….and encourages all Methodists to find out more about its work. Stephen Leah, who proposed the Notice of Motion at the Conference supporting ICAHD’s work, then put on his running shoes to run the inaugural York 10K to raise funds for ICAHD. Stephen reports below.
One of the most effective ways in which we can all help the Palestinian people is to use every opportunity we can, and even create opportunities, to raise awareness of their plight. In the space of just one month, I have been privileged to be part of 2 such endeavours.
The first occurred at the Methodist Conference, which this year, in early July, was held in Wolverhampton. Conference weekend is always a great event, as members of the Conference such as myself, meet for worship and celebrate the ordinations of our new ministers. However, for 3 _ days afterwards, it is down to business as we discuss how the Church can be made more effective both at home and abroad.
In the past few years, the Methodist Conference has been consistent in its opposition to the Occupation and its concern for the Palestinian people. In 2006, it voted for an ethical investment policy regarding companies that profit from the Occupation, and last year, it called on Methodists from across the UK to write to their MPs and MEPs to oppose the siege of Gaza.
This year, the anger of the Conference at Israelas attack on Gaza was palpable. But many of us felt we should channel our anger into support for those in Israel who are seeking to support the Palestinians. So it was that on 8th July, I proposed a Notice of Motion supporting the work of ICAHD. In my speech to Conference, I spoke of those Israelis who risk their lives for the sake of the Palestinians. I spoke of how the home of Salim and Arabiya Shawrameh in Anata, was demolished 4 times by the Israeli Occupation, one of perhaps 24,000 Palestinian homes to be demolished since 1967. I also spoke of the work of ICAHD and Jeff Halper in opposing this inhumanity. _Nelson Mandela_, I said, _once spoke of the bravery of whites such as Joe Slovo in opposing the apartheid policies of their own government, and so it is with Israelis such as Jeff Halper and ICAHD_.
I was pleased that 3 other Conference members, all Methodist ministers, stood up to similarly praise ICAHD. The Notice of Motion, commending the work of ICAHD and encouraging Methodists to find out more about its _practical and prophetic work_ was passed unanimously.
I was pleased as well that several members of the Conference responded to an appeal I made in its daily newssheet, asking for people to sponsor me in the inaugural York 10K run on 2nd August. A total of 5000 people took part in this run, many running for a variety of different good causes. My good cause, however, was ICAHD UK! I collected sponsors from a variety of friends and acquaintances, explaining as I did so, the work of ICAHD and why it is worth their support. To those who showed particular interest, I had a ready stock of ICAHD leaflets! It was particularly valuable to have been able to visit Palestine with ICAHD, to see some of their practical work, such as the Peace Centre at Anata and to have benefitted from ICAHDas expert analysis of the situation.
The day of the run dawned bright. It was a nervous time, as I had never taken part in such an event before. Nevertheless, I was relieved to get round in one piece, in an official time of 1 hour, 5 mins and 4 seconds! If I ever do a run such as this again, I hope to be able to do more training to improve on this time!