By: Corey Holmes, PhD Researcher, Howard University
I must admit, I was uninformed regarding the magnitude of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I knew of Yasser Arafat and his commitment to peace in the Middle East, earning him a share of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994. I also understood that Israel was “holy ground” for God’s people and the place where many citizens go to worship and visit holy sites. After visiting Israel for almost two weeks, it is still a very complex place where some form of all sides hold truth. This post is simply thoughts on my experiences while in Israel meeting with Palestinians, visiting holy sites, and listening to views on this conflict.
The remapping of lines to construct borders is nothing new. During 1884-85, the Berlin Conference in the “Scramble for Africa” divided the African continent among 13 European countries, in the quest for civility and a “Christian way of life”. Imperialism and eventually colonialism was established, and currently Africa is starting to feel the effects of elitism and classism among its diverse populations.
Comparably, the first Prime Minister of Israel, David-Ben Gurion, with the blessing of U.S. President Harry Truman, created the independent sovereign state of Israel in May 1948. A few years prior, the United States was faced with a tough decision due to the potential alliance of the Soviet Union (its starkest enemy at the time), with Arab nations who held most of the world’s oil resources. President Truman wanted the U.S. Department of State to conduct talks with both Jews and Arabs to see if a resolution was possible before intervening. In 1946, President Truman created a special cabinet led by Assistant Secretary of State, Dr. Henry Grady, to oversee the region and conduct negotiations with the British who held economic and political interests in Palestine. The U.S. Department of State recommended the creation of a United Nations trusteeship with limits on Jewish immigration, and the division of Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab provinces, not states. Continue reading
We are excited to announce an opportunity specifically designed for young adults of color. In 2013, Peace Not Walls and ELCA Young Adult Ministry created a strategy of engagement for young adults to travel to the Holy Land and connect with the Peace Not Walls Campaign. Phase One was a leadership opportunity designed to train 16 leaders to create and lead trips of their own for other young adults. This effort has allowed over 70 young adults to travel to the Holy Land and engage in Peace Not Walls efforts here in the US!
We are excited to announce that Phase Two has been approved! From now until January 16, 2017, applications are available for young adults of color to apply to be leaders who will be trained, nurtured and supported to lead trips for other young adults of color over the next two years. We recognized that Phase One did not include enough diverse voices and we are committed to increasing the number of young adults who have this type of opportunity.
We will be selecting 16 young adults of color who will engage in travel, training and planning for their own trips. Young adults should be between the ages of 21 and 30. The application is now live! The deadline for all application materials is January 16, 2017.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please fill out the form on the ‘Contact Us‘ page.
As we entered Galilee, we encountered rolling dessert hills, palm trees, flowers of all colors, which eventually turned into grassy mountains with livestock and olive trees. Pictures cannot even begin to capture it’s beauty. After all, it is the land of milk and honey. Despite the beauty of the country, it is very much divided and unjust. A Palestinian woman describes her story: ‘The children ask me, “Mamma, we want to have fun, why can’t we go (to the other side of the wall)?” I tell them we cannot go because we are living in a prison and do not have permission to leave. We cannot go because we are controlled by the Israelis.’ (Mira from Bethlehem.)
The three A’s of Peace Not Walls are Awareness, Accompaniment, and Advocacy. Throughout our time in the Holy Land thus far, we’ve taken time to define as a group what these words mean to us and discuss how we can embody them. On Wednesday morning, we got a taste of all three A’s, thanks in large part to the Lutheran World Federation. Continue reading
Growing together with this group has been a wonderful experience. We have seen the harsh realities of Hebron, walking through streets filled with soldiers, and hearing stories of what it means to live under occupation. We have traveled to Galilee to see holy sites and ponder on the meaning of holiness. Tomorrow we will visit Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum, and end the day in Bethlehem to stay in Palestinian homes for the next few nights. So much to soak in, so much to learn. We continue to grow together as we talk about issues of injustice, and share stories of our faith. Thankful for a group of young adults who are wanting to engage and accompany the people here, listening to the realities of the land.
~ Anna Sloss
Today we visited Hebron; a city that that truly exemplifies this place as the “holy and broken land.” I am not quite sure exactly where to start because, no matter what I write, there is no way I can fully express to you the impact that this city has had on my outlook of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Much of what we have seen so far has been Palestine. The people in the places we have seen have been all Palestinians and they are completely separate from the Israelis. However Hebron is different. Continue reading
Top of the morning on our first full day in Israel, we went to the Evangelical Church of the Redeemer in Old City. When we got there, Rev. Carrie Smith greeted us warmly, she gave a beautiful sermon about how righteousness will conquer, and evilness will perish. And also the Palestinian concept of Sumud, which was told to me through the her sermon as, “Sumud is translated to something like ‘steadfastness in the face of oppression.’ Sumud is what you have when your roots go deep into the soil. It is the kind of strength that comes, not from being the tallest or the strongest or the fastest growing, but from being close to the source of water and of life.” I thought this applies very effortlessly to the reason and meaning of our trip. We look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with different views and opinions and it is just so interesting to hear the Palestinian side and think they have to live their life in this situation but to try to survive in such an elegant and thoughtful way is exceptionally mind-blowing. Continue reading
Yesterday, the 13 of us arrived in Israel. The seven of us coming from Indiana landed in Tel Aviv late in the morning. After sitting on planes for endless hours and being questioned by airport security, setting foot on the ground of the Holy Land was nothing short of surreal. Continue reading
As I type this bags are being packed, itineraries are being checked and double checked, and a few last minute plans are coming together. This week 13 young adults from Indiana, Colorado and California will head off to meet in person for the first time on the ground in Israel and Palestine.
Our trip will explore what it means to be a pilgrim, what it means to live and work in the midst of conflict and occupation and what it means to follow in the steps of Jesus in a land where everything you do is a political act.
Keep an eye on this page as our trip sets off. We will be using it to post photos, reflections, and questions as we journey through the Holy Land on this trip.