Walking in the lands we love, without fear

As we reflect on 2014 and dream into the future, I wish to share two recent blogs from a Canadian Ecumenical Accompanier (EA; click here), Zoë. She provides insight into the beauty of the land in the West Bank and how it is being changed (click here and here).

Her reflections bring to mind the intense joy that I experienced when I visited the tiny village of Yanoun in January 2011 – the place was a salve for my soul, after an intense six weeks in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem. Click here for more information about Yanoun and for a slide show of my photos from my visit.

Shortly after my visit to Yanoun, I found a book of poetic prose by Raja Shehadeh, a Palestinian lawyer, Palestinian Walks: Notes on a Vanishing Landscape. It won the Orwell Prize in 2008. Click here to learn more and to read some excerpts. See his additional commentary from 2009 here.

I share Shehadeh’s lament:

“How unaware many trekkers around the world are of what a luxury it is to be able to walk in the land they love without anger, fear or insecurity, just to be able to walk without political arguments running obsessively through their heads, without the fear of losing what they’ve come to love, without the anxiety that they will be deprived of the right to enjoy it. Simply to walk and savour what nature has to offer, as I was once able to do.” (Shehadeh, 2008, p. 33)

Let this lament be a basis for hope that, together, we might realize that we are collectively responsible for the political-economic conflicts in the world and that we might help to heal with the lands that we love…

 

At the kitchen table, we can begin again…

“The world begins at a kitchen table.” This is the first part of the first line of Joy Harjo’s poem, Perhaps the World Ends Here (click here and here).

I sought out these poetic words, after I received a notice in my Inbox from Zoë, a Canadian Ecumenical Accompanier (EA) placed in Jayyus, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. She posted a photo essay of a cooking lesson with Lina, from earlier today (click here).

Then, I read a recent comment on my blog, a comment from Debbie, the Canadian EA placed in East Jerusalem. She wrote to say that she participated in a recent gathering to consider how Palestinians and Israelis might gather around food and art… to build trust and relationships. (See her full comment by clicking here and then scroll down.)

“The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table.” (Joy Harjo continues…)

“At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.” (Joy Harjo adds…)

We begin, again…

 

A choice: Human security – Dear Ambassador Bercovici…

Have you heard that we have a new Canadian ambassador to Israel? Her name is Vivian Bercovici (more info here). Have you read about some of the concerns about her appointment (for example, click here)? That she is a “staunch supporter of Israel” (click here) and its security policies? Perhaps, Prime Minister Harper and our federal government have made a choice that will serve their interests in support of the government of Israel. I am concerned by this choice. And so, I write to Ms. Bercovici…

“Dear Ambassador Bercovici,

Thank you for your willingness to represent Canada in Israel. Your position has immense responsibility. In your representation of us all, as Canadians, please…please look past the rhetoric of state-oriented definitions of security. Please go to Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem and touch that Wall. The Israeli government describes it as a Security Wall (more info). But, the only thing that wall does is separate people. It keeps people apart. It is an apartness wall – an apartheid wall.Israeli Separation Wall dividing East Jerusalem

Israeli Separation Wall dividing East Jerusalem – 10 Dec. 2010 – Photo: Sherry Ann

Please listen to the conversations nearby, for example, those at the Qalandiya Checkpoint where Palestinians are stopped in their tracks. Listen to the questions: What is happening with Canadian foreign policy that it increasingly supports Israeli government interests? Please accept invitations to walk through Qalandiya Checkpoint, rather than be driven in a darkly tinted and ‘secure’ vehicle…

Qalandiya Checkpoint - 10 Feb. 2011 - Photo: Sherry Ann

Qalandiya Checkpoint – 10 Feb. 2011 – Photo: Sherry Ann

In such situations, I hope that you will perceive a choice…to support “human security which exists when people are safe from direct and structural forms of violence [click here] and are able to meet their basic needs and rights. Human security advocates seek to replace or broaden traditional state-based definitions of security that focus on protecting territory or national interests. Human security aims to reduce the threats of disease, poverty, crime, and other factors that lessen the quality of life” (Schirch, 2004, p. 17).

Last year, as you commented on the Israeli government elections, you wrote: “So in the end, it really doesn’t matter to them [the Palestinian Authority] who wins and leads in Israel. There is no willing negotiator on the Palestinian side” (click here). I disagree with your observation, because I know that many Palestinians do wish to co-create a just peace. Jean Zaru who is Palestinian and a Quaker has written: “Both Israelis and Palestinians live in fear. Neither Israelis nor Palestinians have peace. Both Israelis and Palestinians yearn for security. Others cannot give us freedom, peace, and security. No government, no army, no wall no matter how long or high will provide for us what can only be supplied by the cultivation of mutuality and trust” (Zaru, 2008, p. 129).

