News from the World Council of Churches' Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) - http://www.eappi.org/
The EAPPI is an initiative of the World Council of Churches under the Ecumenical Campaign to End the Illegal Occupation of Palestine: Support a Just Peace in the Middle East - http://www.wcc-coe.org/wcc/what/international/palestine/campaign-home.html
Its mission is to accompany Palestinians and Israelis in their non-violent actions and concerted advocacy efforts to end the occupation. Participants of the programme are monitoring and reporting violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, supporting acts of non-violent resistance alongside local Christian and Muslim Palestinians and Israeli peace activists, offering protection through non-violent presence, engaging in public policy advocacy and, in general, standing in solidarity with the churches and all those struggling against the occupation.
ELCA member Karin Brown is part of the current group of ecumenical accompaniers (EAs). Karin has been placed in Yanoun. She holds an undergraduate degree in International Politics and Anthropology from Juniata College in Pennsylvania. She has previously worked with various international development organizations in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
September 2007 Newsletter
Many families are struggling to celebrate Ramadan this year due to increased poverty. Particularly, the economic siege on Gaza has resulted in high prices and very low incomes. EAs (accompaniers) are experiencing more difficulties at checkpoints during Ramadan. When the Israeli authorities do not allow people topass, prayers are held at checkpoints. As one EA placed in Bethlehem commented: “On Friday it was sad to see so many elderly people with the simple desire to pray being denied this fundamental right. Many had traveled a long way and were extremely disappointed.”
Ramadan also enables EAs to participate in a unique experience, visiting families and sharing in the fast breaking iftaar meal.
September 21 Peace Day
An Ecumenical service by the Heads of Churches took place at the Syrian Catholic Church in Jerusalem on 20 September. Also, an ecumenical and Interrelations event was conducted by the National Christian Organizations at the YMCA in Beit Sahur. EAs from the Bethlehem team have been present and had the opportunity to express their gratitude to be able to share the life of the community members during the past 3 months.
Can non-violence succeed?
Despite their recent victory in the Israeli High Court, the villagers of Bil'in in the West Bank will continue their campaign against the Wall. The court's decision that the Wall should be moved 500 meters from its current route, when implemented, will restore 1,100 dunums to Bil’in’s villagers. Their campaign continues, with villagers wanting to resist the wall until it falls. The success of this campaign offers hope to othervillagers who are sustaining regular non-violent demonstrations against the wall. EAs attend such demonstrations every Friday in the Bethlehem area.
Al Walajeh update
The construction of the wall, plus subsequent land grabs by surrounding Jewish settlements, has decimated the Al Walajeh villagers’ land and livelihoods. Al Walajeh with 1,700 inhabitants now consists of just 4.5 km2 of land, or 22% of its original size. Land that was once fertile and green has disappeared beneath the concrete of three major Israeli settlements- Gilo, Har-Gilo and Giv’at Yael. The trees remaining are now under attack and a large area is already uprooted; a disaster for this peaceful place. Encircled by the wall, and controlled by an Israeli entry and exit terminal, the villagers of Al Walajeh will soon become virtual prisoners on their own land.
A new group of 25 new Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAs) arrived in late September and commences work in the placements after their orientation in early October.
A United Church of Canada (UCC) film crew was in the area visiting and interviewing UCC partners in action. Accompanied by Canadian EA Michael Séguin and the JIC (Jerusalem Inter Church Center) they successfully accomplished their goals between 18-30 September.
EAPPI has produced a newsletter in Arabic, which aims to inform and update our Palestinian partners of our advocacy efforts in Europe and the rest of the world.
For more information, please contact: Roslyn Harper, Communication & Advocacy Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org) or International Programme Coordinator (email@example.com)
The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) supports Palestinians and Israelis working for peace by monitoring and reporting violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, offering protection by accompanying local communities in daily activities, and by advocating with churches for a peaceful end to the Occupation. The programme, which began in 2002, is coordinated by the World Council of
Churches (WCC). The WCC is a fellowship of 347 churches, in more than 100 countries in all continents fromvirtually all Christian traditions. Its office is in Geneva, Switzerland.
For more information on the WCC: www.wcc-coe.org
See also International Church Action for Peace in Palestine and Israel - http://www.oikoumene.org/?id=3627
For more bulletins from Ann Hafften, see my blog: http://voicesforpeace.blogspot.com/