Summer is Quaker travel season, a time when Yearly Meeting annual sessions and Quaker gatherings of all sorts occur one after the other, often concurrently, from the middle of May until early September. As the AFSC Friends Relations Associate, I traveled to a total of six Quaker conferences or business sessions this summer, talking about and presenting different aspects of AFSC’s work. Each session was imbued with its own flavor of Quaker faith and practice, heavily influenced by the unique geographical, political, and social context of its member meetings and churches.
Tetiena Harley, the Friends Relations summer intern, sat down with Hector Cortez, the Deputy General Secretary, to discuss his journey to the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), and how he plans to further AFSC’s mission to be a diverse and inclusive organization. Their conversation illuminates both the spiritual and practical dimensions of Hector’s work, work that has taken off since he started with the organization nearly one year ago. I had the privilege of attending the “Undoing Racism” workshop as part of this new initiative, and could feel the movement for real
Note: Here are three testimonies of people who are experiencing the current bombardment on Gaza. - Lucy
Testimony from Mrs. Naji H. Al Jamel, a social worker at the Union of Health Work Committees in Gaza, a few minutes before her house was shelled and destroyed in the Jabalia Refugee Camp
My husband and I were woken by our neighbors’ screaming. I was confused but knew that something had happened. I hurried with my husband to find out more. The neighbors told us that our house was going to be bombed. We had to leave immediately.
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
Udi Segal, a 19 year old Israeli, refused his mandatory military service on 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.
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.
“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.
Note: Sandra Tamari’s recent post on Acting in Faith spoke of the terrible price parents in the Occupied West Bank have paid for years with little or no protest from the international community as their children have been killed and arrested, usually with no one being held accountable. It makes clear that occupation is brutal and that that violence is felt every day.
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