By Sahar Vardi
Published: July 30, 2014

Note: Sahar Vardi is the Coordinator of the Israel Program in AFSC's office in East Jerusalem. She is a refuser and has been working actively to oppose the occupation of Palestinian territory and the militarization of Israeli society for years. Her post below are her reflections about the context of Israeli culture and its focus on militarism as an obstacle to peace. She asks that the international community put pressure on the Israeli government to end the occupation and the human rights abuses of Palestinians. - Lucy

While the bombs fall on Gaza and the majority of...

By Mike Merryman-Lotze
Published: July 30, 2014

Note: Udi Segal, a 19 year old Israeli, refused his mandatory military service last Monday (July 28) and was sentenced to 20 days in prison. Especially now, as Israel's ongoing attack on Gaza has claimed the lives of over 1,000 people, Udi's refusal to serve in an occupying force is an important act of resistance. I met Udi in May in Tel Aviv at a dinner with two other refusers. He told us that his position was not entirely supported by his family, but that he was clear about what he needed to do. In a context in which participation in the military is how one gains status in society,...

By Firas Ramalawi
Published: July 30, 2014

Note: I met Firas Ramalawi in May; he handled security for the AFSC staff delegation visit and was a bright, kind guide for us all. He works with AFSC’s Gaza office as their office manager.  He and his family live in the Shuja’iyah neighborhood of Gaza which came under intensive attack from Israel last week.  During those attacks as many as 200 Palestinians in the neighborhood were killed and much of the neighborhood was destroyed.  The Israeli military continues to carry operations in the neighborhood, destroying homes and blocking Palestinian access.  The story...

By Ayah Bashir
Published: July 22, 2014

Note: I met Ayah Bashir in Gaza in May. She is a program participant in AFSC’s Palestinian Youth: Together for Change program and has worked nonviolently for peace for years. She supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and has worked with agricultural committees in Gaza. I have been hearing from her almost daily with reports of bombing and friends who have died. She is a powerful speaker and determined activist.  She said to me, “I wonder how it would feel to be free.” She, along with many of the youth in the program in Gaza, danced with those of us on the...

By Bilal Taylor
Published: July 17, 2014

“If you've come here to help me, you're wasting your time. But if you've come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” ― Australian Aboriginal Elder Lilla Watson

Bil’in  is a traditional Palestinian farming village in the West Bank of about 1,000 acres that is home to 1,900 people.  When I first entered the village on our recent delegation to the region I was struck by two things. 

The first was the disconcerting contrast between the beautifully rocky natural landscape of the village and the ominous...