Friday, October 1, 2010

Accompaniment in Umm Salamone

Faye Buttrick, ecumenical accompanier (EA) in Bethlehem, posted this report on her blog:

Accompaniment in Umm Salamone

A Palestinian woman carrying the four colored Palestinian flag and accompanied by two children walked down the street toward us. Behind her stood four army soldiers and their vehicles, situated to block the street against traffic. Behind us a crowd of about 50 demonstrators had gathered for their weekly protest. More soldiers and vehicles stood in front of them, barring the entrance to the main road, the protestors’ destination. They had come to call attention to the Israeli plan which will extend the separation barrier closer to the village of Umm Salamone and thereby cut the village off from their agricultural lands. The court in 1979 ruled in favor of the village but later the court overruled that decision for security reasons.

The demonstrators process every Friday from the nearby village of Al Ma’sara to Umm Salamone, bringing together people from the area, Israeli activists, and, on this day, internationals from Spain, France, Canada and other countries plus three Ecumenical Accompaniers. Flags of Palestine, France and Japan were raised above the crowd whenever a chant or speech was heard in that language. In particular the 65th anniversary of the bombing Hiroshima was lifted up. Our taxi driver Elias said that similar anniversaries from around the world are always included as a sign of solidarity.

The flag bearer was greeted by several women at the intersection of her street with ours. Passing in front of us, they walked with her to join the demonstration. Speeches against the occupation and call for freedom for the Palestinian people were repeated in several languages and accompanied by chants that reminded some of us of the antiwar slogans of the 60’s and 70’s. On this day the words were changed to fit a new situation where international law and human rights continue to be ignored.

Elias told us that he noticed an Israeli commander cautioning a soldier. This week only words were heard; no action by the soldiers was taken. We will continue to accompany the demonstrators, as previous EAs have done.

I work for EAPPI-US and Global Ministries of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) as an Ecumenical Accompanier serving on the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). The views contained herein are personal to me and do not necessarily reflect those of my sending organizations or the WCC. If you would like to publish the information contained here (including posting on a website), or distribute it further, please first contact US Coordinator Ann Hafften ( or the EAPPI Communications Officer ( for permission. Thank you.

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