Participants from the Nov ’18 study tour with ICAHD’s Jeff Halper
Londoner Mary Holmes visited the Occupied Palestine Territory and Israel for the first time as a participant in the November Study Tour, recommended by ICAHD UK. A caring person who during her career worked as a teacher and then as a nurse, Mary has been involved with India for 25 years but more recently began her involvement in advocating for Palestinians. Mary decided to participate in the study tour to help her engagement with the locals who stop by the Richmond and Kingston PSC stall.
Mary commented on tour preparation, the itinerary, support provided during the tour and what she found most memorable.
‘From the point of submitting my tour application form to the time of departure, the support provided was excellent. The detailed information and all the advice given were comprehensive and proved to be extremely useful on the trip. I’m very glad to have read Jeff Halper’s Obstacles to Peace before travelling. It really helped my understanding of what I witnessed!
Regarding the itinerary for the 11-day study tour, I thought the programme was absolutely brilliant. It included a complete range of the most important issues with each one very well put across. There were excellent speakers, very professional PowerPoint presentations, memorable walking tours so we could see for ourselves the difficulties of daily life, and lots of opportunities for questions and discussion.
Jeff Halper set the scene for us on the first day taking us on a tour of East Jerusalem, including the towering Wall which separates the West Bank from the city. Throughout the tour we met amazing activists working with refugees, child detainees and Bedouin communities threatened with eviction. We visited the remains of destroyed Palestinian villages where trees had been planted to conceal what had happened. We also spent time with families currently facing house demolition. We heard from journalists, doctors, psychologists, conservation experts, shop owners and an Israeli community activist who provides opportunities for Jewish and Palestinian Israeli girls to play football together. And we shared these experiences with the lovely and varied people on the tour who all want to see justice for Palestinians and Israelis.
The information-sharing and support provided during the tour was fantastic. Our tour leader kept us all informed about the issues we would encounter each day. This was not only about the political situation but also with reference to aspects of social and cultural life, history, the landscape and Palestinian food. She also made use of the specialist knowledge of group members and was very good at answering individuals’ questions and responding to the different members of the group. The de-briefings sessions and discussions with members of the group were valuable.
For me, the most memorable part of the tour was hearing Palestinians and Israelis who were able to explain so clearly what was happening and discuss why it was happening. These were people speaking directly from their personal experience.
Now that I’m back in the UK, when describing the situation in the West Bank, I’m able to quote the views of actual people we met which has helped me to highlight the problems and restrictions of life there. For example, one of the staff of Bethlehem University told us she had been to 15 foreign countries but that she was not allowed to visit Jerusalem, which is just 9 miles from Bethlehem – closer than Ealing is to Central London.’
To learn more about the study tours for 2019, go to https://icahd.org/extended-study-tours/. There is just enough time to apply for the March study tour but you must be quick.