Blog Post 3

December 11th, 2017

It’s hard to believe that it’s already the last night of the trip. We have a full day ahead tomorrow, but the participants are headed to the airport right after Shabbat dinner. Today was another excellent PI day.

Let’s recap:

Due to our shifting plans, we were able to reschedule the helicopters for today and wow, what a special experience. First of all, Israel truly is a beautiful country; from the air, almost overwhelmingly so. Additionally, the perspective that the birds-eye view grants is invaluable for those hoping to understand the security realities of the place.

From Sde Dov airport in Tel Aviv, we took off in three choppers for Mt. Bental in the Golan Heights. After flying over much of central Israel, and over the Galilee and the Kinneret—moving experiences for the religious Christians in our group—we arrived in the Golan. We spent an hour overlooking Syria and Lebanon, receiving an in-depth briefing on the ever-changing security situation.

We boarded the helicopters again for our longest leg down to Kibbutz Nahal Oz, on the border with Gaza. There, we heard from a young mother who grew up on the kibbutz and is now raising her children there, with the specter of Gaza’s rockets looming over their lives. She told us her story—rockets, tunnels, walls, safe rooms, PTSD, death—and helped us understand all of the abnormalities of life in that place.

Without reservation,the approach by helicopter over the Old City of Jerusalem was one of the most beautiful sights of my life, a sentiment that was shared by many in the group.

Waiting for us, in our group room, was Elias Zananiri of the PLO. Much to the group’s surprise, not only was he not upset about Trump’s announcement, he was in fairly good spirits.

For our final speaker of the day, we met with Emmanuel Nachshon at the MFA. He and Zananiri were a fascinating back-to-back experience, and it was certainly valuable for the participants to hear both sides endorse the two-state solution.

Our day ended with dinner, a fitting way to celebrate an extraordinary and eye opening day.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Project Interchange.