Tours for Israelis to the West Bank
The vast majority of Israelis have never been to the West Bank as civilians, staying away for reasons of social pressure, security, fear and legal barriers to entry. On the other hand, quite some have served in the West Bank in the capacity of soldiers enforcing the occupation. Such experience generally reinforces a negative stereotype of Palestinians and a militaristic and a nationalist perspective of the region.
The 5-6 hour long educational tours give Israelis a window into Palestinian life, allowing participants to bear witness to the daily challenges of living under occupation and to learn about Palestinian culture and narratives. Through experiential learning, these tours challenge the mainstream Israeli narrative about the occupation and cause participants to question their own role in the conflict and occupation, empathize with the Palestinians, and begin to seek a different and peaceful future. Each trip is co-lead by an Israeli and a Palestinian CfP member who work together on equal terms and with mutual respect for one another. This model of partnership always makes a powerful impression on participants and helps create an environment that feels safe and non-threatening for participants to fully engage with the emotional reactions to what they are witnessing and experiencing. This environment also facilitates for a sensitive and honest conversation about the topics at hand.
The tours are offered in a variety of locations in the West Bank including: the Bethlehem area, Jericho, Nablus, and East Jerusalem (in partnership with Ir Amim). Some tours may also focus on a particular theme, such as the environmental impact of the occupation – especially in the Jordan valley, where the tour is organised in cooperation with the Jordan Valley Coalition, a coalition of grassroot Israeli and Palestinian NGO-s and civil groups. The Israeli CfP Encounters’ coordinator works hand in hand with the group organizer to build a tour that addresses the educational goals and needs of each group.