Friday, August 7, 2015


My brother Greg and I have just finished a week on an Extend Tour ( in Israel and Palestine. The Extend programme was co-founded by a friend of mine who facilitated with Dorm Room Diplomacy a few years ago. The Tours were initially targeted at young American Jews coming to Israel on Birthright or similar programmes – tours that tend to focus on a particular narrative of Israeli politics and society that leaves out many complex voices of the conflict. Extend adds in some of those voices, taking people to meet with a variety of Palestinian and Israeli activists along the peace/conflict spectrum.
After a non-Jewish Marshall Scholar went on an Extend Tour this February, he suggested to Sam that Extend set up a session targeted at graduate students – and so a group of primarily non-Jews (mostly American, though including a few Germans) went around this past week trying to wrap our heads around some small piece of a very complex situation with a million truths and no one single obviously accurate narrative.
Still very much figuring out what all I learned. Given previous study, I certainly knew much of the basic facts presented – but one always hears things put in a slightly different way, or sees something with one’s own eyes that is challenging. I got to see some friends I have made online but never met before and other people I have followed through activist channels.
All good stuff. All very mentally exhausting stuff. Greg and I are now en route to Jordan for a few days of good old regular sightseeing tourism.

 The sights and sounds of the Old City in Jersualem

A Palestinian non-violent activist points out his father's farmland, now overrun by settlements, near Bil'in

Hebron - Football is, indeed, a universal language.
Less optimistically - these two boys were virtually the only family left in an area, after Palestinians were pressured out violently by a variety of settler attacks. The mother and aunt of the family are deaf, and one of the boys is missing an arm.

 Ramallah - the group meets with Sam Bahour, an American Palestinian entrepreneur and activist

 You can buy pretty much anything you like in the marketplaces...

 Extend participants gather in the beautiful gardens of the Austrian Hospice in Jerusalem

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