Twenty-six African-American Christian leaders are participating in a May 23-29 educational trip to Israel sponsored by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship).

The visiting delegation is from the National Baptist Convention of America, a predominately black church. Yael Eckstein, senior vice president of The Fellowship, said the trip is part of an effort to combat the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel and to “build strategic friends and allies for the Jewish people both financially and politically.”

“Just seeing the country and experiencing [it] is something which can build a greater connection with Israel,” she said.

Rev. Samuel C. Tolbert Jr.—president of the National Baptist Convention of America—said he hoped to use the trip to help find “common ground” between Palestinians and Israelis.

“How do we hear what the Palestinians say, how do we hear what the Jews say, how can we partner with them both and help find the common ground to help them live in more peaceable society?” Tolbert said, the Jerusalem Post reported.