Finding Common Ground

A first-hand exploration of the conflict between Israel and Palestine


Much of our day has been spent in the bus with me in the co-pilot’s seat next to our driver, Haim. Our guide, Claude (pictured, right, in front of the Sea of Galilee) has been an enormous asset because he has helped us put everything we see in Israel in both a Biblical and modern political context. All the while, up in front, Haim gives me a wink and tells me the “real” military lowdown on what happened…how Israel defeated Syria and annexed the Golan Heights in 67…etc. Our first stop was at the top of the Golan Heights overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Witnessing the area where Jesus met Peter (Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee) and where he walked on water.

We then drove around the Sea and headed to a village on the way to Haifa where a small group of Palestinian Catholics live and are buidling a new church. A young couple hosted us for lunch and then we went to look at the church (pictured, left) which is still very much under construction (and is very large considering there are only 120 Catholics here). Next we had mass in a makeshift church in family’s home that they’ve been using.

We then headed to our hotel in Haifa where we met with Yossi Mendellivich, Ron Kehrmann and Yossi Zur–three parents of children who were killed by terrorist bombers in March of 2003. They spoke very movingly about why they see the need for a fence but were remarkably without hatred or malice. Though I am exhausted, it is very powerful to encounter people who have every right to be vengeful and bitter but instead try to turn their grief into educating and making people safer. I’m not really doing justice here to these three people who have suffered such tragic losses but you can check out their children’s stories at their sites:

Yuval Mendellevich (1989-2003)

Tal Kehrmann (1985-2003)

Asaf Zur (Blondi)(1986-2003)

I will write more about these special people and their cause when I return to NYC.