In January, I'll be joining a group of students, faculty and clergy associated with Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS) on an interfaith study tour of Israel and Palestine. The tour is sponsored by CTS's Center for Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Studies. My participation is being sponsored by the Pacific University Center for Peace and Spirituality, which I direct, the Office of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Pacific University, and a generous financial gift to Pacific. Some of you reading will know that I earned by Doctor of Ministry degree at CTS. It will be nice to reunite with colleagues and friends from Chicago for this trip. The outcome professionally will be a new course proposal on Israel-Palestine to be taught at Pacific.
My intention will be to blog about the trip here.
Among the books I've been reading in preparation for the trip are:
- Alan Dowty, Israel/Palestine
- Yossi Klein Halevi, At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden
- Sari Nusseibeh, Once Upon a Country
Interfaith Just Peacemaking: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives on the New Paradigm of Peace and War (Susan Thistlethwaite, ed.) is among a list of other recommended books and journals.
Where will we travel? The trip itinerary is packed with visits, tours, lectures and community building opportunities across Israel and Palestine.
For me, the goal is to learn and build new relationships. The conflict in Israel - Palestine is complex and the human rights situation a crisis. It worries me that these complexities are turned into black and white issues. As I have stated before, I believe strongly that the two-state solution remains the only viable possibility for peace - a point President Obama restated this week - and I reject the notion that Israel is an "Apartheid" state or that Palestine is simply a terrorist haven that is ungovernable.
As I have written before, I believe that interfaith peacemaking can make a difference - I'll lift up the work of The Abraham Fund as one example (a group we brought to Pacific this fall) - in building relationships that help create peace:
As we prepare for this trip, I invite your prayers and good wishes for a safe and productive January. It will be a time to have assumptions challenged, I'm certain, and I look forward to meeting and learning from Jews, Muslims, and Christians across Israel and Palestine.