Reflections on this first week of Ecumenical Accompaniment work…an intense experience…

On 20 December 2010, we attended the Christmas party in Sheikh Jarrah, an East Jerusalem neighbourhood in which Israeli settler groups have forcibly evicted the Palestinian, Al-Kurd, Hanoun, Al-Ghawi, and Rifhqa Al-Kurd families from their homes. Since late 2008, more than 60 Palestinians, including 24 children, have been forced onto the streets. Even as the settlers looked on, the evicted families celebrated and shared their hopes for 2011.

Sheikh Jarrah Christmas Party - Israeli Settlers on seized rooftop_20Dec10

Sheikh Jarrah Christmas Party - Israeli Settlers on seized rooftop_20Dec10

 

Wishes of Sheikh Jarrah Children for 2011_20Dec10

Wishes of Sheikh Jarrah Children for 2011_20Dec10

Umm Kamel - Sheikh Jarrah Christmas Party - 20Dec10

Umm Kamel - Sheikh Jarrah Christmas Party - 20Dec10

See news articles about Umm Kamel, a woman who has become one of the faces of Sheikh Jarrah. Also, see this October 2010 report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

On 20 December 2010, we received this report:  Human Rights Watch. (2010, December). Separate and Unequal: Israel’s Discriminatory Treatment of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. New York: Authors. 

An excerpt, p. 5: “As the occupying power in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Israel is obliged to ensure the welfare of the occupied population and to limit its actions according to the law of occupation as set forth in international humanitarian law. In some cases, Israeli policies have made Palestinian communities virtually uninhabitable and effectively forced residents to leave. According to a survey of households in Area C and East Jerusalem in June 2009, some 31% of Palestinian residents had been discplaced since 2000 [see Save the Children document].”

On 21 December 2010… Within 1.5 hours, our Jerusalem team received three home-demolition alerts on my phone. We accompanied the family in the second demolition and tried unsuccessfully to locate the third demolition. The Bethlehem EAPPI team companied the family from the first demolition. Here is the information that we received in the Alert:

Demolition Working Group Alert 12:01 pm – Demolition ongoing of a Palestinian (inhabited) home in Ras al Ahmud in East Jerusalem.

Musa Ali Ibrahim Subah - East Jerusalem - 21Dec10

Musa Ali Ibrahim Subah - East Jerusalem - 21Dec10

In the final conversation that we had with Aida Musa Subah and her husband, Musa Ali Ibrahim Subah, he said, “We have no home.” He asked: “Pray for us. Thanks for coming. Maybe because you come here and are in solidarity [things will be better]….I will be alone but I know others will be here [i.e., because you will tell the world].”

On 22 December 2010, we responded to a request from the EAPPI UK/Eire Coordination office. They have asked us for quotations from Jerusalem residents, to be printed on a leaflet for use during World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel (29 May – 4 June 2011).

We have started asking for local people’s thoughts…

Jahalin Bedouin teen girl: “Jerusalem is my heart and my home.”

Jahalin Bedouin Teen's words - 22Dec10

Jahalin Bedouin Teen's words - 22Dec10

Note: Having already turned 16, she cannot visit Jerusalem except during Ramadan or if she has a health problem and if she can obtain a health permit.

Sune Fahlgren, Bilda: Swedish Christian Study Centre, Director: “Jerusalem is the cornerstone in this [peace] process…. There is no united effort to change it [the situation]. As long as the [Separation] Wall is not a problem for the rest of the world, what does it make inside [a person] for Israel to treat people [in such a] humiliating [way] at Checkpoints.”

On 23 December 2010, two of us attended Sabeel’s Communion service at 12 pm. Sabeel is the Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem. The centre was founded by Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek in 1990 and works for justice, peace, and reconciliation in Palestine-Israel. The word, sabeel, is Arabic for ‘the way’ and also ‘a channel’ or ‘spring’. The weekly service is open to the community and facilitates a wave of prayer through the world’s time zones as individuals and groups pray together in solidarity with Sabeel in Jerusalem and with Friends of Sabeel worldwide.

Rev. Naim Ateek - Sabeel - 23Dec10 - Credit: J. Graham, KAIROS

Rev. Naim Ateek - Sabeel - 23Dec10 - Credit: J. Graham, KAIROS

On Thursday, Rev. Ateek invited us into conversation about what is righteous in a time of Occupation and how people might rise above unjust laws. He invited us to remember the meaning of the name given to Jesus, Emmanuel: “God with us”. We are not alone.

In searching online for information about Sabeel, I found this video (Oct. 2009) which concludes with this thought: “Keep the energy; keep the fire burning. I hope some of you will get together and begin working on a strategy because many of us cannot listen anymore to analysis. We must move beyond that to effecting change. And I think we can do it.”

3 thoughts on “Reflections on this first week of Ecumenical Accompaniment work…an intense experience…

  1. Thinking of you this Christmas morning, and praying for a justbpeace in the Israeli/Palestine situation. The very phrase “home demolition” sounds so devastating on this morning when so many of us are gathered in our homes contemplating our spiritual journeys in the light of the teachings of the Bethlehem Child. Salaam/Shalom.

  2. After viewing videos of the Wall, and Rev Ateek’s address in Washington, I realize that change must come through the actions of people – individuals and groups – who are able to rise above their fears and seek to acknowledge diverse perspectives in order to create peace.

  3. Pingback: Insight into stories told about Palestinian Christians | EA Stories4Peace

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