Israel-Palestine: a tortured land. No other place on Earth has so much history and so many events and places important to so many people as this small slice of land. This place is home to both peace and strife, love and hatred, kindness and violence. There is no single truth here.
As visitors to Israel-Palestine, our group sought answers. What are the issues? What are the solutions? Who can move things forward? Why do things seem to be moving backwards? After 10 days on the ground we only have more questions.
One of the presenters to our group told us that the vast majority of problems in this country have no solutions, and people need to find ways to live with them. He suggested that as Americans, we can't accept this answer because, I suppose, we are solution-oriented. Perhaps he is correct. I find this difficult to accept, but I also find that the problems here have defied solutions for decades. And I also know that there are no simple answers; nothing here is black and white, everything here is a shade of grey.
The people we've met in Israel and the West Bank have to a person been friendly, gracious and appreciative of our interest in their lives and issues. At the same time that we've heard tales of anger, violence and fear, we've also heard stories of friendship, collaboration and kindness. Perhaps it is most telling that for every issue that divides Arabs and Jews, we find Arabs and Jews working together to find solutions.
I finish this journey with over 70 pages of hastily scribbled notes from at least 14 presentations and visits. During the next week of traveling through Israel on our own, I plan to comb through these notes to solidify thoughts and ideas, and post more to this blog. But I also plan to enjoy being here, visiting friends and relatives, taking in the visual beauty of the land, and enjoying the wonders of this troubled place.