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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

Study tours

Israel and the Palestinian Territory: The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Up Close

May 22-31, 2018

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More than seventy years after the establishment of the state of Israel and the collapse of Palestinian society, resolution of the conflict over the territory from west of the Jordan River to the Mediterranean appears increasingly remote. Ross Brann, a wonderful intellectual guide and delightful travel companion, will lead our multi-faceted study of what some have called the "mother of all problems."

From our base in Jerusalem, we will study the terrain of the region; meet with Israeli and Palestinian scholars, government officials, journalists, activists, and private citizens; and visit think tanks and educational and cooperative ventures engaging Jews and Arabs. We'll explore the Old City of Jerusalem, with its Jewish, Christian, and Muslim holy sites; Yad Vashem, the national Holocaust memorial and museum; Al-Quds Arab University; the Diaspora Museum, the "White City," and the Peres Center for Peace in Tel Aviv; and Manger Square and Herodium National Park in and near Bethlehem. We will also visit Ramallah in the Palestinian Territory to meet with Palestinian researchers and representatives.

We will examine the history of the conflict as seen by Israelis and by Palestinians, the current problems standing in the way of a resolution, and the multiplicity of positions held by Israelis and Palestinians regarding their future.

Ross Brann

The M. R. Konvitz Professor of Judeo-Islamic Studies, Ross Brann studied at the University of California, Berkeley; the Hebrew University, Jerusalem; New York University; and the American University in Cairo. He has taught at Cornell University since 1986 and served... > more

Program notes

  • Double occupancy: $7,084 per person.
  • Single supplement: $980 per person.
  • See What's included?
  • See Travel links and resources.
  • Activity level: Slightly strenuous. May require extended walking over uneven ground as well as the ability to climb stairs and to stand for considerable periods of time.

Preliminary itinerary

May 22: Depart the U.S.

May 23: Jerusalem

Arrive in Tel Aviv and transfer immediately to Jerusalem to check in at the hotel. Have an early evening briefing and Ross Brann's Talk #1, followed by a light dinner at the hotel or nearby restaurant.


May 24: Jerusalem

After breakfast, visit the vast plaza covering the summit of the biblical Mt. Moriah, called the Temple Mount by Jews and Christians and Haram esh-Sharif by Muslims. In the first century BCE, Herod expanded the Temple Mount and rebuilt the temple into a thing of splendor that Jesus knew. The Romans reduced it to ashes in 79 AD. The Temple Mount today is a Muslim preserve administered by the Waqf, the Supreme Muslim Religious Council.

On Temple Mount is the large, silver-domed El Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest mosque in the Muslim world. Two hundred yards away is the brilliantly golden Dome of the Rock. Have a late morning briefing at the U.S. Consulate.

After lunch at a local restaurant, meet at the office of the Major of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat. Enjoy a welcome dinner at the American Colony Hotel.

(B, L, D)

May 25: Jerusalem

After breakfast, have Discussion #1. Then depart the hotel by foot for a morning tour of the Old City of Jerusalem, including the Jewish Quarter with its cobblestone alleyways and open archaeological sites. Stop at the Cardo, the main colonnaded street dating back to the sixth century AD.

See the Western Wall and explore the tunnels, recently excavated. We have requested special permission to walk through these tunnels, which expose ancient arches and chambers and parts of the Western Wall along most of its length. Walk the ramparts of the Ottoman Walls.

After lunch at a local restaurant, walk along the Via Dolorosa—the Way of the Cross—past the remains of tiny chapels which mark the fourteen stations of Jesus from his trial to his crucifixion and burial, in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. From Mount Scopus and Mount of Olives, enjoy a magnificent, panoramic view of Jerusalem. In the late after, Ross will give Talk #2.

Dine this evening at a local restaurant.

