Saturday, November 17, 2007

Alternative Travel Possibilities - November 2007 Update

Here is a list of possibilities for alternative travel in Palestine and Israel. At the web page of Peace Not Walls, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's campaign for justice in the Holy Land, find this site for accompaniment travel:
and an excellent downloadable guide to visiting the churches of the Holy Land:

I plan to take a group to the Holy Land myself in June 2008. Keep an eye on these pages for detailed information to come.

Alternative Holy Land Travel List
Updated Nov. 17, 2007
For continued updates see - Friends of Sabeel-North America

Holy Land Trip - Nov. 27–Dec. 7, 2007
See the Real Holy Land behind the Tourism, leaving from Detroit Metro and flying into Tel Aviv, with time in Galilee, Jerusalem, and the Bethlehem Region. For nearly 60 years the people of Palestine and Israel have lived in a state of chronic tension and military conflict. This is the religious epicenter of the three Abrahamic Faiths, and of course the stakes are high; peace or bloodshed has ramifications for the entire world. Join us for a ten-day trip that will not only include holy sites, but also highlight areas of conflict in the West Bank and Israel. $2000 includes airfare, meals, and lodging.
Contact Lutheran Pastor Marty Zimmann, 734-693-4377, E-Mail:

Global Exchange, Palestine/Israel: Prospects for Peace with Justice - Dec. 2-12, 2007
As the Israeli military continues to place Palestinian towns, villages and refugee camps under siege, Palestinians continue to resist the 39 year Occupation of their land. Global Exchange delegations to Palestine/Israel strive to further understanding in the USA of the region's history and realities by giving participants first-hand exposure to the aspirations and frustrations of Palestinians living under Occupation, the dimensions of the human rights crisis under Israeli rule, as well as the perspectives of Palestinians and Israelis who are working for a just peace and an end to the occupation. For detailed information go to the web page:
Upcoming 2008 Prospects for Peace with Justice tours: April 5-15, August 2-12, and Dec. 6-16. For details, see

The Bethlehem Christmas Project – Dec. 7-15, 2007
Former Israeli soldiers and Palestinians will work together to deliver Christmas gifts to children in Bethlehem. The Bethlehem Christmas Project has partnered with Musalaha (a ministry of reconciliation operating within Israel and the Palestinian Territories) to bring together two peoples usually thought of as mortal enemies. The goal is to build bridges of understanding and bring hope to children. Participants will have the opportunity to receive lectures from the Dean of Academics of Bethlehem Bible College. Christian leaders, young and old, who understand the power of love to change the world are invited to participate. If you believe you can make a difference, contact us about this opportunity.
Contact e-mail:
The web site:
For a video look at the project:

Journey of the Magi - a Pilgrimage for Peace, Dec.14-28, 2007
In the year 2000, Christians from all over the world gathered in the Middle East to recreate the Journey of the Magi (or "the wise men") to honor the birth of the Prince of Peace. On foot and on camel the pilgrims traveled over 1,000 miles through Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Along the way the journey members met with local religious and community leaders. The story was widely covered by newspapers, radio and TV stations in the United States, Europe and throughout the Middle East. In the fall of 2007, Christians will again recall the Journey of the Magi. We invite you and your church group to join us for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to honor Christ in the Middle East. While the full 99 day JOM journey will next occur in 2010, you are invited to join the “Steps of the Magi” two-week long journey from the Jordan River to Bethlehem, where the pilgrims will arrive on Christmas Eve 2007! For more information, email or phone 626-797-7904 or visit website:


Group Travel Directors: Holy Land visits by US church groups listed below are arranged by Group Travel Directors, Minneapolis. Meetings with indigenous Christians plus Israeli and Palestinian peace groups, as well as biblical -site visits, are included. Prices are from cities cited (other US departure points available). For details on Group Travel tours, go to - click “Find a Tour,” enter “2007,” then “Middle East.”

