Centenary Tour to the Holy Land December 2017
The Society, in cooperation with the World Mission Council, organised a tour to Israel / Palestine to coincide with the Centenary marking the entry of General Allenby into Jerusalem on the 11th December 1917. This event sparked the Church of Scotland into establishing St Andrew’s Scots Memorial Church and Hospice.
The tour focussed on the sites of some of the strategic battles which led to the liberation of Jerusalem from the Ottoman occupation, and also sites of significance to the Christian faith in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and the Galilee. There were many opportunities to meet the people and organisations working today with the people of Palestine.
28 Friends were given a fascinating insight into the trials and tribulations of conducting a fast moving Campaign in this inhospitable theatre of operation. Following in the footsteps of the troops, from Beersheva in the South to the Golan in the North, eyes were opened wide to the rigours and dangers experienced by the ordinary soldier doing his duty.
Along the way, following the troops of one hundred years ago, they took in much of the contemporary scene including a visit to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for a briefing on the impact of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the work of the St John’s Eye Hospital based in East Jerusalem but operating in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the Church of Scotland’s Tabeetha School in Jaffa, the Sindyanna Centre near Nazareth which is run by Arab and Jewish women and serves the local communities. They also enjoyed two very interesting presentations into the contemporary situation – firstly the lives of Christians in the Galilee by the Rev and Mrs Barhoum and, secondly, on wider issues, insights from Amos Harel, Defence Correspondent for the Ha’aretz newspaper. The final day was to have been spent visiting groups in Bethlehem, including The Tent of Nations and Wi’am, but due to security concerns following Donald Trump’s announcement regarding the status of Jerusalem, unfortunately the visit had to be cancelled. Despite this disappointment the general opinion was that it had been an eye opening encounter with history which has relevance to today’s realities.