Day 15 - Understanding

Day 15-Understanding We are writing these study postings each day on the seminar, and as we travel we collect material to post immediately, as well as later in Lent.  As we approached the theme for this week, attempting to share five blog posts that should convey some better understanding of Israel and Palestine, we asked seminar participants: “If you could only share five things, what would you want blog readers to understand about this land and its peoples?”

The first post was about size, climate, topography and demographics.  Another "most important thing to understand" is the incredible hospitality that we experienced from both Israelis and Palestinians.   People have been eager to share their time, their stories, and to generously offer refreshment even in humble homes like those of Palestinian refugees.  

As contentious as this part of the world can be, we were warmly welcomed by Jews, Christians and Muslims.  We were welcomed by leaders—religious, academic and political.  And we were welcomed by students, families, and even strangers along the way.  Hospitality has long been a trademark of this region.  

Last night we shared a meal with a recent YDS grad, Will Brown, and his wife, Erin.  They are volunteering as teachers in Nazareth this year at Baptist schools. When asked about their experience, they immediately spoke of the generous hospitality of friends and neighbors here and how they were made to feel welcomed like family almost immediately upon arrival. 

One of the signs of hope in this land is that, despite the political divides, at a people-to-people level there is hope that eventually they can live together and again be good neighbors.  Palestinian students at Bethlehem University spoke both of the stress and harassment they experience from the Israeli occupation.  However, at the same time they told of how they look forward to the day when they can again have Jewish friends.  Since the Occupation Wall was erected, it has not been possible for most Palestinian students in the occupied territories and Israeli students to connect and be friends with one another.

Tomorrow we will begin to introduce friends we have made who may contribute to better understanding.