Working for peace & justice through nonviolence since 1915.
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Peace in the Middle East.
Ever since I was a child, I remember hearing this phrase. In sixth grade, I took on an extra credit challenge to write a paper on the origins of conflict in the Middle East. In those pre-Internet days, I read what I could find at home and at the library, following trails that took me back hundreds of years. In the end, I felt I would surely not receive extra credit because I couldn’t figure it out. I wrote down some of the pieces and concluded, “It is complicated.”
To my surprise, I got the credit. The point of the exercise was to demonstrate how tangled the threads were, how fraught with complexity the achievement of peace is.
Now, more than three decades later, I write from a plane headed to Israel-Palestine.
FOR is co-sponsoring with Interfaith Peace-Builders a delegation to Israel-Palestine (delegates pictured below) to show solidarity with those who suffer and those who work for peace with justice, learn, and seed our advocacy upon return. Interfaith Peace-Builders, an independent organization based in Washington, D.C., started more than ten years ago as a program of FOR and now runs at least three delegations to Israel-Palestine each year.
Our decision to partner on this delegation, and to offer leadership to the Indigenous and People of Color delegation that traveled this past summer, came out of two primary desires:
• To mark the ten-year anniversary since Interfaith Peace-Builders became independent and celebrate their success as a scrappy, smart, grassroots organization that has grown in impact and respect.
• To further our commitment as a U.S.-based organization in taking responsibility for our part in the militarization of the region
For a just and lasting peace to be achieved in Israel-Palestine, we will need many efforts from ten thousand directions working toward the same goal.
Another is the documentary Disturbing the Peace by our friends at Reconsider films. Currently picking up numerous awards in film festivals and screenings across the globe, Disturbing the Peace features 2015 FOR Pfeffer International Peace Award winners Combatants for Peace.
As former Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters, Combatants for Peace remind us that the threads of this war are quite tangled and a true and lasting peace will require many approaches. When former combatants tell their stories, and they are listened to and heard, a new space for reconciliation is opened up.
I'd like to invite you to join us at the New York and California screenings:
To get details about these and all upcoming screenings, sign up on the Disturbing the Peace website.
Thank you for your tireless work to untangle the threads of conflict, your courage to speak truth to power, and your perseverance for peace.
I will carry you with me as I traverse the “holy land” in the next two weeks.
Grace and peace,
Rev. Kristin Stoneking
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Photos credits, from top: Women Wage Peace & March of Hope, Jacob Pace of IFPB, Roni Felsen, FOR, and Combatants for Peace.