I don't know where the last few weeks have gone.  All of a sudden there are only 14 days left  and I cannot wait for April 27th to get here!  I wish I could say I held off on packing until now, but honestly I started my lists and gathering everything about a week and a half ago.  And last night I had a nightmare about traveling and missing flights (and some how Istanbul was very close to San Diego and Quebec?), so I know the anxiety about traveling abroad alone for the first time is about to set in.

Packing and a countdown!  Can you tell I'm excited?

Packing and a countdown!  Can you tell I'm excited?

The last few weeks I have been trying really hard to power through my books so I am as prepared as possible.  I am absolutely loving Blood Brothers by Elias Chacour- a combination of personal story of a young Palestinian boy growing up in a world constantly changing and trying to bring him down, mixed with the history of the conflict.  It is a truly amazing story and I would recommend it for anyone wanting to learn more. 

Another book I have been reading that is not on my list of suggested works is My Promised Land: The Tragedy and Triumph of Israel  by Ari Shavit, a pro-peace Israeli.  I am adamant about learning the whole story of any situation, and especially so with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.   I have spent the last year searching my brain as to why a people who had been persecuted for so long could turn around and do the same to their brothers and sisters in faith, let alone any group of people.  But Shavit in his history of the trouble-ridden land explains why the crisis unfolded the way it did.  This does not mean I empathize or agree with the tactics taken by Israel, but it helps understandhow everything happened, and opens more doors to finding a solution.  Shavit's recounting and explanation is much more coherent than I could ever hope to summarize, but I will leave you with this:

The Israel of the 1950s was a just social democracy.  But it was also a nation of practicality that combined modernity, nationalism, and development in an aggressive manner.  There was no time, and there was no peace of mind, and therefore there was no human sensitivity.  As the state became everything, the individual was marginalized.  As it marched towards the future, Israel erased the past.  There was no place for the previous landscape, no place for previous identities.  Everything was done en masse... Four forces of amnesia are at work.  Erased from memory are the land that was and the Diaspora that was, the injustice done to them and the genocide done to us.  As they struggle to survive and cast a new identity, the Israelis of the 1950s bury both the fruit orchards of Palestine and the yeshivas of the shtetl, the absence of seven hundred thousand Palestinian refugees, and nihility of six million murdered Jews.

Again I emphasize this is not an excuse nor does it make me believe the atrocities that were committed were justified.  But I think understanding is a good place to start in peacemaking. 

14 more days...