Tuesday, May 9

MCC Palestine Update #121

MCC Palestine Update #121

9 May 2006

MCC Learning Tour: “Peacebuilding in Palestine / Israel: Supporting Alternative Forms of Resistance – An Ongoing Discussion”

Last year, MCC produced a discussion paper called “Peacebuilding in Palestine / Israel: A Discussion Paper” meant to help facilitate a conversation in communities back in North America about stewardship, morally responsible investment / divestment, and economic justice. This paper (available online at http://www.mcc.org/papers/2005-05_Peacebuilding_in_Palestine-Israel.pdf) points out:

“Palestinians and Israelis working for a just resolution of the conflict lamented that decades of appeal to international law and resolutions have failed to end this story of dispossession, with Israeli power routinely trumping appeals to the power of law. Palestinian Christian partners, in particular, urged Christians in the West to take a stand for justice, peace, and reconciliation for Palestinians and Israelis alike, a stand that markedly differs from Christian Zionist theologies that deny Palestinians a secure place in the land. These trusted partner organizations urged MCC to consider ways in which Christians from Canada and the United States might invest in a future of justice and peace for both peoples and to examine ways in which our money either promotes justice, peace, and reconciliation in Palestine/Israel or contributes to the ongoing dispossession.”

As a follow-up to this paper and as an effort to further this conversation along in our communities, this past month in April MCC Palestine organized and hosted two learning tours to the region. These delegations included MCC staff from Canada and the U.S. including our offices in New York, Washington, DC and our headquarters in Winnipeg and Akron, PA as well as representatives from Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada.

These learning tours specifically intended to show participants why MCC Palestine and our partners feel that seemingly “critical” or “negative” measures such as divestment are being called for in the present context.

Throughout both tours, we met with many of MCC’s Palestinian and Israeli partners, including the Wi’am Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center (http://www.planet.edu/~alaslah/), the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center (http://www.sabeel.org/), the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (http://www.arij.org/), the Badil Resource Center for Residency and Refugee Rights (http://www.badil.org/), the Zochrot Association (http://www.nakbainhebrew.org/), the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (http://www.icahd.org/eng/), the YMCA Rehabilitation Program (http://www.ej-ymca.org/site/Display-Doc.cfm?DocID=33), the Stop the Wall Campaign (http://www.stopthewall.org/) as well as meeting with people from Open Bethlehem (http://www.openbethlehem.org/) and Christian Peacemaker Teams in Hebron (http://www.cpt.org/). In these meetings, we heard their perspectives on the current realities on the ground and on how they see the role of churches in the Global North in this situation here in Palestine / Israel—particularly how it relates to the call from both Palestinians and Israelis for “morally responsible investment.”

In addition to this, we also made several field visits to see first-hand the reality on the ground, such as: the impact of the Wall and of Israeli colonization of Palestinian territory all around Jerusalem and in places like Hebron and the west Bethlehem village of Nahalin; the situation in Palestinian refugee camps; the remains of Palestinian villages destroyed in 1948 and 1967, learning more about the importance of the refugee issue to a durable solution for a just and lasting peace.

An important element of both tours was to hear the voices of Palestinian Christian as it relates to these issues, such as Rev. Mitri Raheb, pastor of the Lutheran Christmas Church and director of the International Center in Bethlehem (http://www.annadwa.org/), Rev. Alex Awad, pastor of the East Jerusalem Baptist Church and Dean of Students at Bethlehem Bible College (http://www.bethlehembiblecollege.edu/), and Rev. Naim Ateek and Cedar Duaybis from Sabeel. We had the opportunity to worship with our friends at Sabeel, hear about their work and about how Sabeel is involved with the call for “morally responsible investment” (learn more at http://www.sabeel.org/documents/A%20nonviolence%20sabeel%20second%20revision.pdf).

In this update, we also wanted to share with you a reflection from Grant Rissler, one of the delegation participants and MCC East Coast peace and justice coordinator. Attached please find, in pdf format, Grant’s report.

We would ask that as you continue to keep the people of land in your thoughts and prayers that you would prayerfully discuss these important issues in your communities, reflecting on how MCC and Mennonite and Brethren in Christ churches should respond in our pursuit of a peace born of justice for all, where everyone will sit securely under vine and fig tree with no one to make them afraid (Micah 4:4).

As always, if there are any thoughts or questions you might have, please feel free to share them with us.

Peace to you all,

Timothy and Christi Seidel
Peace Development Workers
Mennonite Central Committee – Palestine


· Grant Rissler, “Jesus Wept: Are We Likewise Called?,” A Periodic E-Letter on Peace & Justice Issues from MCC East Coast.


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