So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). Over her tomb Jacob set up a pillar, and to this day that pillar marks Rachel’s tomb. Genesis 35:19-20
Today, Rachel’s Tomb lies adjacent to Checkpoint 300 (also known as the Gilo Checkpoint). Several thousand Palestinians must navigate this checkpoint between 4 am and 7 am each weekday (Sunday through Thursday, for the Muslim population), to reach their jobs on the other side of the Israeli separation barrier. At this hour, these people are almost all men.
Israel began creating checkpoints in the 1990s, with the stated goal of enhancing the security of Israel and Israeli settlements, following the March 1993 deaths of nine Israeli civilians and six members of the Israeli military. Read more
As a child, Bethlehem-born, Christian Palestinian Sami Awad watched as his uncle was arrested and then deported from Israel for participating in nonviolent resistance to the occupation during the First Intifada (uprising). Sami’s father, Bishara Awad, had become a refugee at the age of nine when his father was killed, and the family was forced out of their home in West Jerusalem in 1948. Sami grew up knowing these stories, past and present, experiencing historic pain as well as his own oppression. He began to examine the power of nonviolence but wondered whether he could truly love his enemies as his faith, and Jesus, commands in the Bible.
“Christians are called to be peacemakers. The Christian understanding of peacemaking is about how you bring communities together and build relationships of trust and respect between them. This is what Christ did. He went to these communities, he went to his enemies, and he engaged with them and never marginalized anybody. He had compassion, he had understanding, and he created a space for healing to take place.” Read more
”If your son didn’t come home from school and you heard he was arrested, who can you call? If your husband is from the West Bank and you have Jerusalem residency, how will you get the permits necessary to live together? If you are on your way to university abroad and are denied exit from the West Bank, how will you get to your studies?”
These are examples of the questions asked by thousands of people who turn to the work Jessica Montell does at HaMoked each year. Since September of 2017, Montell has served as Executive Director of the human rights NGO HaMoked, which assists Palestinians living under the Israeli occupation, and the severe and ongoing violations of rights occupation causes. The organization provides free legal aid, works to change government and military policy, and upholds universal human rights principles. Read more
Amidst the daily realities of living under occupation, as the threat of demolition of homes and property hangs in the air, there are inspiring individuals and communities committed to peace. One example of such is peacemaker Tariq Hathaleen (24 years old), a Palestinian student who is working to finish his degree in English Education at a university in Hebron. Tariq is from Um El Kheir, a Bedouin Village in the South Hebron Hills, which is surrounded by a neighboring Israeli settlement, Carmel. Despite harassment by Carmel’s inhabitants, Tariq is committed to peace over hatred. He pursues further growth and development to serve his people in the interest of peace as his village continues to survive against all the odds. Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) is continually inspired by the work of young activists like Tariq as we continue to pursue a just peace for all living in the region. Read more
By Suzann Mollner, Executive Director of Beirut and Beyond
Early one morning last month, I was sitting at breakfast with Israeli and Palestinian women…as one does in Washington D.C. I was jetlagged and struggling to be alert; we all were for that matter. Somehow the topic of visiting all of them in Israel/Palestine came up. They knew I had been banned by Israel, which means I cannot enter Palestine, but they were formulating a plan. Both of the Israelis at the table told me to give their names as contacts, and said that I could stay with them. And a Palestinian chimed in, “and once you’re in…you’ll be with us.” Gesturing, “come on.” Meaning, you’ll be well taken care of by us Palestinians, but she knew I knew that.
I’m not sure they know how healing this 2-minute conversation was for me. Partly because they were trying to rectify a wrong done to me. Partly because they saw me. Partly because these are the very people caught in the everyday ins and outs of the Israel/Palestine conflict. The occupation of the West Bank directly affects their lives, and peacemaking has a real cost for them. But in that moment, they were thinking about how to get me, an American, in so we could be together. Read more
Mystic — Warren Clark, 81, a retired foreign service officer and ambassador, who lived in Mystic and Washington, D.C., died of cancer on Tuesday, July 24, 2018 with family by his side.
Ambassador Clark served between 1959 and 1963 on active duty in naval air intelligence based in Morocco, writing and giving briefings to Sixth Fleet commanders on political developments in the Middle East. He then spent 33 years in the U.S. foreign service at State Department posts in Washington, the Middle East, Europe, Canada, Africa and at the United Nations in New York. He served as U.S. ambassador to the Gabonese Republic and to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe from 1987 to 1989. While in Gabon he hosted a visit by the Rev. Jesse Jackson. In 1989 to 1990, as the first deputy to the assistant secretary of state for Africa, Ambassador Clark played a key role in shaping the George H. W. Bush administration’s efforts to nudge the apartheid regime in South Africa to peacefully relinquish power. Read more
Palestinians across the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip held marches on May 15 to commemorate the Nakba or “catastrophe”, which marks the forced displacement and dispossession of Palestinians from their homeland in 1948.
On Nakba Day in 2014, in the West Bank town of Beitunia, local Palestinians decided to gather around Ofer military court and prison to protest in solidarity with over 100 prisoners on a hunger strike against their administrative detention by Israeli authorities.
Among those to join the protest were 17-year-old Nadeem Siam Nawara and 16-year-old Mohammad Mahmoud Odeh Abu Daher. Read more
In Jabalia, Gaza’s most populated refugee camp, some 110,000 refugees pack an area of only 1.4 square kilometers.
Lacking a steady supply of basic services, like water and electricity, Jabalia has been hit hard by the eight-year Israeli siege on Gaza.
On July 28, 2014, 17-year-old Alaa Balata moved with his family to his uncle’s house deep inside Jabalia refugee camp and farther from the Israeli tanks shelling everywhere along Gaza’s border.
“[My father] thought we would be safer here.” Read more
On the afternoon of February 21, 2014, 11-year-old Fadel Abu Odwan was on his way to help his brother bring their sheep in for the night. The flock was grazing on land near the Sufa crossing between the southern Gaza Strip and Israel.
Before reaching his brother, Fadel was stopped by three Palestinian officers stationed at their usual spot.
The officers took Fadel’s slingshot, which he carries for hunting birds, and began to play with it.
Suddenly, Fadel saw two Israeli military jeeps speeding toward them from the other side of the border. Read more
Shireen Awwad Hedva Haymov
The importance of women in leadership positions in the Messianic Jewish and Christian faith communities is often undervalued However, when the voices of women are uplifted and heard, incredible strides are made towards peace and reconciliation. This is the reality these two inspiring women, Hedva Haymov and Shireen Awwad have been working diligently toward. Despite come from diverse backgrounds – Hedva, an American-born Israeli Messianic Jew, and Shireen, a Palestinian Christian living in Bethlehem – they both have found shared faith and passion for advancing peace in the Holy Land. Read more