Jerusalem – While on an annual Israel/Palestine study tour for professors from Boston, Dr. James C. (Jim) Wallace of LACUNA met with leaders in both the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and the Palestinian National Authority to learn about the complexities and perspectives which challenge the region.
The study tours, sponsored by a leading Boston NGO, are an annual event to expose professors from Boston-area universities to the issues, questions, and conflicts in Israel & Palestine.
The tour of Israel included Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Jaffa, a kibbutz on the border with the Gaza Strip, a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, an Arab settlement in Israel, an Arab-Israeli school for kids with learning disabilities and a visit to Yad Vashem. The group met with a member of the Knesset, the senior negotiator of the Middle East Peace process, educators and academics, and religious leaders. They also met with leaders in the IDF, including a senior IDF security expert who explained the threats and challenges of the security barrier. Brigadier General Bentzi Gruber explained the ethical challenges faced by soldiers in war. BGen Gruber was one of the primary authors of the IDF Code of Ethics for soldiers in the battlespace.
The tour of Palestine included visits to the West Bank, to Ramallah, to Taybeh, to a UN-sponsored refugee camp, to a Palestinian high-tech business and to a Palestinian winery. The group met with a Cabinet Minister of the Palestinian National Authority, a senior leader of the Palestinian refugee camp, the leading Palestinian pollster and demographic researcher, Palestinian businessmen, and an Arab-Christian politician and business leader.
With his interest in religio-cultural issues within the military, Wallace met with several senior IDF officers consulting about “religious advisement in the battlespace.” Because of the IDF’s experience in kinetic operations and the security challenges that they deal with daily, the IDF is one of the foremost militaries in the world dealing with religious and cultural issues on the battlefield.
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