As a Canadian, I ask that you represent me in a way that seeks dialogue with not only Israelis but also Palestinians – both of whom include people who are working hard toward human security and ending the Israeli government’s occupation of Palestine. When next you board a plane for Palestine-Israel, please pack two slim volumes in your carry-on bag for reading on your journey:

Jean Zaru’s (2008) Occupied with Nonviolence: A Palestinian Woman Speaks, and

Lisa Schirch’s (2004)  The Little Book of Strategic Peacebuilding: A vision and framework for peace with justice.

Thank you,

Sherry Ann”

Let’s be all that we can be… in 2014.

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” George Eliot (the pen name for Mary Ann Evans, English author, 1819-1880)

I offer thanks to Bob Hetherington, who shared this quotation during a reflection at Southminster-Steinhauer United Church today (click here).

As we transition into new circles of time and place in 2014, I share the hope that I feel, as I sit by a warm fire in western Canada and listen to this tribute to the late Nelson Mandela by the Soweto Gospel Choir in a Woolworths Food store in South Africa (click here). Mandela touched us, on a global scale…

Imagine what would happen if each of us, with support from each other, were to be all that we have dreamed of being… in 2014.

Peace.

I choose a just peace for all on Earth, on Human Rights Day (10 Dec. 2013).

I feel sick. I have just learned about a new example of the Canadian government’s complicity in the Israeli government’s illegal occupation of Palestine. The Canadian group, Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) (click here), reports the following:

“Harper will be the first sitting Prime Minister in Canadian history to be honoured by the JNF [Jewish National Fund] at one of their fundraising galas [on 1 Dec. 2013]. A bird sanctuary—the Stephen J. Harper Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary Visitor and Education Centre—is a new JNF project that sits over the lands belonging to dispossessed Palestinian fishermen and their families, who are banned from ever returning.

‘It’s ironic that Harper is being honoured with a bird sanctuary in his name, while his government has one of the worst environmental records of any in Canadian history,’ says [Tyler] Levitan. “Does Harper care more about the Hula Valley in Israel than the Athabasca watershed in his home province of Alberta, and the enormous ecological destruction—poisoning wildlife and First Nations communities—caused by the bituminous sands?’   -For further information contact: Tyler Levitan, Campaigns Coordinator for Independent Jewish Voices – Canada, (613) 400-2550, tyler@ijvcanada.org”

As I wrote on 25 June 2011 (click here), “Lake Hula used to serve as a natural filter of [several] rivers into the Sea of Galilee (Tiberias Lake). But Lake Hula has shrunk considerably as a result of water-intensive agriculture and military (nuclear) purposes in Israel.”

On 31 March 2012 (click here), I wrote: “As a Canadian, I am embarrassed that a place (that is part of the story of the expulsion of Palestinians) in the occupied West Bank would be named Canada Park. I am moved to think about Canada’s own colonial history. I choose to listen and learn and join the global movement for justice for all….”

How will you mark Human Rights Day on 10 Dec. 2013, as a Canadian? As a global citizen?  (click here)

Why not write to Prime Minister Harper, or the Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird? Ask them to take a stance against the Prawer-Begin Bill that ‘promises’ to displace Bedouin citizens living in the Naqab (Negev) desert in the south of Israel. If enacted into law and implemented, the bill would result in the destruction of 35 “unrecognized” Bedouin villages in the Naqab and the forced displacement of up to 70,000 Bedouin citizens of Israel from their land and homes. To learn more, click here and here.

Unsettling Goods – a consumer choice

Once upon a time – no scratch that. That suggests a fairy tale, and this is no fairy tale. This is reality. This blog posting is about a reality that is “unsettling”…. To be unsettled, though, is not a bad thing. That feeling can move us into identifying hope and taking steps toward that hope (see Active Hope). Please see the end of this posting to learn about “Unsettling Goods: Choose Peace in Palestine and Israel” (click here). Learn how you can take action.          ~~~~~~~~~~

We live in an increasingly politically and economically interdependent, global society. This means that what we purchase in one part of the world will have an effect in another part of the world.

For example, yesterday (‘Black Friday’), I, in a western Canadian city, was presented with an advertisement, in a Hudson’s Bay flyer, for SodaStream – “Appealing to foodies and environmentalists alike, SodaStream’s simple-yet-sleek system makes perfectly carbonated water and soda at the touch of a button.”

For ‘only’ $199.99, a consumer can buy this NEW Revolution Black by SODASTREAM. It’s a sleek, compact, and fancy looking appliance that appears to carbonate water. Add a bit of SodaStream cocktail syrup and voilà – you have a fancy, fizzy drink. No plastic bottle to deal with. All in the comfort of your own home.

