18/5/12 - 2/6/12 77 °F
In Palestine again, with a full heart. Was there in 2010 with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT - and no, I'm not Christian) and though I thought then that all the years of my working on the issue would have prepared me for this land, in fact, it had not. On that first trip I found more beauty, more anguish and more reason for hope than I could have imagined.
This time it's a trip with my good friend Myrta, who has also done the work for many years, but had not been able to visit till now. This one is organized by InterFaith PeaceBuilders and I have no idea what to expect on this trip, though we will be visiting some places similar to where I went the last time. Particularly pleased because one of the leaders of this delegation is Anna Baltzer, National Organizer with the US Campaign to End the Occupation (http://www.endtheoccupation.org). Our group is composed about 30 people from all over the country, and includes a breathtaking breadth and depth of experience, from early Civil Rights, Puerto Rican, anti-Vietnam War and Central American support to much experience with Palestine. It also includes some young folk just beginning their journey and several who are still struggling with what they have learned is being done in their names as Jews. Many are well-traveled, and some have been here before, as I have.
After a VERY impressive orientation in D.C. by IFPB staft, we headed out. The flight was long and uneventful, though we did learn that Lufthansa now squeezes more humans onto their 747's than is humanly possible.
Landed a couple of hours ago in Tel Aviv, and most of us got in with little or no trouble. One of us, a Palestinian woman, was held for questioning and we're not sure if she's going to get in. We learned they often ask a person if they can open their email and if the answer is no, they are in for several more hours of interrogation and intimidation. Almost all of the time, after many hours of this, the person is let in. Will have more when we learn whether she will join us. Anna is with her, and our other tour leader Phillip and support person Joe are with us at the hotel that will be our headquarters for much but not all of the time.
Already, have had a very interesting ride from Tel Aviv/Ben Gurion airport to E. Jerusalem - about 50 miles. We are accompanied by a Palestinian man who has been doing these IFPB tours for a long time, lives here, and shared much important information. Unfortunately, many of us were so exhausted we didnt catch it all. We passed many areas that were Palestinian land in '48, and from which the people were expelled by the Haganah and Irgun, at gunpoint, Lod and Ramle just two of them.
The area is as beautiful as I remembered it and will have pictures the next time I write. Have to quit now , with much, much more, and far more interesting, reports to come. Looking forward to a VERY busy schedule, starting at 6 a.m. tomorrow.''Not much more to say this first evening of arrival.