You Will Never Believe Where We Went Today!

After a second night of sleep, our tour group woke up bright and spry, ready for a new day. Jetlag seems to have dissipated and most were able to rock and roll through the day with much more energy, and it is a good thing because our first stop was a real dozy!

You will never believe where we went!  Our first stop was in the Barkan industrial area at a factory called Lipski, an Israeli plastics company that produces many products, but most notably, toilet seats!  How many tours do you know of that offer that!?!  Moreover, what in the world were we doing there!

Quite simple! Lipski is one of many companies in the industrial area of Samaria that hires Jews, Arabs and Palestinians and puts them to work side-by-side.  Not only is it a peaceful environment, but the workers are like family.  The general manager met us and explained the need for peace between Palestinians, Arabs, and Jews, and what Lipski is doing to advance it.  Though Jewish-owned, the company hires the most qualified employees for each position, regardless of ethnicity.  Arabs, Palestinians and Jews alike serve in upper levels of management, including department heads who supervise them all. They share rides with one another, eat lunch together, and even close down the company occasionally to go on a vacation together (paid for by the company…and we saw dozens of employees!)

The trucking/shipping division is headed by an Arab man who was invited to share his experience with us. Though he spoke no English, our guide translated his words of high respect and praise for the company, the general manager and all co-workers.  Likewise, a Palestinian man also spoke very highly of his privilege to work for such a company to support his family. To see the honor and respect these men, as well as workers throughout the factory, have for one another is truly inspiring.

Here is their message for Americans and others: “Tell the world that peace is possible!  We must simply do the right thing and leave politics out of it.  Tell them of the example you see here.” 

What an amazing experience! I’ll follow up with more of today’s sights and activities, but this one stands alone in the category of unusual! The common joke throughout the day was, “How many tours offer something as exciting as a visit to a toilet factory!?!”  I suspect not many, but that stop was worth far more than meets the eye! It dispels virtually everything we learn about conflict between the sides from the media. Yes, there is conflict between Jewish and Palestinian leaders, but Jewish people and Palestinian people both want the same thing: a chance to live in peace and provide for their families. That is the reality on the ground with the vast majority.

Pictures from Lipski below. More of the day’s excitement to follow, so stay tuned!

Above: Lipski’s GM shows us photos of a company trip in 2019, a toilet lid fresh off the press, our group in the Lipski factory with the Jewish GM, an Arab shipping and transportation director, and a Palestinian manager! Fascinating!

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