I feel compelled on this page to acknowledge that the issue of Palestinian-Israeli relations is much deeper and more complex than I am capable of grasping. However, having grown up in New York City, I am aware that the news media’s representation of it has been skewed, and a lot of the information on the pages below was new to me before embarking on this trip.
When I left Beit Sahour for Tel Aviv, I felt apprehensive and troubled, and the culture shock was enormous. Thankfully though, I observed a lot of debate and diversity of opinion in Israel.
One person I met in Tel Aviv told me, “You can’t go to the West Bank without understanding all the complexity of the situation.” I respectfully disagree. If we set too high a bar on what people need to know or understand before they go to a troubled place, they will never go and never understand more. Voyeurism and drive-by shooting are definitely a concern, but a trip to a new place can be undertaken in the spirit of compassion and learning, and without claims to objectivity, completeness, or finality. The more people go, the better.
In Beit Ommar, the town with the orchard and the mosque:
In Beit Sahour:
Mazin Qumsiyeh, whose wife Jessie introduced me to the town of Al Walaja:
Books I read before leaving:
Palestine, by Joe Sacco
Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation, by Saree Makdisi
Interview I watched in Tel Aviv:
David Grossman on Charlie Rose
The book I did not read but I should have:
The Iron Cage, by Rashid Khalidi