Jan. 3-19, 2008 - The World of the Bible: Ancient Sites and Current Struggles in the Holy Land. Sponsored by Wartburg Theological Seminary (Dubuque, Iowa), led by Dr. Ann Fritschel, associate professor of Hebrew Bible. $3025 from Chicago. Contact Dr. Fritschel:

Feb. 18-29 - Prospects for Peace, sponsor: Lutheran World Relief (LWR). $2895 from Newark.
For information go to or contact Terri Mork Speirs at or phone 515-243-7691, x 434. Walk where Jesus walked, and where Lutheran World Relief has worked almost non-stop since 1945. In a region filled with history and paradox, there are plenty of peace-makers. LWR invites you to meet people on the ground who are doing what Jesus did — healing the sick, feeding the hungry and teaching the children. Participants will visit Christian and historical pilgrimage sites and significant archaeological ruins in the Bet She’an valley. Meet LWR partner organizations working toward sustainable solutions to the region’s complex issues, including the Dar el Kalima Health and Wellness Center, the Augusta Victoria Hospital and the Lutheran World Federation Vocational School.

Apr. 1-15 - “...on Holy Ground,” led by Pr. Paul and Phyllis Gilbertson of Denver; includes 4 days in Egypt. $3575, Denver.

Apr. 17-28 - “Holy Land: Then and Now, ” led by Dr. Arland Jacobson of Charis Ecumenical Center, Moorhead, Minn. (optional Egypt extension). $3022, MSP.

Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation - Jan. 7-20, 2008
Join Fr. Michael Salah in a Unique Ecumenical Pilgrimage to the Holy Land and fact-finding mission to see the holy sites in Jordan, Palestine and Israel and meet with the Christian communities there. This trip will include an opportunity to participate in the Fourth Ecumenical Children's Journey to Bethlehem and a chance to attend an International Peace Conference also being planned in Bethlehem (both sponsored by HCEF). This pilgrimage will include the exciting new archaeological find at Bethany Beyond the Jordan marking the spot where John baptized Jesus. A very important feature will be the opportunity for pilgrims to visit, share meals and worship with the Palestinian Christians in villages throughout the Holy Land and observe first hand the full impact of the occupation and the Wall on the lives of Palestinians. Meetings will be organized with political and religious leaders of the area. The cost of the pilgrimage is $3100 (including round trip airfare, all meals and tips) from any major international airport in the US. Reservations must be made no later than November 30, 2007.
Contact: Gail Freeman 1-866-871-4234 or e-mail
Additional HCEF Pilgrimage/Fact Finding Missions:
February 2-15, 2008 - Pilgrimage/Fact Finding Mission organized by First Presbyterian Church, Boulder, Colo.
May 2008 - Pilgrimage/Fact Finding Mission organized by Fr. Alex Kratz, O.F.M., Detroit, Mich.
June 2008 - Pilgrimage/Fact Finding Mission organized by St. Andrew Catholic Church, Milford, Ohio
For more information contact: Gail Freeman, Pilgrimage Coordinator, Toll free at 1-871-4234 or E-mail:
See the web page for general information:

United Theological Seminary - January 8-22, 2008
Dr. David Watson, the Rev. Dr. Gary Olin
15 Day Inter-cultural Program Experience including Jordan, Israel, the West Bank.
For information:

Birthright Unplugged (for international passport holders) - January 11-16, 2008
Unplugged trips are designed primarily for North American Jewish people, though we welcome people of all backgrounds. Our participants have been ages 12-70. In six days, we visit Palestinian cities, villages and refugee camps in the West Bank and spend time with internally displaced Palestinian people living inside Israel. Throughout the journey, we help participants develop an understanding of daily life under occupation and the history of the region from people profoundly affected by and under-represented in Western discourses about the occupation. We encourage participants to be deeply reflective and after the program we support their involvement in human rights and justice oriented efforts. For more information go to the web page:

Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace - January 12-19
The Meretz USA Israel Symposium, co-sponsored by Brit Tzedek v’Shalom and Meretz USA, is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to reinvigorate your activism for peace. The Symposium is a highly-packed week with personal meetings with members of Knesset representing many parties, a day in Ramallah meeting with top Palestinian leaders, settlement leaders in the West Bank. We will spend time with a variety of peace activists including Peace Now, the Geneva Initiative, Breaking the Silence, All for Peace, Moussawa, Women in Black and much more. We will take the B’Telem Jerusalem Envelope Tour and will have the exciting opportunity to interview the interviewers when we meet with journalists such as Akiva Eldar, Zvi Barel, Amira Hass and Danny Rubenstein. For people who dedicate their time and energy to the pursuit of peace, this is a wonderful way to renew yourself and come back to your community with stories, pictures, and firsthand accounts.
See the brochure:
Cost: $1700 per person, double occupancy; $2100 per person, single occupancy Israel land package. Approximately $1000 additional costs for trip to Jordan. Call: MeretzUSA: 212-242-4500.

Western Mission Cluster of the ELCA - Jan. 14-29, 2008
Holy Land — Its Prayers, Peoples, Places: Go where prayers come from Muslims, Jews, Christians. Witness first-hand the faiths in their poignant praying for peace. View the struggle among Palestinian and Israeli peoples with varied histories and cultures, and hear their hopes. Visit ancient religious places; experience present geo-political realities; imagine possible futures. As Christians we will offer our own prayers; as peoples of quite different histories we’ll reflect on our own cultural tendencies; as citizens from different places we’ll encounter our own global responsibilities. Cost: $2,925 from Minneapolis. Leader: Prof. Gary Simpson, Luther Seminary: – ph: 651-641-3253. The Western Mission Cluster of the ELCA is a collaborative organization funded jointly by Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., and Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, Calif.

In the Footsteps of Jesus - An Alternative Tour, Jan. 18-28, 2008
Jeff Wright, pastor at Fort Collins’ Heart of the Rockies Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), will host the tour to Israel and Palestine. Many of the first-century realities that shaped Jesus' life and ministry continue to shape the lives of contemporary Palestinians and Israelis. In addition to exploring the holy sties of Jerusalem, the Galilee and Bethlehem, tour participants will visit with Disciples of Christ and United Church of Christ Global Ministry mission partners and Jews, Muslims and Christians living in the Holy Land. Sabeel Jerusalem staff member, Cathy Nichols, a Disciples/UCC missionary, will accompany the group much of the time. Jeff and Janet Wright having been traveling to Israel and Palestine for several years as Disciples/UCC Global Ministries short-term missionaries, working with the East Jerusalem YMCA Rehabilitation Program in Beit Sahour. Contact Jeff at or 970/223-8465.

United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries, Feb. 3-15, 2008 2008
Mission Travel Study to Palestine & Israel - Mission, Education & Advocacy for Israel & Palestine. This study will help the participants to learn about the history and complexities of relationships between Israel and Palestine. We will explore and understand the concepts of security and freedom that dominate the lives of these peoples. This study will challenge participants to move through tolerance respect to achieve a just peace. See the web page for travel information:

Middle East Fellowship provides a number of ways to visit Palestine. For details check to web page - or e-mail -
Northwest Churches Easter Holy Land Trip - March 14-29, 2008
Meet the indigenous churches of the Holy Land (including Lutherans!, tour all the key sights in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jericho, Nazareth, etc; enjoy home stays with local Christians in Bethlehem; and much much more! Cost: $3500
Open tour of the Holy Land, similar to above - June 2-12, 2008
Contact Peter Ryan:
Now entering its 5th year, PSE offers three sequential 1-month sessions, beginning in late May 2008 and continuing through mid-August. Includes Home Stays, Arabic Study, volunteer Service-Learning and meeting with a wide variety of Palestinian and Israeli peace-with-justice and reconciliation groups. See “Eight Reasons to Come to Palestine in 2008” - http://www.palestinesummer/org
July 2008: House Rebuilding Team in Palestine
Working with Israelis and Palestinians, we will rebuild a house that had been destroyed by the advancing Israeli army. [exact dates in July TBD]
Olive Tree Harvest trip: October/November 2008
Working alongside Palestinian families and with international activists from Israel and around the world, we will help pick olives and thus help a local Palestinian family keep their farm from being expropriated by the Israeli government to build settlements, the Wall or military installations. [exact dates in fall TBD]. Contact Peter Ryan:

