– As partners of the Kairos Britain initiative, we wanted to highlight this years’ World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel (18th – 24th September 2016) by encouraging our members in the Christian faith communities to share their experiences with you. Stephen reflects on how the work of ICAHD has informed the Methodist support for Palestine…
One of the most impressive things about the work of ICAHD has been the detailed, on the ground analysis they provide on the Occupation and its effects on the Palestinian people. Another has been the political activism that this analysis informs, especially with regards to opposing the inhumane house demolitions. I well remember my own visit to Palestine with ICAHD back in 2007, and the vital educational value of experiencing the checkpoints, seeing the Wall, seeing the contrast between the lives led by the Occupied and the Occupier and receiving talks from leaders of civil society. Through sharing in a meal in the home of Salim and Arabiya, one that had already been demolished 4 times and was destined to be demolished again two more times, I was helped to appreciate the constant fear that so many Palestinians live under.
Such is the focus and professionalism of the work of ICAHD, that it has been able to gain influence beyond what it’s size would suggest is possible. It is thus well deserving of support, encouragement and publicity from other much larger organisations, especially the Methodist Church of which I am a part.
One of the earliest ways in which the Church gave it’s formal support was when in 2009, I proposed and the Methodist Conference overwhelmingly accepted, a supportive Notice of Motion. It noted: “the many Israelis who work for peace and justice at considerable personal cost especially Jeff Halper, a Jewish American, nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.” It continued, saying it:
“(ii) commends the work of ICAHD who work to prevent the illegal demolition of Palestinian homes by Israel and help in rebuilding homes destroyed by Israeli forces; and (iii) encourages Methodists to find out about the practical and prophetic work of ICAHD working for a just and sustainable peace for both Israelis and Palestinians.”
During the course of the Methodist Conference debate BDS in 2014, the Conference further voted to encourage Methodists to work with different agencies involved in Palestine and Israel, with ICAHD UK, as well as organisations like Kairos Britain and EAPPI being included on that list. This came in addition to the Conference’s restatement of its call for Methodists to boycott of goods from the illegal settlements.
But the local Church work outside of our Governing body, the Conference, is just as vital. So, as others also do, I seek to both deliver and organise talks on Palestine in our Churches. One notable occasion was a day Conference I organised for the York and Hull District of Methodist Church in 2009, where the keynote speaker was Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, who was then one of the ICAHD Advocacy Officers. One attendee said that Angela’s talk was the best one she had ever attended! Last year too, I was pleased to welcome Jeff Halper to my own Methodist Church to speak on his latest book, “War Against the People”.
And then there are my own talks such as the Palestine weekend I led at a local Church last year. In many of these talks, it is ICAHD’s detailed on the ground evidence of the effects of Occupation that I am able to use and credit in describing the current situation. The personal situations faced by victims of house demolitions, reported by ICAHD, are some of the case studies that move audiences the most.
It is always good to see the high esteem for which ICAHD is held within the Methodist Church. Its work is of such importance, that it deserves all the recognition it can receive.
Written by Stephen Leah, Methodist Local Preacher.
– Please sign the petition here to stop the illegal demolition of Palestinian homes and property.