Youthspirit Peace Pilgrimages are a chance to visit some of the holiest places on earth, and combine pilgrimage with hearing voices from the land. We combine the beauty of the three great religions Holiest sights, with conversation and learning concerning the experiences of living in one of most contested spaces on the earth.
This experience of the Holy Land is an exploration, not only into the sights, sounds and sacredness of the Abrahamic Faiths’ (Christianity, Islam and Judaism), but also into the conversations and critique that come from people living in the midst of occupation, violence and fear.
Meetings will take place , allowing you to converse with different voices and perspectives within Palestine and Israel. We will meet peace activists, religious settlers, educationalists, families living under occupation and others, in order to gain experiential understanding of lived realities in the region.
You hear before you go that you will see and witness things that might disturb you. But you still go, because you know there are two sides (at least) to every story …
And you live in Ireland, so you are well aware of conflict and violence, and there are not two sides to every story - there are at least six sides.
So you go, suspecting that because there are two sides (at least) to every story, the oppressed must be tormenting their oppressors - you maybe even suspect that somehow, in a strange way, the oppression is almost justifiable. You look for the ways you can make sense of mindless violence and political oppression. On all sides.
And then you go and meet a Palestinian farmer whose land is the last surviving hillside in his region not to be occupied as Israeli settlements encroach. The farmer speaks to you, and explains that the Israeli army came (again) just a few nights before, with diggers, and dug up 1500 fruit trees that were ready for harvest. Just dug them up. Destroyed the harvest. Destroyed a livelihood. But then, the farmer turns around and tells you that the motto of their family farm – written on the gate, open to the world is:
“We refuse to be enemies.” And he goes on to tell you that a Jewish Peace group came to the farm the week after, and helped re-plant trees. And you realise, you had better try to leave your preconceptions at that gate, and listen
Then you travel to a school in Haifa. In Israel. And you meet a Jewish headmaster who runs a progressive Jewish educational centre. And in your mind, deep down, you want to blame him for the actions of the army. But he introduces you to his students. And those students, talk about the world they want to live in. And the first thing one of the students tells you, is that she wants to live in a world where she can get the bus at her local bus stop without rockets being fired toward the bus stop.
you know that listening might be all you can do.
And so you open your heart and mind,
and the Middle East rolls in.
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Quotes From Past Participants
‘So humbling to meet loving, creative people with an inspiring capacity for forgiveness, courageous outreach and generous hospitality in the midst of injustice.’
Nearly two months have passed already and unlike other holidays quickly forgotten I still think of our trip and feel like it happened yesterday. Discussions with friends often bring the subject of Israel to the table and I find myself paying more attention to the news in the middle East than before. Guess it's going to be like that for a while'
‘Thank you so much for facilitating such a well organised and informative trip! Thanks also to everyone, you were a wonderful group to travel with and I really enjoyed sharing the experience with you all.'
'What an amazing experience: thank you and all my new friends!'
'On looking at other tour brochures they are such an ‘obvious’ tour whereas our experience was far from that. Seeing the very old world intermingled with the very present day world and meeting all the guys we met and the places where we met them: hearing them talk passionately about the future showed vividly it’s very much a living/moving/progressive world amongst those old stones. A living ‘history’ lesson for our times I felt! The opportunity to meet everyone we met and chat openly was without doubt a highlight for me - a one off and one not available (if at all) without your contacts and vision. When speaking to friends they were bowled over by the itinerary and the scope of people met.'
‘What a privilege for me to be part of such a wonderful group- my Pilgrim Family - & to partake in an unforgettable & once in a lifetime experience. A very special 'thank you' for your thoughtful comprehensive itinerary & gentle, encouraging & authentic Leadership. I learned so much in & from the company of the group & hold each & everyone of you in a special place in my heart.'
‘Loved the Hummus and Falafel, the learning, the fun, the challenge and the fellowship.’
'Thank you most sincerely for the excellent leadership ... It was such a privilege to be part of such a marvellous group and to be so luck to travel in your company. It was a trip I will never forget.'