, it was their first opportunity to leave Gaza and meet Israelis. It was many Israelis' first time visiting the Palestinian territories, and meeting Palestinians.

We devoted half of our day to travel and half to conversations.

At an ancient synagogue, we learned of the local Jewish community from the time of early Islamic settlement in the area. Our guide, R. Singer, was inpsired to publish his impressions on The Times of Israel Blog.

At Hisham’s palace we received a tri-lingual lecture from an East Jerusalem headmaster and licensed guide, R. Shamsiyeh. Surprisingly, the palace's design was attributed to Phoenician craftsmen Ya’acob and Yonatan. Another attribution to Phoenician builders is offered in the Book of Ezra 3:7.

The name of the city of Jericho can also be attributed to the Phoenicians. Their Moon God was called Yarhibol (Jericho is Ariha in Arabic, or Yeriho in Hebrew).

Tired from fasting, our group settled into a Jericho resort. Our Palestinian coordinator talked about the importance of Ramadan, and received theological questions in return.

Next, we encouraged our Gaza participants to take the floor and share their thoughts:

"We have lived through four wars in our young age. Gazans understand the meaning of war. We tell you - we want no more of it."

"Here we met wonderful Israelis, nothing like the image we had in mind. We don’t see any problems between us. Perhaps our leaders do."

Dividing ourselves into small groups, we asked each person to share their hopes for the future:

  • One Israeli and one Palestinian expressed identical wishes – "We want to see a changed reality". Later we tried to clarify if the "change" the two sides envision looks the same.

  • A Palestinian expressed his desire to see a free Palestine, and an Israeli replied with a wish for a free Israel!  As it turned out, one was referring to issues of daily life, the other to the problem he perceives of eroded national confidence.

  • One Gaza participant said she wishes to simply live another day. A second said he wishes to live to 50, after-which permits to travel are more easily obtained.

Our wish at Tiyul-Rihla is that both sides continue discovering each other, as we notice on our trips how people repeatedly surprise one another with their points of view.

We hope that mutual understanding will reduce misinterpretations, eliminate false assumptions, and usher in a new phase of Palestinian-Israeli relations.

We hope the next generation of leaders will better understand the "type of change" the other wishes to see, and find a way forward.
Our next program is for professional tour guides. We will examine how The Guide on the Other Side leads tours, what role guides play in shaping narratives and mindsets, the moral dilemmas that arise from it, and what we can do better as educators.

We appreciate the generous support of our donors, partners, and friends

Please consider donating to our project online or by post through our host 501(c)(3) NGO at:

The Center for Emerging Futures
380 E. Parkcenter Blvd.
Suite 300
Boise, ID 83706
In This Newsletter
What We Learned
New Friends from Gaza
Palestinian police guarding
Shalom Al Yisrael Synagogue
or Beit Shahwan House.
Inside a Jericho synagogue.
Lecture on Hisham's Palace.
Visiting Hisham's Palace.
Next to the "Star" of Hisham's Palace.
As Gazans take the floor.
Conversing in small groups.
Sharing our personal stories.
Prayer before breaking fast.
Traditional meal, break fast.
Talking the night away.
Copyright © 2016 Tiyul-Rihla, All rights reserved.

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