The mortal mind alone cannot devise an answer to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
because the true answer lies on a level of consciousness that’s beyond our mortal thinking.
Quite simply, when it comes to Israel and the Palestinians, we need a miracle.
~ Marianne Williamson

My time living in Beirut, Lebanon was bookended by two wars: the Six Day War (1967) and the Yom Kippur War (1973). At that time, I had one passport for the world and another just for Israel. The reason for two passports was that if I had an Israeli stamp in my regular passport, I would not be allowed back into Lebanon (or Syria or Egypt or Jordan and so on). We could fly from Lebanon to Cyprus using our regular passports. Then we could fly from Cyprus to Israel using our Israel-only passports.

About a year after I left Lebanon I was offered an opportunity to go to Israel for some months as a group leader for a group of US high school and college students. I jumped at the chance! Following are a few memories that remain vivid to this day.

  • When we landed in Tel Aviv, we descended the stairs from the plane and were walking across the tarmac toward the terminal and customs. One of the young woman stopped, got down on her knees, and kissed the ground (even though it was tarmac). Through her sobs she said, “I’m home! I’m finally home!” She had never been to Israel before. Nor had her parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, or other relatives. Yet, she clearly and emotionally claimed this place as her home.
  • A good part of our time was spent living and working on a kibbutz just a few miles west of Jerusalem. A tractor towing a trailer would pick us up each morning at about 4:00 am and take us to the peach orchard. We would pick peaches until about 7:00 when we’d hop into the trailer again to be driven to the dining room for breakfast (which included peaches, of course). After breakfast we were taken to a large building where we spent the rest of our time until noon sorting and packing the peaches we had picked earlier. The man who supervised us was kind and helpful. He smiled all of the time. And he also always carried an AK47. One day I asked him why he carried a gun. His smile disappeared for a moment and he said, “Because we just never know.…”
  • Afternoons were free. One day after lunch, I sat on the lawn with an older couple. I asked them about their lives, their politics, and their war experiences. I’ve never forgotten what they said about how everyone in Israel had lost someone. I heard the same thing more than once on CNN last week regarding this new war with Hamas. Almost 50 years later….
  • We also spent some weeks in northern Israel on a moshav (collective farm) in the Golan. We each lived with different families. My host “mother” was from Germany. She and her brother – who lived in London and flew for El Al Airlines – were the only remaining members of their large family. They found each other five years after the war was over. He came to visit while I was there and they shared stories. What a treasure for me!
  • In addition, not long after I left she would be hosting another group of students. This time from Germany. It was the first time this would happen in Israel. I was very impressed with her ability to forgive.
  • Also, I told her about my time living in Lebanon and about one special experience I had. It was a weekend trip with friends who were Palestinian to the village where they were born near the southern Lebanese border. In fact, it was so close to the border that we could see Israeli villages in the distance. I had to get special government permission to go to that part of Lebanon and I was told that if I tried to take photos they would confiscate my camera. I left it in Beirut!
  • After telling her about this experience, she suggested that we take a drive to the border. Once there, I was able to see the village I had visited in Lebanon. I so strongly remember the sense of, “You can’t get there from here.” Everything looked different from this new vantage point. Except for one thing: military presence. In both cases, tanks, trenches, and soldiers went on for as far as I could see. 

Everywhere we went from the mountainous and forested north to the desert and Red Sea in the south, whether in the countryside or in cities, I felt tension. It was in the air. The energy was the most intense I’ve ever experienced in more than 50 years of traveling the world. That was then. And it appears to be timeless until today.

What I notice now is also tension and intensity given, holistically, the numerous and wide-ranging impacts of what is happening and what is about to happen in the near future. We are witnessing the most local and intimate of people’s individual experiences along with the potential for the most global and political ramifications. And we are being asked, in fact required, to hold both the local and the global – and all levels in between – simultaneously.

May we not only believe in miracles. May we also manifest them!


Photo by Barbara