By Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach
Secretary of State Kerry launched a new round of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, set to conclude in April 2014. But many challenges have emerged to the process, including continued announcements of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
At Mennonite Church USA’s convention in Phoenix in July, MCC U.S. Washington staff assisted with three workshops on Palestine and Israel. In addition, the Mennonite Palestine-Israel Network was launched. This is an exciting grassroots effort to bring together Mennonites with “a passion for peace with justice” in Palestine and Israel. To learn more about the network, visit mennopin.wordpress.com.
In the fall, the MCC U.S. Washington Office led an effort by six church organizations to bring attention to the Prawer Plan, an effort by the Israeli government to forcibly relocate Bedouin communities from the Negev in southern Israel.
Many of these church organizations have also joined together to launch “Third Thursdays for Palestine and Israel,” an effort to get grassroots supporters to contact Congress once a month. The effort grew out of conversations with numerous congressional staff who indicated a desire to work toward a more just U.S. policy toward Palestine and Israel, but who feel constrained by the lack of grassroots support for it. You can sign up to receive these (and other) alerts at washington.mcc.org.
In December MCC U.S. helped to bring about 50 Mennonites together at the “Impact: Holy Land” conference in Philadelphia. MCC U.S. is also working with Mennonite Church USA and related agencies to promote “Come and see” learning tours to Palestine and Israel. Perhaps in the next year you will have the opportunity to “come and see” yourself!