This post is the fourth in a series of Acting in Faith entries by members of a May AFSC staff delegation to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. Mike Merryman-Lotze is program director of AFSC's Israel-Palestine program and served as one of two hosts for the delegation.
This post is one of a series of reflections from 10 AFSC staff members who went on a delegation to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory in May 2014. The trip left a huge impression and gave our staff much inspiration to continue to work for justice and peace in the region.
Note: In early May I was one of ten AFSC staff that traveled to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories to learn about AFSC’s work, meet partners and learn about the current context and situation there. AFSC youth organizer Shirien was another of the people on the delegation. Though she was detained for four and a half hours at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, she was admitted into the country. During the trip she was able to visit the destroyed villages of her parents’ families, Calonia and Majdal Yaba.
“How good it is, how pleasant for God’s people to live in unity.” – Psalm 133:1
The first time I experienced a gathered meeting was at Mid-Year Meeting of Iowa Yearly Meeting Conservative. We were in an old meeting house up on a hill that overlooked the prairie. It was a windy day. As we sat in meeting for worship, the wind whipped around us. The silence was deep and rich. As the wind swirled, stirring up dust and bringing a breeze into the meeting house, I could sense the Spirit also moving in the room. I felt as though we were one body, coming together.
“Can the Bible be redeemed? Has it been used as a weapon so much that we cannot redeem it?” These were questions that the Rev. Naim Ateek, founder of the Friends of Sabeel, asked at the Wide Tent for Justice: Next Steps for Peace in Palestine/Israel conference at the St. James Episcopal Church in Chicago, co-sponsored by AFSC.
Palestinian-American Sandra Tamari, a member of the St. Louis Religious Society of Friends, recounts how a small group of St. Louis activists brought the boycott and divestment movement for justice in Israel-Palestine to their city—and how their impact was felt across the world.
Nida’ Nassar, a 28-year-old from the Arab town of Arrabah in Israel, works continuously to sow a culture of civic engagement and to contribute to the elimination of sectarian conflict in Israel/Palestine.
Last month, she traveled to Belfast in Northern Ireland to take part in a media camp that boosted her confidence in working for change and provided her with skills to continue forward.
“We talked about tools, mechanisms, and how to overcome daily challenges in our lives,” she explains.
Quakers around the world are working for peace in Israel/Palestine by joining or supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.. Here is a collection of minutes and statements supporting the BDS movement and calling on all governments to end the dehumanizing effects of the Israeli occupation.
I have always had a very strong sense of direction rooted in my spirit. That said, there are few times in my life where I have felt as called as I did this spring.
I have been working on Palestine advocacy on Penn’s campus for the past year or so, and have always felt very emotionally invested in the struggle, but I had never been there. There came a point when I became so invested in the movement that it felt disingenuous of me to be advocating so fiercely for a place I had never visited.
AFSC is a Quaker organization devoted to service, development, and peace programs throughout the world. Our work is based on the belief in the worth of every person, and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice. Learn more
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