The Very Revd Jonathan Greener, Dean of Wakefield led our 7th briefing tour of Israel. The Briefing tours take senior Church leaders to Israel and the West Bank to get a better and informed understanding of the current situation. They travel the length and breadth of the region including the Golan Heights, the Gaza Kerem Shalom crossing, Sderot, Ramallah, the new Palestinian City of Rawabi as well as Tel Aviv and Massada. The spiritual side is well taken care of also by visits to the holy sites in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, The Sea of Galilee, the Mount of Beatitudes and Capernaum.
They hear a cross section of voices and narratives from the community in Shiloh to the PLO in Ramallah and everything in between. We organise these visits jointly with the Clergy Travelling Fund. Here are some of the comments we received after this year’s visit:
The leader of the tour, the Very Revd Jonathan Greener wrote ‘The access you provide is second to none: the Gaza border crossing, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), the British Ambassador, the Palestinian Authority – the list goes on. We were time and time again confronted with the political challenges facing the country, and the opportunity to ask for ourselves about whatever controversial issue the latest conversation had thrown up. It was particularly helpful to be in Israel following the recent resolution from the UN Security Council and during the Paris conversations. I have come home genuinely troubled by the prevailing political view in the West about the settlements, which seems to me to fail to take account of the reality on the ground, and likely to hinder rather than foster the improved relations which are so necessary between Israel and Palestine. Professor Uzi Rabi (Professor of Middle East Studies, Tel Aviv University), also made a deep impression, setting Israel in the context of the current troubles throughout the Middle East, and he raised for me all kinds of questions about our own political situation at home – and in particular issues of immigration and community cohesion.’
Andy Byfield, the Vicar of St Peter and St Paul, Moulton wrote: ‘ I went to Israel fairly clueless about the political situation but through the wide range of speakers and visits, my pre-suppositions were deeply challenged. The Western Media narrative of heartless Israelis persecuting and oppressing innocent Palestinians was shown, again and again, to be a very unfair portrayal and I leave with a newfound respect and love for the Jewish people that I fear should have been there in my ministry for a long time before now.’
Chuks Aniereobi from the Shepherds Ministries wrote: ‘We are in a world where it is becoming trendy to hate the Jewish nation. As such we cannot relent in our effort to tell the real story of Israel. No more should an old lady – a Holocaust survivor think it necessary to plead for acceptance and friendship.
I have had the opportunity to share my experience with a wide group of people within my ministry and church. I will be making a full presentation in the church very shortly. I have some good photos too.
I already have the full blessing of my local church Elders to organise a team of members to raise more awareness and prayers for Israel.
I will be working towards fully incorporating Israel study into my ministry’s Children’s Bible Academy (CBA) curriculum. I am aware that the battle for the nationhood of Israel will not go away any time soon.’