Lynn MacMichael recently returned from one of her many trips to Israel/Palestine, where she joined 32 other delegation members from the United States and Canada for two weeks of meetings and information gathering among people and organizations, both
Israeli and Palestinian, who are working to bring peace to the
Lynn stayed on after the delegation left for another two weeks in hopes of getting into Gaza, which she had visited on four other occasions; returning to Hebron, and going to Ramallah. She was not able to get into Gaza. As one Israeli correspondent, Larry Derfner, wrote in the Jerusalem Post in October, “To this day, thousands of Gazans are living in tents because we won’t even let them import cement to rebuild the homes we destroyed.”
The great advantage of working with the Interfaith Peace Builders, the group that brings delegations to the region, is that we meet and work with both Israelis and Palestinians who are putting their lives on the line and working for peace in the region. This trip gave us a unique opportunity to meet face to face with people in organizations such as B’Selem, an Israeli human rights organization; the Jewish settlers in Hebron; Hebrew University students; Kibbutz members in Sderot and Zkim; and the Israeli New Profile group at Kibbutz Haogen.
It also provided us with the opportunity to see the “facts on the ground” by visiting the Deheisheh Refugee Camp in Bethlehem and traveling to the village of Masara where the Popular Committee is addressing the issue of the blocked roadways and nearby settlements through nonviolence. We went to a Palestinian vineyard, in the area around Nazareth and Jenin, where the olive harvest was taking place and where the Palestinian Fair Trade Association has organized 46 cooperatives to help sell their olive oil and other produce.
We heard from members of the Bereaved Family Circle, Israelis and Palestinians who have lost relatives and friends to the violence of the opposing side and have come together to support one another and seek ways of ending the Occupation so that others will not have to suffer the losses they have suffered.
We saw signs of hope in the people we met who, with great effort and courage, are addressing the Occupation, settlement building and the Wall, and the issues that are the obstacles to peace in the region.
We have a window of opportunity now to support those efforts. Israel receives almost $4 billion of U.S. taxpayer money every year. We need, as a nation, to look at how that money is spent and how we can address the issue of our own national security, right here in the United States given the policies we have had in the region. Some of these policies have been a recruiting tool for Al Qaeda and others who would do us harm.
Lynn MacMichael will make a presentation at the Woodward Park Library (944 E. Perrin Ave.) at 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 13. The slide presentation focuses on the obstacles to peace in the region, the effects of the current policies and the prospects for hope. As Bishop Naim Ateek says, “We are not pro-Palestinian, or pro-Israeli, we are pro peace, and we are all children of God.” The presentation is sponsored by Peace Fresno. Free admission.
For more information about the Interfaith Peace Builders delegations, visit www.interfaithpeacebuilders.org/.