The Middle East Peace Committee (MEPC) at Kehilla Community Synagogue, is pleased to announce a new collaboration with the Center for Jewish Nonviolence. Let me tell you about this creative and exciting organization.
The CJNV’s mission is to bring diaspora Jews to Israel/Palestine to “engage in creative nonviolent activism in the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel with the aim of bringing an end to the occupation.” The hope is for a “future that honors the full equality and shared humanity of Palestinians and Israelis.” (quotes from the website: centerforjewishnonviolence.org)
In February 2015 I traveled to Israel/Palestine for the first time and went on the first trip organized by the CJNV. We planted trees on a Palestinian farm outside Bethlehem and meet with leaders in the nonviolent movement in Israel and Palestine. This trip really deepened my connection to I/P in ways I hadn’t imagined and I learned and experienced so much that was positive as well as heartbreaking. Being there and putting my hands in the earth helped me especially with my heartbroken feelings.
In the fall of 2017, the CJNV organized a second trip to Israel/Palestine. Members attended the World Zionist Congress to bring some consciousness about the occupation to this meeting as well as visiting and working in the South Hebron Hills.
This past July, the CJNV sponsored a large trip of over 40 mostly young people to I/P for 10 days of well planned actions on the theme of “Occupation is not my Judaism.” Actions included:
Return to Susya; accompanying a large group of former residents to their former homes in what was turned into an archeological park. The elderly Palestinian residents of Susya told their younger generations and the activists from the Center for Jewish Nonviolence about life in the village before the Israeli army evicted them in order to turn it into a park.
Planting the spice, zatar, on land to show the land is being used and to prevent seizure by the Israelis.
Cinema Hebron: An abandoned Palestinian owned factory was occupied by the CJNV, Israeli activists, and the Palestinian organization Youth Against Settlements in order to build a cinema, Cinema Hebron. People began to clean up the property until they were stopped by the Israeli Army who eventually declared it a closed military zone and told people to vacate. People resisted and 5 Israeli activists were arrested, but the rest of the resisting group was not.
Kids: A clean up, and then throwing a block party in East Jerusalem for some Palestinian children.
Check out the website, www.centerforjewishnonviolence.org Under “media” is a long list of the articles generated by members of this trip. Or check out their Facebook page. Peter Beinert and Rabbi Brant Rosen, among others, were both on this last trip and have written about their experiences. Also,, the founder of the CJNV, Ilana Sumka, has a wonderful article in The Nation, on July 17, 2016, “Diaspora Jews Are Joining Palestinians in Nonviolent Resistance to the Occupation: There is a power in using our privilege as American Jews to stand for peace and justice.”
The MEPC wants to support the CJNV’s mission, and through fundraising, we believe we can, as well as helping to send people from Kehilla on CJNV trips. This coming summer will be an important time for Jews to travel to Israel, as June 2017 will mark 50 years of occupation, and many actions will be planned.
There were several people from the Bay Area on the trip this July, so come hear more at the report back from them on Sunday, November 6, 3:30pm at Kehilla (see p. 4 for details). The MEPC is also planning other fundraisers, and will probably show some films. Stay tuned, and if you’d like to join us, the MEPC meets on the first Tuesday of the month in the Fireside Room.