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From Des Moines to Gaza, hope in people, not walls

From Des Moines to Gaza, hope in people, not walls

Published: June 11, 2014
Katie Huerter speaking in Des Moines June 2014

Katie Huerter of AFSC Iowa speaks about her May 2014 trip to Palestine at the Des Moines Valley Friends Meeting House.

Photo: AFSC / Michael Gillespie
MFSA bridges not walls graphic June 2014

MFSA Iowa "Bridges not Walls" graphic, June 2014

Photo: AFSC / MFSA Iowa

In May 2014, Katie Huerter, AFSC Iowa Middle East Peace Associate, traveled with an AFSC delegation to Israel-Palestine; she's now available for speaking engagements. In June, Kathleen McQuillen, AFSC Iowa Program Coordinator, spoke at the annual Iowa Methodist Federation for Social Action march and rally focusing on building bridges, not walls.

Katie writes: "Upon my return from Palestine, I am encouraged by the hope and inspired by the strength, the courage, and the resilience I experienced when meeting with Palestinian youth. 

"Palestinian youth across the West Bank, Gaza and inside Israel (’48) are tangibly creating new and groundbreaking approaches that are addressing, visualizing and implementing concrete actions and campaigns aimed at tackling complex issues in revolutionary ways, such as creating a collective Palestinian identity across Gaza, the West Bank and ’48, and visualizing the Palestinian Right of Return. 

"I am driven more than ever to share their stories with Iowa youth, and all people who care about supporting a future for Palestinian youth, wherein freedom of movement is assured; wherein there is no blockade, no siege on Gaza, and education and employment opportunities exist.”

Kathleen says: "Imagine: Bridges Not Walls – a beautiful concept. I speak today of Israel’s concrete and wire separation wall. Built on Palestinian land, this wall separates Palestinians from each other, from their land, and from their livelihood. And I think of the walls erected by Jim Crow-type laws prohibiting Palestinians from building on their own lands while protecting Israeli settlers doing violence to the people and the land.

"Walls do not stand on their own. They require supports. The United Methodist Church's investment in the tools of occupation provide some of that support that holds together the occupation and the system of oppression. For me to imagine bridges not walls, I have to imagine that United Methodists will join the call from Palestinians Christians to divest from the tools of occupation, and let those walls fall down."

More about AFSC's work for Middle East peace can be found here. Katie can be reached at She's also on Twitter. Kathleen's e-mail is