Private Tour -
The experience begins in the Old City with a detailed briefing illustrated with maps, covering one hundred years of history from the late Ottoman period to the present day. This includes an introduction to Israeli occupation and settlement efforts in the Old City and the surrounding Holy Basin.
This experience will emphasize the centrality of the Old City of Jerusalem to the three monotheistic religions and visit some of the visible icons of the Israeli Occupation. This includes Jewish settlements in the Muristan (Christian Quarter) and Muslim Quarter, with discussion of their background and implications. Homes are purchased by the settlement organization, Ateret Cohanim, and populated by young, often radical national religious seminary students, creating uneasy neighborly relations with the mostly Palestinian residents surrounding them. The sources and outcomes of this agenda will be analyzed.
The group will walk through the Muslim Quarter which includes a visit to the viewpoint at the top of the Austrian Hospice. You will also visit the Western Wall Plaza, the very heart of the Old City and a major holy site for Jews and Muslims alike. An explanation of the sources of the adjacent Temple Mount's and Al Aksa's holiness in Judaism and Islam will be given. Discussion will focus on Muslim and Jewish archaeological and development ventures around Al Aksa Mosque, which are sources of extreme tensions and discontent.
After lunch, there will be another short briefing with maps, then we're off on a bus to learn about the facts on the ground in East Jerusalem settlements and Palestinian neighborhoods.
You'll drive up the 'seam line' road that separates east and west Jerusalem, passing the settlement neighborhood of French Hill, turning onto Route 1 then along a segment of route 443, passing several settlements and the ghetto Palestinian neighborhood of Bir Naballah, which is completely surrounded by a wall. Route 443 slices through the western side of the Palestinian Beit Hanina neighborhood, where house demolitions are a common occurrence.
Passing the main checkpoint into Jerusalem, the experience continues to pick up additional participants from Ramallah at the forbidding Kalandia Checkpoint, the only 'legal' way that Palestinians with permits can enter Jerusalem from the north. The adjacent 8-meter high concrete separation barrier divides the neighborhoods of Kufr Akab and Ar-Ram which are part of the Jerusalem municipality.
From there the bus travels through the Palestinian neighborhoods of Ar-Ram and Beit Hanina to the largest Jerusalem settlement, Pizgat Za'ev. There is a brief stop at the Palestinian village of Anata surrounded by the Wall, to view the 'Fabric of Life' (Arabs only) roads being built. Then you'll drive into the Judean desert to the main Jerusalem/Dead Sea highway and drive through Ma'aleh Adumim, one of the largest settlements (pop. 35,000) in the West Bank, visit the outlying outposts of the town, and learn about the displacement of the local Jahalin Bedouin. There's a lookout point in Ma'ale Adumim where you'll have a panoramic view back to Jerusalem, and the 'E1' planning zone that is planned to be filled with new settlement neighborhoods and tourist hotels.
From there, the experience returns towards Jerusalem on Route 1, which parallels the segregated Palestinian road that eventually will enable the Israeli government to deny access to the 'Israeli only' roads that connect the settlements to Jerusalem.
Throughout the experience, your local/guide will give descriptions and analysis of the impact of the Jewish settlements on the nearby Palestinian neighborhoods, and place the discourse within the context of the re-framing briefing provided during the first part of this experience.
There will be opportunities for questions and discussion during the experience. Be prepared for many of your preconceptions about the conflict to be challenged.