Congressional Accompaniment Project Tour (CAP), March 15-24, 2008
Friends of Sabeel–North America and the Presbytery of East Iowa are among the co-sponsors of this hands-on educational experience for members of Congress, their foreign policy aides and their local constituents. The Congressional Accompaniment Project is a travel program by which Americans, concerned for a just peace in Israel/Palestine, can assist their Congressional representatives and/or their foreign policy Aides to be more informed regarding the “facts on the ground” in Israel and Palestine. For an application and more information, go to

Interfaith Peace-Builders
Since 2001, Interfaith Peace-Builders has led 20 delegations and more than 250 people to Israel and Palestine. Our delegates have returned to undertake speaking, writing, and organizing to educate others about their experiences. Formerly a program of Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), Interfaith Peace-Builders continues to work in close partnership with FOR. For information see the web page - or call 244-0821 or e-mail:

Voices of the Peacemakers: Palestinians and Israelis Chart a Shared Future - March 29 – April 12, 2008
Interfaith Peace-Builders is currently developing plans for a co-sponsored delegation with the National Peace Foundation in March/April, 2008. This delegation will feature meetings with Palestinian and Israeli peacemakers – leaders of civil society groups, grassroots organizers and more. The trip will also include themes relevant to the three major monotheistic faiths during the spring holiday cycle. And activists and historians will address the history of the conflict reaching back 60 years to the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe) and the creation of the State of Israel (which will be the major focus of IFPB’s May – June delegation). The National Peace Foundation has developed people to people exchanges and dialogue projects in locations around the world. The collaboration between IFPB and NPF promises to open new dimensions to our work in the Middle East and North America. Learn more:

Legacies of 1948: 60 Years of Searching for Justice - May 24 – June 7, 2008
2008 marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel and Al Nakba - the Palestinian "Catastrophe" of 1948 when 750,000 Palestinians were forced to flee their homes in what is now Israel. This delegation, co-sponsored with the American Friends Service Committee, will focus on this dual narrative and the pivotal role of 1948 in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The trip will feature meetings with Palestinians and Israelis who lived through the events of 1948 and witnessed its impact on history and identity. The group will tour Palestinian refugee camps, where the descendants of the original 750,000 have grown to more than 5 million, and the ruins of Palestinian villages within Israel which testify to the displacement. Meetings will also be held with Palestinian and Israeli activists, historians, and public figures who will share perspectives on the past 60 years and consider prospects for historical justice.

Middle East Children's Alliance Delegation to Palestine/Israel - July 1-12, 2008
For nineteen years, MECA has taken small groups to visit Palestine/Israel. On MECA's twelve-day delegation you will be taken on a geographic, political, historical and cultural tour of Palestine/Israel by two MECA staff people, and Yacoub Odeh, refugee, former political prisoner, and human rights worker. We will travel by van to witness the impact of the Israeli occupation and visit organizations working for justice and equality. You will learn about refugees, land confiscation, political prisoners, women's initiatives, mental and physical health issues, civil rights in Israel, and the lives of children. The group of eight to twelve people will stay at the guesthouse of MECA's long-time partner Ibdaa Cultural Center in Dheisheh Refugee Camp, near Bethlehem. Ibdaa is a lively place in the heart of the community with great food and comfortable accommodations. Trip Cost: $1,800. For much more information go to

Investing in Peace: Models for Addressing an Ongoing Occupation - July 26 – August 9, 2008
World leaders and Civil Society Groups have increasingly termed Israel’s domination of the Palestinian territories as a form of Apartheid. This delegation will examine the structural segregation of Israeli and Palestinian space and the physical separation of the two peoples. You will also explore methods proposed by Israeli, Palestinian and international peacemakers to challenge the Israeli occupation. Meetings will address the ongoing debate surrounding boycott and divestment from companies which support the occupation. Additional meetings will explore opportunities for investment in projects which promote peace and cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians.

