I just returned from IPF Atid’s inaugural delegation to Israel and the West Bank. In the span of just one week, we visited Tel Aviv, the Gaza border region, Hebron, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Rawabi, Ramallah, and other points in between. We met Israelis and Palestinians, politicians and peace activists, artists and educators, high-tech entrepreneurs and historians, settlers and refugees, and people who didn’t fit so neatly into any of those categories.

We went into this trip with a keen eye toward advancing Israel Policy Forum’s mission: preserving a Jewish, democratic, and secure Israel. But we also kept our hearts and minds open, and made sure not to only seek experiences that would validate our preexisting opinions. In my previous posts, I reflected on the importance of this, as expressed through holding divergent ideas and viewing things from different perspectives.

What we heard and saw on this trip ran the gamut from inspiring to deeply disheartening, but our experiences were deeply enriched because of that.

It was frustrating to see disinformation casually disseminated and often unquestionably accepted among Palestinians. Even seemingly innocuous information, like Yasser Arafat’s birthplace, was altered at a museum dedicated to the late P.L.O. leader’s life. The broader implications of this were unsettling.

It was distressing to learn how many Israelis are apathetic to the threats posed by annexation, far-flung settlements, and other efforts to undercut the viability of a two-state solution. The very same people espouse a sincere desire to live in a Jewish and democratic state, but they seem blind to the imminent danger that aspiration faces.

It was grating to hear a Palestinian Authority official justify hundreds of millions of dollars spent on imprisoned and slain terrorists and their families every year as part of the PA’s Martyrs’ Fund. What he saw as a means to preserve order and the PA popularity sounded to me an awful lot like blood money and incentivizing violence.

It was troubling that a settler in Hebron had tried to intimidate our Israeli tour guide, a soldier-turned-peace activist. This same settler had even physically assaulted someone in a similar position just a few months ago. This was all because the settler disagreed with what our guide presented about his time patrolling Hebron during his IDF service years ago.

It was encouraging to learn about the 40,000 Israeli Christian, Jewish, and Muslim women organizing together via Women Wage Peace to exercise a meaningful role in conflict resolution, infusing humanity into a challenging situation.

It was reassuring to meet a Palestinian woman who came back from America, where she spent most of her formative years, to live in her home village in the West Bank and open the first microbrewery in the Middle East, Taybeh Brewery.

It was uplifting to meet an Israeli peace activist who raises awareness about the threats posed by illegal settlements, a position he came to after founding such an outpost and then realizing the harm he was causing to his Palestinian neighbors.

It was refreshing to see a film directed by a Palestinian screened in the refugee camp he came from after being shown at the Cannes Film Festival. It seems that under duress, people still find sources of creative inspiration.

Certainly in the troubling observations, but even in some of the positive ones, there was a common theme: a focus on the past at the expense of the future. I’m picturing a thirty foot-long key-shaped monument at the entrance to Aida refugee camp, representing the dream of return to Israel that has never been realized and likely never will. I’m thinking about the talking points from some settlers regarding the strategic importance of settlements based on Six Day War doctrine that even retired Israeli security officials concede have little relevance in modern warfare.

If there is so much focus on the past, what room is left for the future?

We need to take stock of the past, but the ability to adapt is also of critical importance. I believe our role in IPF Atid is to create space to discuss solutions to the conflict. As a leader in this community, I naturally hope we focus on the future opportunities ahead that will keep the space open for a sustainable two-state solution.

As one Women Wage Peace leader said, “I see my face in the future.” Let’s find partners who see the world through that lens; and for those who aren’t ready yet, let’s find a way to learn and grow together too.