Mid East Peace building
A Healing Among Nations and F.O.R Mideast Interfaith Peace Building Delegation to Israel and Occupied Territories, January 2001
The program consists of four approximately equal aspects:
- Develop healthy relations that foster ways to implement Peacemaking teams in the Mid East in order to reduce the violence and differences which exist.
- Learning about the conflict through meetings with Palestinian and Israeli activists and organizations which are involved in peace, human rights, and coexistence efforts.
- To Listen. To gather stories of solidarity and goodwill and serve as a link disseminating truthful information about the situation and its needs in the Mid East, in order to educate and promote greater understanding and tolerance in the United States.
- Visiting religious sites, or free time for inter cultural sharing through social activities with families and communities in both Palestine and Israel.
The value of this project is that it combines concrete physical assistance, solidarity with Palestinian and Israeli peace and human rights organizations, and education for North Americans so that they can work to change American attitudes and policies in the direction of a durable peace. The project is envisioned to be similar to the earlier FOR Mideast Witness program, during the first intifada, in which small groups of North Americans came to stay in Palestinian and Israeli homes, experience first-hand the situation of Palestinian communities in the West Bank and Gaza and in Israel and meet with Israeli and Palestinian peace and human rights activists to learn about the conflict. The major content difference is the additional component of literal peace building.
Goals of the Project
- To educate North Americans about the current situation in Israel/Palestine.
- To stand in solidarity with and support Palestinian and Israeli activists and organizations that are working for human rights, a just peace, and coexistence.
- To provide direct material and human assistance to people and communities which have suffered from the war.
- To work with Palestinian and Israeli ngo leaders and organizers to determine ways in which North Americans might work in our congregations, with the US government, the UN, or other bodies to encourage an end to the violence and the creation of a sustainable and just peace for both Israelis and Palestinians.
- It is hoped that the presence of North Americans in Palestinian communities may actually deter shelling and bombing by Israeli forces.
- To work for reconciliation between the two people through bereaved families from both sides.
- To try and encourage a leadership on both sides that will support reconciliation.
The delegation made contact with all support organizations, including the Center for Rapprochement, Israeli Committee against House Demolition, AFSC, MCC, CPT, and Sabeel Liberation Theology Center in Israel/Palestine. AHAN will bring Yitzhak Frankenthal of Families Forum to Los Angeles to bring Palestinians, Christians, Muslims and Jews together for in depth dialogue. Families Forum is a group of over 186 Palesinian and Israeli Families that promote nonviolence, no vengeance. These families have all lost children in the war and speak for Peace as the only way.
The January delegation was able to solidify the relations with the people and organizations in Israel/Palestine on the ground. We will return to work with AFSC, MCC, CPT, Friends of Sabeel, and others to see how we can effectively organize a more permanent structure for putting together the Interfaith Peace Building Program and begin dialogue on implementing the World Peace Parliament model. We would need to figure out how many Peacemaker delegations the PCR can comfortably handle. We would need to plan where and who would do the orientation and debriefing before the delegations left and when they returned. We also would need to work on informational/educational packets, information on how to use the information and insights which the participants received during the delegations with media, community groups, friends and congregations.
Lynn Gottlieb, Rabbi of the Nahalat Shalom Synagogue in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is one of the first women rabbis in the US. She is on the national board of the Jewish Peace Fellowship, and is the author of a well received book, She Who Dwells Within.
Doug Hostetter was the International/Interfaith Secretary of the Fellowship of Reconciliation in the US. He has traveled often to Israel/Palestine and other conflict areas. He is the author of many articles and the 1997 book published by Pendle Hill, The Bosnian Student Project, A Response to Genocide.
Virginia Barron, for many years the editor of Fellowship Magazine, is the President of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation. Virginia has been doing research and writing for a number of years on the village of Beit Sahour, in the West Bank, Palestine/Israel.
Staazia White, South African representative, was a young soldier in the apartheid army. An international youth leader for peace, she has witnessed the power of forgiveness and reconciliation in her own country participating in peacebuilding with Archbishop Tutu’s early work.
Bonnie S. Mansdorf, Founder and Executive Director of the Foundation for A Healing Among Nations, a spiritually based peace fellowship with a coalition of over fifty international organization members. She has served as the diplomatic liaison in meetings with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hahn, Mrs.Rosa Parks, Dadi Prakashmani and many more.
Pamela Midell (FOR National Council and Buddhist Peace Fellowship)
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