Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Israeli occupation grinds on, but Palestinians find unity

Abbas swears in Palestinian unity government
President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday swore in a Palestinian unity government, taking a major step toward ending a crippling territorial and political split among the Palestinians but also setting the stage for new friction with Israel.

The brief ceremony at Abbas’ West Bank headquarters was preceded by last-minute haggling over the makeup of the 17-member Cabinet of technocrats, signaling the continued tensions between the long-time rivals.  Read the full article here.

ELCA Peace Not Walls blog: “Peace Process” or not, Israeli Occupation Grinds On
During the past two weeks, two events have caught the attention of the international community: the shooting deaths of two teenage protesters in Beitunia and the destruction of thousands of fruit trees on a farm south of Bethlehem.

The Nasser family has endured years of harassment by Israeli authorities and set up a retreat center known as Tent of Nations. For Christians affiliated with Lutheran churches throughout the world, these two incidents were heaped on top of the financial crisis facing Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH), an institution of the Lutheran World Federation on the Mt. of Olives providing Palestinians with regular cancer and dialysis care. Read the full blog post here.

Dancing in Bethlehem
For many young girls, ballet class is just another in a long list of after-school activities. But for girls in the West Bank, learning ballet isn’t just about learning to dance.

Sarah Bolick had studied dance as an undergraduate before signing on as an ELCA young adult volunteer in the Holy Land.

Supported in part by the gifts of members and congregations to ELCA Vision for Mission, Sarah’s work included helping teach English to students in kindergarten through eighth grade at Dar Al-Kalima School in Bethlehem, one of four Lutheran schools run by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. While she loved interacting with the kids at the school, Sarah was also excited to be able to put her skills to use teaching dance in an after-school program -- something that is pretty rare in Palestine. See more at Living Lutheran.

"Before Their Diaspora"
Throughout the centuries of Arab and Muslim rule in Palestine, Jews had free access to the Wailing Wall. Access became an issue only after the 1948 War and the resultant Palestinian diaspora. "Jewish women praying at the Wailing Wall, Jerusalem" and other photos appear in Before Their Diaspora, A photographic history of the Palestinians, 1876-1948, by Walid Khalidi. See more photographs from Before Their Diaspora.

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