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Hopeful Encounters
Saturday 28th July 2018 @ 12:18 pm

There is no doubt when you spend time in Palestine it changes your perception of what governments will allow. The Israeli government has a hold on Palestine in a way that few other western styled liberal democratic government would get away with.

It’s a mystery how they do in fact get away with it.

 

Which is why it was vital when I was with a group 4 weeks ago to have them sit with my good friends Rabbis Gabby & Naama and educator Jonathan. Proud Jews and Israelis. They live in the everyday of what we glimpse over 10 days.

 Of all the useful and beautiful things that these friends expressed to our traveling group was the sense of ‘in many ways, this is not who we are, or what God calls this nation to be.’

 

Take Gabby – several years ago he almost lost his job in the synagogue because he got involved with the World Council of Churches EAPPI program (ecumenical accompanist observers in Palestine). He has trod the path of Shalom, and he bears the scars. Rabbi Naama recently took her young child to the Pride march in Haifa – when she asked her child why he wanted to go he said ‘it’s like when we stood up for the women.’ I love that I know children in Israel being taught that justice and equality issues are the same for every group seen by another as ‘less than.’ Jonathan emailed me yesterday and he is arranging to travel into the West Bank (again) to garner support and resource for the peace initiatives we work on together – he does not just speak a desire for peace he, like his Rabbis,  takes affirmative action where he can to help make peace a reality for everyone in his region.

 

The day after we met with Jonathan, Gabby and Naama – and a young student they had invited to speak with us also, one of our brilliant traveling team took me aside and simply said, ‘thank you for finishing with them – they gave me hope.’ This was especially important, because there were too many things we saw which had not given us much hope at all, in fact some encounters had drained hope from us.

 

Knowing people like Gabby and Naama and Jonathan exist in places like Israel is good for my heart. While they breathe, I know there will be a voice uttering ‘it doesn’t have to be this way.’

 

They are right – it doesn’t have to be this way.


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