The Power of Presence

By: Harleigh Boldridge (Decorah, IA)

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In his book A Life of Being, Having, and Doing Enough*, Wayne Muller explores what we, as social beings, can do to support  one another in the event of extreme trauma. To the reader he says, “Perhaps the greatest wealth you possess, the most precious, valuable gift you can ever hope to offer any human being, is this one, simple, true thing: You. Your presence.” After reading this in one of my social work classes, I thought I understood Muller’s philosophy of how we can support others through intense sorrow, sudden trauma, or simply overwhelming life events, but recent experiences have renewed my understanding and given it a new light. Continue reading

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Hope: The Dance of Life

By: Maya Mineoi (Toledo, OH)

As we prepared to leave Palestine, Rev. Imad Haddad, pastor of Church of Hope in Ramallah, asked us if we would deliver a message of hope or a message of despair to our friends back home. I was struck by his question. I felt the responsibility to convey a message of accountability to the United States of America. Many of the other people we met turned the conversation back to the US. They reminded us that we are complicit in allowing Israeli occupation to continue through allowing human rights and international law violations to go unchecked and by providing defense support to Israel (which ultimately benefits US arms dealers). In addition, my American passport gave me privileged access through the land. It was emotionally draining to see over and over how the Israeli occupation limited Palestinian movement, economic ability and connection to land and to national identity. Although I can’t help but share this part of the equation with people in the States, I will also follow Pr. Haddad’s advice to speak of life and hope in Palestine.

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Discovery

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

Reflecting on my Alternative Pilgrimage

When I first applied to participate on the Alternative Pilgrimage last March, I honestly didn’t know much about the Israeli Palestinian conflict. I recognized a few terms because of what I had heard and seen in the media. I also knew this land was not only significant for Christians, but also Jews and Muslims.  From the world news I had watched and read it was hard to decipher why there was so much violence in this area. Was it a religious conflict? Political conflict? Why did every news story coming from a holy place for many involve so much violence?

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