Trees of Peace: 2008 Olive Harvest Delegation - October/November 2008 (exact dates pending
This delegation, co-sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee, will provide an opportunity to participate in the Palestinian olive harvest season - generally a time of great community activism, where people of all ages from Palestine, Israeli peace and justice groups, and international groups join farmers as they reap their harvest. It is international support that makes the harvest possible in many cases. You will hear from Palestinian farmers and learn of the importance of agriculture to the Palestinian economy and culture. As with other delegations, you will also meet additional Israelis and Palestinians working for peace and justice. For information call 244-0821 or e-mail:

Walk the Green Line - May 29-31
A three-day experience that will make a direct contribution to supporting the efforts of Israelis and Palestinians who are working for peace. Walk the green line - - is a fundraising walk-a-thon and a political act whose purpose is to mark the 60th anniversary of the UN decision to partition Israel/Palestine into two states - one for the Jews and one for the Palestinians. Israelis, Palestinians and international participants will trek for three days along the route of the Green Line demarcating the border between Israeli and Palestinian territory. Walk the Green Line will support the work of IPCRI - the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and information - - a joint Israeli-Palestinian peace center and think-tank in Jerusalem bringing Israelis and Palestinians together in people-to-people programs that advance peace. Each participant will be required to raise 2,000 € or $2,500 plus their airfare to Israel/Palestine. Sponsors may be friends, family, work colleagues, neighbors, churches or synagogues, etc. More than just a Walk, each day will feature educational-political programs as well, stopping to learn about the areas where we are walking, meeting people along the way including Israelis and Palestinians who are working for peace. We will see first hand the Israeli security barrier – both fences and walls - with a special focus on the wall in Jerusalem. For more information:

Seventh International Sabeel Conference – Nov. 12-19, 2008
Program and registration details will be posted at

Christmas in Bethlehem with Elisabeth Von Trapp - December 2008
“Tidings of Comfort and Joy,” a pilgrimage to the place of Christ's birth during the Christmas season, singing hymns, bringing the "Sound of Music" to lift hearts and souls along the way. Elisabeth Von Trapp will perform concerts in Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Amman, Jordan. Participants who are singers will be invited to lift their voices in song during these Christmas concerts. Pilgrimage leaders are Lutheran Pastors Michael and Susan Thomas, both well acquainted with the region, the holy places, and the situation facing all the people in the land. Meet with local families to experience a true Palestinian Christmas. Lodgings in very comfortable Christian guest houses. Approximate cost $3,300. Group Travel Directors - - is handling all arrangements in cooperation with the International Center of Bethlehem. For specific information e-mail Elisabeth Von Trapp - - or Michael Thomas - Michael.P.Thomas@Dartmouth.EDU

Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
For information about unique tour through ICAHD, go to
ICHAD tours allow participants to glean in-depth information about the situation on the ground; meet key players on both sides of the divide who work for a just peace for Israelis and Palestinians. Return home as eye-witnesses and the authority to speak with first-hand knowledge. Cost includes direct flights with British Airways, transportation to and from Ben Gurion Airport, hotel accommodation including bed, breakfast and evening meal, tips, the full tour itinerary and material for tour preparation and de-briefing. For the full itinerary and application form, please contact or call the ICAHD UK office: 020-7383-3893.

Five Insight Trips planned by Hands Across the Nile
Join us as we explore the history, religions, culture, and development efforts of one of the world's oldest nations. HANDS' Insight Trips allow visitors to look beyond the famous tourist sites to discover the vibrant, multifaceted Egypt of today. Emphasizing person to person experience across a full cross-section of Egyptian society, Insight Trips provide an intimate, eye opening introduction to a fascinating and unforgettable land. For more information see the web page:

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