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The Abraham Trail in Palestine took our group of 8 through barren landscapes in Awarta, lush olive orchards between Awarta and Duma, scrubby desert-like terrain and fertile farms planted with a variety of fruits and vegetables in the terracing of the Aqraba hillsides. In Taybeh, we had a private tour of the only microbrewery in the Middle East! And we will never forget Nablus with its traditional soap factory and the delicious “kanafa”. But the best part was the people we met, conversed, laughed with and learned from.

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The Siraj Center helped organize a memorable tour of the Holy Land for seven Canadian citizens of varied backgrounds trying to make sense of their government’s policies toward Palestine/Israel. While we did expect to visit unique historical sights we were definitely not interested in a package from a glossy travel brochure. We hoped, rather, to see and experience the reality of the issues and hear informed points of view from all sides. Our hectic two week schedule certainly met and exceeded our most optimistic expectations.

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Departing Jericho we had our final walk which was perhaps the most stunning of them all. We walked through an area so barren that it felt we really had been transported back to Biblical times. The only life we saw was a baby owl sleeping quietly in a crack in the rocks.

We completed our four-hour hike with an astonishing view across a canyon to the Mar Saba Monastery which is built into the rock and is simply one of the most impressive sights we have seen to date. Upon arriving in Jerusalem we headed straight to the Mount of Olives and took in the impressive view of East Jerusalem, with the Dome of the Rock taking centre stage.

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From 15/6/2013 to 29/6/2013

The group signed-up for a ‘listening’ tour through which the participants wanted to learn about the issues and contemporary lives of Palestinians and Israelis by meeting persons who are members of the different religious communities, i.e., Christians, Muslims, Jews, Samaritans, Druze, and Baha'i.

The tour began in Jerusalem.  After that, the group visited Bethlehem, Hebron, Ramallah, Nablus, Nazareth, Majdal Shams, and finally Haifa.

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When you travel to this sensitive part of the world, the first thing you feel is some sort of unease as you go through the passport control at the airport in Tel Aviv, in Israel. It might be the consequence of all we read about it in our western papers and of all the news we get from this part of the world, usually worrying and somehow obscure, but the reality that awaits you just a few kilometers away, once you leave the airport and start your journey traveling to Nablus, in the West Bank, is much more exciting, positive and enjoyable than what you expect.

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A new place to walk, in the olive groves and wadis of Palestine. It was too late for wild flowers, but we caught the end of the olive harvest. It is a small and encircled place, with a wall and the Jordan river as its effective boundaries. But the people we met were kind and generous, both the guides who led us and the people in whose homes we stayed.

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From October 28 to November 1, 2013 a five member delegation of Americans used Siraj’s expertise and excellent guide, Mohammed Barakat, to expand our visit to Palestine, which we had started by participating in the Olive Harvest Campaign organized by JAI. 

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