Monday, April 22, 2024
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Three prayers for peace

Act for Peace is the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches Australia. Its focus is on assisting the most conflict- and disaster-affected communities to be safe.

Act for Peace reports: “We have witnessed unfathomable death and destruction in the Gaza Strip and Israel. Thousands of people have been killed, injured and displaced, nearly 200 remain held hostage, including children and the elderly.

“In Gaza, the UN has said that water, food, fuel, medical supplies and even body bags are running out due to the siege.The UN warns that people – particularly young children – will soon start dying of severe dehydration. Neighbourhoods have been destroyed and turned into complete rubble.”

Please give urgently today.

Founded in 2014, Roots is a Palestinian and Israeli initiative for understanding, nonviolence and transformation.

The Palestinians and Israelis involved in this initiative do not hide the many deep disagreements between them. On the contrary, they are deeply aware of the complexities of the conflict and of the lack of equality between the two sides. What unites them is their honest search for human understanding and nonviolent resolution to the conflict.

Roots members, including Ali Abu A’wad and Rabbi Hanan Schleisinger, are from different worlds though they live in the same land. They discuss coming to know themselves through a process of transformation born of their willingness to see each other as human beings who belong to the land. They speak of their respect for each other, their love for their people, and their shared commitment to working for peace and justice. They are working together because the future being imagined for them is not the future they want. Together, they articulate a powerful vision of the future they do want: freedom, security, mutual flourishing for both Israelis and Palestinians.

Currently finishing his book, Painful Hope, Ali Abu A’wad is a leading Palestinian activist teaching nonviolent resistance, and reaching out to Jewish Israelis at the heart of the conflict. Ali has toured the world many times over, telling his riveting story of violent activism, imprisonment, bereavement and discovery of the path of non-violent resistance, a story of personal transformation.

Hanan Schlesinger is an Orthodox rabbi and teacher, and a passionate Zionist settler who has been profoundly transformed by his friendship with Ali. His understanding of the reality of the Middle East conflict and of Zionism has been utterly complicated by the parallel universe that Ali has introduced him to.

Rebecca J. Alvarez, a queer mixed-race trauma therapist and a member of Jewish Voice for Peace (New York), says: “To be clear, I don’t condone the taking of innocent life. Regardless of what many people believed Zionism was, the ultimate impact of this ideology has been oppression and conflict. The Israeli government may have just declared war on Hamas, but its war on Palestinians started over 75 years ago. Israeli apartheid and occupation – and international complicity in that oppression – are the source of this violence.

“For the past year, the most racist, fundamentalist, far-right government in Israeli history has ruthlessly escalated its military occupation over Palestinians in the name of Jewish supremacy, with violent expulsions and home demolitions, mass killings, military raids on refugee camps, unrelenting siege, and daily humiliation.

“I teach my clients about trauma-informed care, which includes coming out of my own freeze state and into thoughtful responses to human suffering. It includes separating out the false binary of a victim/perpetrator narrative and instead seeking ways to empower choice, voice and freedom.”

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