“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.
Sandra Tamari, a Palestinian Quaker activist, offers her reflections on the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers, the abduction and burning alive of a young Palestinian, the collective punishment and mass arrests of Palestinians by Israel, and the continued siege and renewed attacks on Gaza.
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.
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression before—organizing Quakers is like “herding cats,” an impossibly frustrating task, often leading to an overabundance of structures created to quell the insecurities of so many strong-minded individuals. But that doesn’t stop us from trying to work together, motivated by a deep, Spiritually grounded commitment to justice. This spring, I witnessed one Yearly Meeting employ a variety of methods—both spiritual and intellectual—to bring together one Quaker body for deep, impactful social change work grounded in Love.
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.
In February of this year (2014), torrential rainfall in the East African country of Burundi led to devastating floods and the death of over 60 people, destroying properties and leaving 12,000 people homeless. The Burundi government came to the aid of the victims by calling together various relief organizations to provide support, including the American Friends Service Committee, Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities (HROC) and other Quaker organizations in Burundi. Together, these organizations developed an Action Plan to respond to the needs of the thousands of homeless and in
“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.
A few weeks ago I sat down with Linda Lewis, AFSC’s country representative for China and North Korea, during her visit to the Philadelphia office. She spent much of her time on the East Coast speaking with AFSC donors and Quakers in the area about her work with farmers in North Korea. Linda’s passion for this work comes through in her presentations and her stories. She may not discuss religion or spirituality with AFSC’s Korean partners in the region, but it was clear to me that the work was firmly rooted in the belief in a common humanity and dignity. -Madeline
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
Where we work
AFSC has offices around the world. To see a complete list see the Where We Work page.