Project Description

IKTASHEF

Itkashef is the Arabic word for discover and this trip, formally known as the Palestine Summer Encounter, is the continuation of our longest-running and most successful encounter experience. Program participants of Itkashef are invited to discover Palestine through the three-pillared foundation of Faith, Culture, and Justice.

Based in Bethlehem, participants will have the opportunity to engage in one of two back-to-back programs will take place over the summer. They will stay with local families, engage in Arabic language courses, educational lectures, and excursions across the region, and have plenty of free time to learn, explore, and just have fun with your fellow travelers and newfound friends in Bethlehem.

  • International Focus – Our group make up represents a diverse international community. During your time, you’ll be engaging with multiple world views to further unpack your experience.
  • Authentic Experiences – Holy Land Trust takes an immersive approach to our programming. Rather than staying in facilities or rented units, we partner our Iktashef participants with local families so they can gain a deeper understanding of the Palestinian life.
  • Focus On People – Developing relationships is our main focus, because with deep authentic relationships, we are able to talk about the difficult questions that shape this land.
  • Participant Dedication – With over 20 years of experience, we understand that this space can be difficult to navigate. Our staff and community network works hard to make sure you’re comfortable, yet challenged – but most of all feel supported.
  • Career Advancement – Iktashef is the perfect program to fully immersing yourself into Middle East. Your connections that make your with local and international institutions gives a network to work with to asses your next career move.

A brief look at the itinerary and the costs

Here is a look at a sample schedule of the Iktashef program. Because the situation on the ground is always so fluid, with emerging interests shifting from month to month, we customize each program to meet the realities on the ground.

Iktashef Sample Schedule
Day 1 Day 2
Arrival Day & Welcome Activity Orientation Day & Tour of Bethlehem
Day 3 Day 4
Free Day

Lecture (Palestinian – Israeli Conflict)

Geo Political tour of Bethlehem ( Wall & Refugee Camp)

Day 5 Day 6
Guided tour of the Holocaust
Museum & Tour of the expelled village of Lifta
Lecture about Judaism by local Rabbi & Geo political tour of Jerusalem
Day 7 Day 8
Lecture about Islam
at the Omar Mosque
Lecture about Christian Zionism & Palestinian film screening
Day 9 Day 10
Free Day Worship with Local Palestinian Christian (Optional) & Lecture about the Christians of Palestine
Day 11 Day 12
Nonviolence Workshop &
Lecture on the history of the Intifadas
Lessons on Palestinian Liberation Theology
Day 13 Day 14
Community Project NGO meetings in Ramallah & Meet with PLO
Day 15 Day 16
Community Project Free Day
Day 17 Day 18
Hebron Old City Tour & International Observers Community Project
Day 19 Day 20
Community Project Community Project
Day 21 Day 22
Visit Bedouin Community in Negev Desert & Gaza Borders Tel Aviv NGO’s & Meetings with the Arab Israeli Minority
 Day 23  Day 24
Galilee Religious Sites & Visit Occupied Golan Heights Free Day
 Day 25  Day 26
Jordan Valley & Jericho Day Tour Community Project
Day 27 Day 28
Community Project Non Linear Leadership Workshop
Day 29 Day 30
Evaluation and debriefing day Departure

$1,899  per person

Program cost includes:

  • Accommodation for 30 nights (21 June to 21 July).
  • 3 meals (Breakfast  –  Lunch – Dinner) Daily.
  • Field study trips for more than 10 different communities and cities
  • Transportation during the program
  • Lectures – workshops and training
  • Cultural Activities
  • Community service
  • Registration fees

Check on “Early Bird” rates and special assistance rates. Email Encounter@Holylandtrust.org

Up To Date Curriculum

As the new historical evidence and research emerges, as the political dynamics on the ground and internationally shift, Holy Land Trust continues to update our curriculum to reflect these shifting relaties. We always push ourselves as an organization to shape the contours of the program make it both relevant, but progressive.

Starting from Biblical times, Iktashef outlines the different historical narratives from religious and secular contexts, exams the cross-sections and discrepancies. From there, we examine how these competing storylines manifest themselves into political realities on the ground for different groups of people and geographical areas.