(B, L, D)

May 26: Jerusalem

After breakfast, meet for Ross's Talk #3. Then, with our guide, visit the Israel Museum. Its director, Mr. Snyder, has emphasized the commonalities and distinctiveness of cultures and placed Jewish history and practices in this clear and broader context. The archeological section is superb and includes a restored sarcophagus believed to be Herod's.

Part of the museum is the Shrine of the Book, home to the Dead Sea Scrolls and other rare ancient manuscripts. The striking juxtaposition of the museum's white dome and black basalt wall creates a monumental effect.

After lunch at a local restaurant, visit the International Peace Cooperation Center in East Jerusalem, meeting with Director Rami Nasrallah and Robert Brooks, PhD '65.

Dinner at a local restaurant.

(B, L, D)

May 27: Tel Aviv

Spend the day exploring Tel Aviv. Stop at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, an interdisciplinary research center. Part of Tel Aviv University, it seeks to provide academic and general audiences with an understanding of the Middle East, past and present.

In the late morning, visit Hand-in-Hand Jewish-Arab school in Tel Aviv, then have a briefing with Professor Asher Susser of the Moshe Dayan Center. Enjoy a lovely lunch in Jaffa.

After our meal, explore old Jaffa and its fascinating history, which includes Solomon, Jonah, and St. Peter. Jaffa was once an important stop on the trade route extending from Egypt to Mesopotamia. Enjoy its beautifully preserved Al Mahmoudite mosque.

Tour Tel Aviv's "White City," a World Heritage collection of 4,000 Bauhaus or International style buildings built in Tel Aviv from the 1930s on by German-Jewish architects. The White City is an exceptional adaptation of modern international architectural trends to the cultural, climatic, and local traditions of Tel Aviv.

End the day at the Peres Center for Peace, a non-profit, non-partisan, non-governmental organization founded in 1996 by Israeli president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shimon Peres.

Return to Jerusalem in the late afternoon for Discussion #2, followed by independent dinner at leisure.

(B, L)

May 28: East Jerusalem

After breakfast, hear Ross's Talk #4, then depart the hotel and drive to East Jerusalem and the campus of Al-Quds University. The only Arab University in Jerusalem, Al-Quds provides higher education and community services to Jerusalem and neighboring towns, villages, and refugee camps on the West Bank. We have requested a meeting with students there.

Lunch in East Jerusalem to which we have invited Hannah Ashwari, a Palestinian spokeswoman. Then return to Jerusalem to meet with Danny Seidemann '73, an attorney and head of "Terrestrial Jerusalem."

Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.

(B, L, D)

May 29: Ramallah and Bethlehem

After breakfast, leave hotel to cross into the Palestinian Territories to visit with Dr. Khalil Shikaki at the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah.

Lunch at a local restaurant in Ramallah with a representative from the Palestinian Authority.

Continue on to Bethlehem, which, even from a distance is easily identified by its minarets and church steeples. Manger Square is Bethlehem's central plaza and the entrance to the Church of the Nativity, built over the grotto thought to the birthplace of Jesus. This is the oldest standing church in Israel. When the Persians invaded in 614 AD, they destroyed every Christian church and monastery except the Nativity.

Return to Jerusalem for Discussion #4, followed by dinner at your leisure.

(B, L)

May 30: Jerusalem

After breakfast, hear Ross's Talk #5. Then spend the morning with a representative from Ir Amim ("City of Nations" or "City of Peoples"), which focuses on Jerusalem within the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ir Amim seeks to render Jerusalem a more viable and equitable city for the Israelis and Palestinians who share it. It envisions a city that ensures the dignity and welfare of all its residents and that safeguards their holy places, as well as their historical and cultural heritages. Ir Amim also aspires to a sustainable political future for Jerusalem, achievable only through a negotiated process between Israel and the Palestinians.

Enjoy a late lunch at your leisure, then meet with Caroline Glick from the Jerusalem Post.

In the late afternoon, have Discussion #5, followed by a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

(B, D)

May 31: Depart for U.S.

Transfer from the hotel to Tel Aviv Airport for your flight home.