Bethel College senior Renee Reimer wants to plant seeds of peace she hopes will take root in others.If you look at the itinerary of the Jerusalem Seminar trip this year, at first glance it appears to be even-handed - visits to Yad Vashem and the Kotel, for example - until you see the local people they are scheduled to meet.
On Feb. 1, she will stage the one-woman play My Name is Rachel Corrie at 7:30 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium in the Fine Arts Center.
Reimer has been preparing the play during this Bethel interterm, working with theater instructor Megan Upton-Tyner as director, along with senior Creigh Bartel, stage manager, and junior Jocelyn Wilkinson, sound and lighting design.
However, it really started two years ago, after another interterm experience in 2011. As a sophomore, Reimer was part of Professor of Bible and Religion Patty Shelly’s Jerusalem Seminar, offered every other January.
The Jerusalem Seminar was a pivotal experience for Reimer.
“Being [in Israel/Palestine] for three weeks really opened my eyes to a different view on the world,” she says. “I saw the conflict up close and was able to decide for myself how I felt about it, rather than having the media shape my opinion.”
All the Bethel students returned from that trip determined to take some kind of action in support of Palestinians and nonviolent peace activism in the region. They organized several public events on campus.
The Israelis they meet are from the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and Zochrot, a Tel Aviv group to remember the "Nakba."
The Arabs are residents of Hebron - the most extreme Arabs in the West Bank - and Sabeel, a Christian group that promotes "Palestinian Liberation theology."
The entire trip is skewed to only meet local people who regard Israel as a criminal state. That way, you see, they can "decide for themselves."
It is no wonder that after this "balanced" trip, everyone who attends identifies with only one side of the conflict. And they get college credit for it!
Do you think that if a Jewish person living in Judea and Samaria would offer a tour that the professor who leads these tours would accept?
Notice also that this course/trip is not for the political sciences department, but as part of the Bible and Religion department. In other words, the students aren't being taught that Israel is in the evil politically - but that it is evil according to Christian theology.