Here’s the reality check:  SodaStream is a company that manufactures its products in Israeli-government occupied Palestinian territory but labels these products as though they’re made in Israel. Nothing on that sleek Revolution Black indicates that it was made in illegally occupied territory. Nothing indicates that that Revolution Black was made just east of Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem, in the occupied West Bank – next door to where my friends, long-displaced Bedouin families, have been relegated to live (next to the reek of the Jerusalem garbage dump) . Because the Israeli government wants the land. For political and economic gain (click here).

Much like the British Empire wanted ‘the land’ of Turtle Island a few centuries ago and granted the Hudson’s Bay Company rights to occupy that land. Building up trade for products that citizens might buy.

How would anyone know that by ‘taking advantage’ of “Black Friday” (weekend) sales of snazzy looking items that are mislabeled, that that would help to shore up the Hudson’s Bay in Canada and SodaStream in the occupied West Bank and the Israeli government?

Yet, this is the reality. Now what do we do?

Why not re-claim the name of that Revolution Black? On this “Black Friday” weekend, let’s join a new consumer revolution. Consider the following hopeful shift.

Imagine that consumer conscience will grow and consumers will refuse to buy Revolution Black because it is not properly labeled. They/We will realize that we are able to influence Hudson’s Bay to pressure the Canadian government to require the Israeli government to label all products accurately – whether from Israel or from the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

Who would have thought that by refusing to buy mislabeled products, people in one part of the world could join a revolution in another part of the world – to grow a just peace in Palestine and Israel?

How to join this hopeful revolution? Check out the action list at the end of this posting and listen to this new song (click here): Unsettling Goods  by Tony Quarrington

“This soda machine was made in a factory
Which stands in an old land where olive groves grew,
Made in a place where homes were was ploughed under
That now is a settlement, thriving and new.
Built on a site from which people were scattered,
Driven away from their history and place,
Whose traces have vanished, whose name is deleted,
Whose story is written in each suffering face

CHORUS
Unsettling goods that are not good for all,
Made in the shadow of checkpoint and Wall,
Built with guns and with prisons, bulldozers and fists,
Justice means crossing these goods off your list …”

ACTION LIST:

The United Church of Canada’s campaign, Unsettling Goods – Click here.

A fact sheet about SodaStream, from the Unsettling Goods resources – Click here.

Contact Hudson’s Bay to ask them to stop selling SodaStream products and to ask Hudson’s Bay to ask SodaStream to label clearly the products it makes in Israeli settlements. Invite Hudson’s Bay to join The United Church of Canada in asking the Canadian government to require all settlement-made products that are sold in this country to be labelled clearly. Click here.

The United Network for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel (UNJPPI) launch of the Unsettling Goods campaign is on December 3, 2013. Please participate as you can! See how here.

Canadian Boycott Coalition for Justice in Palestine/Israel – Re: settlement products. Click here.

“I do not like SodaStream [with apologies to Dr. Seuss].” Click here.

Boycott SodaStream – Click here.

Global Exchange – Click here.
Postcard – Click here.

Joint Tweet – Click here to participate in a joint Tweet to Target which distributes SodaStream in the US. The joint Tweet “will automatically be sent out on the last day of [this] action — December 10, Human Rights Day — by all who sign up. This will help amplify the message to Target that buying products that profit from abuse of Palestinian rights isn’t our kind of holiday.”

Dear Jian Ghomeshi – Please reconsider what this means for peace…

Dear Jian,

Please click here. Please know that your plan to serve as Master of Ceremonies on 6 May 2013 in the Toronto fundraiser by the Canadian Friends of Hebrew University (CFHU) concerns me, as a Canadian and as a supporter of international law. Please decline the invitation to host the fundraiser. Do you know that Hebrew University is partially located on illegally occupied and unilaterally annexed land – that of East Jerusalem? The permanent status of Jerusalem is an unresolved issue that needs to be addressed in the Israeli government’s occupation of Palestine (click here). By declining to participate you will help to remind Canadians and the global community that we share a responsibility to re-open conversations for a just peace in Palestine and Israel. For additional information, please see below.

Thank you for considering my letter.

Sherry Ann”

Looking over Old-City rooftops to Hebrew University in occupied East Jerusalem - 10 Dec. 2010 - Photo: Sherry Ann

Looking over Old-City rooftops to Hebrew University in occupied East Jerusalem – 10 Dec. 2010 – Photo: Sherry Ann

To send your message to Jian Ghomeshi, click here.

For additional information, see the website of the Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (click here and here).

See this webpage (here) for background information regarding the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).

See information (here) regarding the growing effort to encourage Morgan Freeman to decline the award to be given to him at the CFHU event.