Although it might be called the worst of clichés, those who attempt an in-depth understanding of the challenges, opportunities, and realities faced by the state of Israel often say the same thing: it’s complicated. Participants in the JCPA’s recent leadership mission to Israel may well have reached the same conclusion after an intense and informative trip that took place last week.
A few of the highlights of the itinerary:
• JCPA Chair Susie Turnbull in conversation with former President of Israel Shimon Peres: this exclusive audience with one of the most distinguished political figures of the post-World War II era took place in the main auditorium of the Peres Center, with the setting sun on the Mediterranean Sea as a backdrop.
• Intense and honest exchanges between participants and Members of Knesset Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid), Tzipi Livni (Zionist Camp), Rachel Azaria (Kulanu), and Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List).
• A panel at the Van Leer Institute on religious pluralism in Israel with Rabbi Naftali Rothenberg (Orthodox), Rabbi Gilad Kariv (Reform/Progressive), Adv. Yizhar Hess (Conservative/Masorti), and Dr. Ruth Calderon (Secular).
• A discussion with Oded Revivi, Mayor of the town of Efrat in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc.
• A presentation from and dialogue with Amir Dajani, developer of Rawabi, a new, planned Palestinian city in the West Bank.
In the coming weeks, participants in the mission will share some of their impressions of the trip in JCPActs. Until then, perhaps Nobel prize winner Saul Bellow’s reflections in his personal account To Jerusalem and Back will serve as a fitting placeholder:
“Here in Jerusalem, when you shut your apartment door behind you, you fall into a gale of conversation—exposition, argument, harangue, analysis, theory, expostulation, threat, and prophecy . . . I listen carefully, closely, more closely than I’ve ever listened in my life, utterly attentive, but I often feel that I have been dropped into a shoreless sea.”