Be Pro Palestinian, Pro Israeli, Pro Human, Pro Peace
This was the strong message from the webinar hosted by the Friends of the Bereaved families forum www.familiesforum.co.uk last week
This was the strong message from the webinar hosted by the Friends of the Bereaved families forum www.familiesforum.co.uk last week and to which there is now a link on our Website. The webinar was chaired by Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg who introduced Arab Aramin, a Palestinian, and Yigal Elhanan an Israeli Jew who each lost a sister because of the conflict. They are both members of the Parents circle-family forum that brings together bereaved family members from Palestinian and Israeli communities to share their stories and work together for Justice and Peace and prevent further death from vengeance and retaliation. They jointly are active in sharing this message and running educational events bringing together young people from both sides to overcome the segregation built into the society which leaves people fearful and ignorant of each others’ lives. They say they are part of a ‘club’ that no one wants to join. I feel everyone concerned about the region should hear their story as they speak with authority into the situation.
Some of you may already be aware of the forum and the friends group here as there were other Christian communities joining the webinar and lots of Quakers among them. I put myself on the mailing list after reading that Rabbi Lionel Blue had left a large legacy to their Youth wing and so received the link to the webinar. I found listening to Arab and Yigal so powerful that I have been sharing the link with others, including with PCN, as I feel it could facilitate discussion about a part of the world that has become difficult to speak about. Yigal and his father are quite clear that challenging Israeli policy that perpetuates an unequal society and occupation is not Anti-Semitic. They also talk about the power of hearing the stories of those who you had been led to believe were your enemy and from whom you had been kept apart. This of course reminded me of our madeofstories films and Patrick and Davy’s story. I have also since listened to the webinar recording between the fathers of Arab and Yigal and Colum McCann the Irish author based in America who has written a novel, Apeirogon, that weaves in their story of losing their daughters and their subsequent reconciliation work. I encourage you to listen to that too. Colum asks in that about their visit and observations in Northern Ireland and Yigal’s father Rami says ‘Protestants and Catholics you all look alike to me’ which makes this forum relevant in a wider way.
I do hope that other PCN members will find that the forum and the webinars and written stories will help them too in speaking about the conflict and seeking ways to help bring about Peace. This is a region that all Christians relate to but often have different perspectives on. Till Kingdom Come: Trump, Faith and Money is a documentary that aired recently on BBC4 which is still available. This explored the relationship between the beliefs among some Christians in the USA that all Jews must return to Israel before Jesus will return and their support of Israeli government policy and the expansion of settlements. The young American pastor listened to the plea from a Palestinian Christian Priest that this was a harmful policy but it didn’t change his heart or mind. Perhaps the stories on the forum might help us if we come across the same belief amongst Christians in the UK because they have the potential to make people think again.
Nicola Phelan Rugby Group convenor
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