Tours Offer Balanced View of Middle East Relations
Instead of a typical Holy Land tour, American high school teacher Scott Silk and his class opted for a more ambitious, multifaceted tour with Middle East Justice and Development Initiative, a group that provides viewpoints on both sides of the situation.
"Our trip included multiple dialogue sessions with Israeli and Arab-Israeli teens, service projects, a two-night home stay and plenty of spontaneous moments," Silk recalled after returning home. "It was an experience that will forever influence the lives of all involved."
MEJDI is a joint Jewish-Arab tour operator that creates custom group tours to Israel, Palestine, Turkey, Jordan, and Egypt. Guided by a mission to provide responsible tour experiences and invest in the communities where they work, MEJDI provides clients with access to people and places that traditional tour companies cannot reach.
As a result of this unique business model, MEJDI clients hear different perspectives, participate in new cultural experiences, and go behind closed doors to meet local religious, political, and tribal leaders.
Visitor Orly Halpern, writing on the group's Facebook page, called MEJDI Tours "A unique tour company that helps visitors to the Holy Land see the conflict from all sides and from the inside. Definitely recommend booking a trip with them!"
The service has deep ties to George Mason University, where two of the three co-founders of MEJDI are leaders of the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution (CRDC). All three leaders -- Aziz Abuh Sarah, Marc Gopin, and Scott Cooper -- are experts in conflict resolution and ethical business.
Responsible tourism is the benchmark of MEJDI’s operations, which are built on three guiding principles: honoring the cultural identities of all members of local communities, partnering with local organizations, and financially empowering communities.
The Fetzer Institute is working with MEJDI to expand outreach capabilities and to develop training materials for tour guides.
This is a project of the Fetzer Advisory Council on Business Professions.