The Holy Land is a land of diversity. While people oftentimes break this down into binary terms – Israeli/Palestinian – that couldn’t be further from the truth. On this land, we have Palestinian Arabs, which can have a multitude of religious identities – Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and all the rest. There is an Armenian diaspora community with their own unique culture and language they have preserved overtime. There are Bedouin communities, Druze communities which have a very complex relationship within the settler colonial system. Within this, we go further into the analysis of complexity of the Jewish communities that live here, who came to settle on the land from far off places like Iran, Ethiopia, different parts of Europe and the former Soviet Union and how that interplay between the groups lead to a very interesting dynamics during the formation of Israeli politics. Understanding the ways these groups of people have preserved their culture and heritage over time is crucial to how nonviolent resistance works and doesn’t work within systems of oppression.

With our strong network to the NGO community, we organize meetings with the most significant humanitarian and political organizations – international, Israeli, and Palestinian – to give you a broader understanding of the system of settler colonialism, the impact on the native communities. Then in return, we look at different implications of international, indigenous resistance movements, and tactics and strategies.

One of the unique features of our Iktashef program is our integrative “homestay” approach to long-term living here. Over the course of your time here in the Holy Land, we house you with local families so you have a space where authentic, and long-lasting relationships can be fostered into a commitment to pursuing justice. Our experience has been, that is through these homestays and the friendly and intimate environment that it provides, it creates a situation where stories that otherwise might not be shared are opened up. It gives you a more in-depth insight on how the average Palestinian experiences and navigates life in this matrix of complexities and contradictions.

What to expect after your Iktashelf program?

After your in-depth, immersive tour through the Holy Land, you’ll find yourself with new experiences, relationships, and networks you didn’t have before. You’ll be equipped to go back into your communities and share in meaningful ways. You’ll be able to carry and honor the personal stories of the local communities. With a complete analysis compiled through a litany of meetings with the regions leading NGO voices, you’ll have a matrix of context for your individual journey.

  • Explore 10 different cities and villages! Spanning the entirety of the Holy Land.

  • Participate in 10 different cultural events. We specialize in organizing participatory cultural events. We don’t just give you the finest Middle Eastern cuisine, we show you how to cook it. We don’t tell you history of the Palestinian Thob, you learn how to make it.

  • Engage in 25 different lectures that range from the themes of the Nakba to constructs of Jewish identity.

  • You’ll enjoy 40 hours of community organizing and projects. Nothing integrates you more into the fabric of society than working together, hand-in-hand on community-based projects. Collaborate, problem-solve, and bond with locals as you work together to make a stronger society.

Additional Tours

Olive Harvest

Join us in the Palestinian communities during this sacred time. Stand in solidarity with the local villages as they harvest their crops. 

Join Us

Iktashef

This summer-long journey is specifically geared for those looking for a deeper investment into the dynamics shaping the Holy Land. 

Join Us

House Rebuilding

We are called to be a light. Rebuilding a home for a Palestinian family is a tangible way you can give hope for all future generations. 

Join Us

Christian Pilgrimage

For many, a chance to visit the Holy Land on a pilgrimage and walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ represents a turning point in their spiritual journey.

Join Us

Fact-Finding Tour

Our 14-day Fact-Finding Tour gives you a schedule with meeting with religious leaders, politicians, and community activists tools for peacemaking.

Join Us

Meet the staff

 
Elias Deis
Executive Director
Holy Land Trust’s E.D., Elias Deis has worked for over a decade at Holy Land Trust. He was formally the Travel & Encounter Program Director and serves on the Beit Sahour City Council.
Lara Mitri
BLF Director
Lara Mitri is the Bethlehem Live Festival Director, ensuring that the festival creates an inclusive space that promotes a message of social justice on a global scale.
Said Zarzar
Creative Manager
Said Zarzar is the Creative Manager of Holy Land Trust, organizing the event planning for Bet Lahem Live, as well as the lead coordinator for the Travel & Encounter Department.
Sami Awad
Sami Awad
Founder | Programs Developer
Sami Awad, the founder and former executive director of Holy Land Trust, has spent a lifetime working the infield of community development and leadership training.

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