the friend online
19 January 2007

International Edition: Report from the Middle East
Despite many difficulties, I managed to spent some time with Friends (Quakers) in both Lebanon and Palestine, attend the Sabeel (The Way - Ecumenical Theology Liberation Centre) Conference on Christians in Palestine and work (pruning olive trees) at the Tent of Nations near Bethlehem.

All in all I must have gone through over 20 checkpoints, including the border crossings in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Israel.

The few Lebanese Quakers in Brummana high school are doing well, despite the set-back for having to cancell the YM because of the Israeli bombing. They are determined and look forward to hold that event next September, hoping many will attend from outside Lebanon. The Baz family expressed gratitude for the many solidarity messages received recently from all over the world and apologize for not responding individually to everyone.

The Ama'ry Children Play Scheme, the Friends International Centre and the Friends schools in Ramallah are busy and lively, but the present economic situation (largely due to international sanctions against Palestine) is having its negative effect, especially on the schools, as pupils' parents are unable to pay school fees because their salaries have been stopped or, worse, they are out of work.

The Sabeel conference was well attended, about 500 participants from nearly 30 different countries, plus some 50 speakers, moderators and introducers. The event started in Jerusalem as usual, but this time soon moved to different settings, including Bethlehem, Jericho, Ramallah and Nazareth areas, in order to expose participants to the present reality in Palestine-Israel and meet with many local communities.

There were some highlights, such as Qur'anic scholar Kenneth Cragg's Bible studies on three parables in light of their cultural context and their meaning today, the Bara'em El Funoun dance group and their message, reiterating their strong appeal to boycott and sanction Israel, hoping that these nonviolent actions would succeed as they did in connection with South Africa.

Throughout the conference there was a feeling that if the ultimate dream is an end to Israeli occupation for the establishment of a viable independent Palestine, present continuing repressive mesures, confiscation of Palestinian land to enlarge Israeli settlements, the segregation wall causing the fragmentation of the West Bank and creating unbearable economic hardship, are eroding the possibility of a two state solution to the conflict.

One of the strong points made by conference was the appeal to Palestinian Christians to remain in the land, joining hands with fellow Muslim believers, in order to strenghthen their prophetic voice for justice, peace and reconciliation.

The Tent of Nations project - People Building Bridges - is struggling, as it has for the past 15 years, to resist Israeli settlers attempts to take over the land, totalling over 100 hectars, (the Supreme court of Israel has still to give a final verdict!). Meantime Daoud Nassar and his family, with the support of many friends around the world keep busy to secure a continuous presence on the project, planting more and more trees, organizing many activities, including work-study camps, festivals, youth exchange visits, women training schemes, arts workshops, educational lectures. People usually volunteers for a few days or even months. The 2007 draft programme is now available ( /

Franco Perna


This week's .pdf
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International Edition: Multifaith and hope in the West Bank
Jane Garrett, Leeds MM & Jenny Bell, West Somerset MM
International Edition: a visit to the West Bank
Alan and Pauline York
International Edition: Promoting non-violence in the West Bank
Gerald Conyngham
International Edition: Report from the Middle East
Franco Perna
Countries of the Week: Israel & Palestine

Conciliation work in Nagaland
Sarah Alldred, Hardshaw East MM
News round-up
Green living may not be so simple – or is it?
Andrew Hughes Nind
Edward Hoare & Judy Kirby
Silence and patience
Susie Paskins
Why gay people should be welcome in churches
Stephen Cox
A portrait of George Fox
Simon Webb
John Hamilton: politician with a heart
Peter Smith

Things to do, where to stay, people to see etc...

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