(Jan. 11, 2007) — A Middle East Peacemaking Delegation co-sponsored by On Earth Peace and Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) arrived in Israel/Palestine today, Jan. 11. The delegation’s trip begins in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and then travels to Hebron and the village of At-Tuwani, to join in CPT’s ongoing work of violence-deterrence, accompaniment, and documentation. The 12-member delegation includes participants from the US, Canada, Ghana, and Northern Ireland, including several with Church of the Brethren connections.
Delegation leader Rick Polhamus of Pleasant Hill (Ohio) Church of the Brethren, wrote this week from Hebron, “Today I returned to Jerusalem from the city where Abraham lived and was buried, Hebron. It is always a humbling feeling to think of the long history of these places I have often walked as a member of Christian Peacemaker Teams.”
“I am looking forward to showing the delegation some of the realities of the situation here that is very rarely shown in the media,” Polhamus continued. “Realities like groups of Palestinians and Israelis working together to end the conflict. Realities of Jews, Muslims, and Christians finding the common ground of their faiths to reach across the political divides with love. In an area of the world that most people only see through the violence shown on TV, the delegation will be able to look into the faces of people and hear the stories of those people who see alternatives to that violence.”
“As the ‘Roadmap for Peace’ seems further away from implementation, delegates will witness the reality of day-to-day life in the West Bank,” reported On Earth Peace. The group plans to meet with members of the Israeli military, Israeli settlers, Palestinian families, and human rights and peace workers from both Israel and Palestine; join in a public witness that nonviolently confronts injustice and violence; tour the ‘security wall’ separating Israel from the West Bank; and visit Palestinian families whose homes and livelihoods are threatened by expanding Israeli settlements.
Track the delegation’s daily activities by visiting the blog http://hebrondelegation.blogspot.com/, where Polhamus and Krista Dutt of First Church of the Brethren in Chicago, Ill., have already been actively posting. Polhamus writes, “This blog will provide a place for people to hear about the experiences of these delegates. It is also a place where I hope the church can be reminded that it is in the power of Jesus’ teachings of love that real resolution to conflict can happen, not in the killing and devastation of war and retaliation.”
The delegation will conclude on Jan. 22. For more information about the Middle East Peacemaking initiative on On Earth Peace go to www.brethren.org/oepa/programs/special/middle-east-peacemaking/index.html.