- Published: Monday, 10 December 2012
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IPCRI organised regular tours for Israelis to Palestinian cities in order to provide meaningful opportunities to step "beyond the wall" and get an understanding of their neighboring community.
About the tours
A few years ago, a couple of Palestinians and Israelis met during a seminar organized by IPCRI. They decided that they wanted to go see each other and give other Palestinians and Israelis the chance to meet each other. Years later, their initiative became an ongoing tour program in IPCRI.
Restrictions of movement, aggravated since the building of the separation barrier, and an increasingly more hostile climate towards cooperation make it extremely difficult for Palestinians and Israelis to come together and get to know each other. This disconnect promotes continued misunderstanding and vilification of "the other." The tours aimed to challenge this reality by taking groups from both sides for guided day tours into the opposite territory, led by a professional peace-building tour guide. These tours offered opportunities for participants to meet with local people, be exposed to their daily routines, and learn about their culture, cities, and sites of interest.
We coordinated with the IDF and PA to allow legal entry for Israeli participants into Palestine and vice versa. Tours included political discussion, authentic cultural experiences and food, visits to historic sites, and interesting community projects. The tour series made an immediate impact by breaking down political, geographical, and psychological barriers to peace and understanding, countering trends of dehumanization of the other, and building positive public opinion towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
Where we stand now
In 2012, IPCRI started a series of 6 tours to Bethlehem, Jericho and Taybeh.
In 2013 we successfully completed tours to Ramallah and Jericho.
In 2014 we successfully ran tours to Ramallah, Jericho and Betlehem. However, after the events of the summer 2014, we had to pause the project until further notice.
Experiencing Palestine as an Israeli
"Most of the people are Israeli, listening to a Palestinian tour guide. I don't think all of them completely changed their views after that day, but at least they were there. At least they have a better understanding of what it's like to be a Palestinian. Don't get me wrong - I'm not delusional and I'm fully aware that there are people in Bethlehem that would want to kill me for being Israeli. But they're an extreme minority - we have those as well. The day they'll stop determining our policy and diplomacy, we might actually be able to live here freely."
Read the full story of this tour participant here
Breaking Down Walls in the News