Returning home from Palestine/Israel has been like entering another world.  Certain phrases from the trip linger, like our young host in the Dheisheh Refugee Camp, who said “we have no expectations, only hope.”

When I joined this delegation to make my second trip to Palestine/Israel I wanted to hear/see/experience some positive signs to bring back and share, despite the worsening situation that exists there.

There are ‘cracks’ forming metaphorically in the immense ‘separation’ wall, the ‘apartheid’ wall that continues to expand, dividing communities, families, farmers from their land, etc. Like slivers of sunlight making its way into the darkness.  Like the roots of olive tree saplings replacing the trees destroyed by Israeli settlers or police, there is hope and renewed strength, nurturing ‘sumud’, the steadfastness evident throughout the West Bank/Palestinian territory.

We heard it from Daher and Daoud Nassar at their farm, the Tent of Nations, where they “refuse to be enemies”.

We saw it at the Canaan Fair Trade factory where farmers bring their olive harvest to be pressed into incredibly delicious olive oil sold and exported around the world.

We experienced it in Hebron when our guide, Issa Amro, was taken by the police and sent to another part of the city where we were reunited for more of the tour. 

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We participated in it as we helped pick olives at the olive grove of a family who hosted some of us for a night near the city of Jenin.

In many other places, we heard/saw/experienced the resistant and resilient spirit of the Palestinian people. They are creative, resourceful and powerful in their refusal to leave their homeland. 

Even back here at home, as I was being given a lift from a car repairman because my car suddenly wouldn’t start and had to be towed to his shop, in just a brief conversation, having mentioned that I just returned from a trip to Israel, I was able to share a bit of the truth of life on the ground.  He was astonished to hear that what he and everyone else is told through the news media is not even close to the truth, that it is less than half the story and is slanted heavily toward Israel. 

He thought I probably had seen a lot of violence by terrorists in Israel.  It felt good to correct at least a little bit of his sense of what’s going on.  It gave me hope and encouragement to share more and with everyone I meet.

This trip has given me the impetus and challenge to shine light in our own darkness. What a gift!