On Friday, the young adults listened to a lecture by Jamal Khader on Kairos Palestine. After the lecture, we crossed the Bethlehem checkpoint into Jerusalem (singing along the way) and talked to a representative from Machsom Watch, an organization that observes and tries to facilitate movement across checkpoints. In Jerusalem, we stood vigil with the Women in Black against the occupation. Then, after lunch, we saw the beautiful depopulated village of Lifta and heard of the lobbying efforts to save it from being destroyed. Then, we went to visit the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, where we learned about the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian solidarity struggle, heard Rabbi Arik Ascherman discuss the work he does with Rabbis for Human Rights, and heard one family’s story of how they were forced out of their house while standing right in front of the house that was once theirs, now occupied by Jewish settlers and a full-time military presence for security.
On Saturday, the young adults visited Hebron and the South Hebron Hills. We visited the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee and toured Hebron with them, appreciating the beauty of the Old City even more with an understanding of the process of its rehabilitation. After a walk along Shuhada Street (the central street in Hebron, closed to Palestinians), we ate lunch with several local families whose homes are threatened by neighboring settlers. Afterwards we headed to At-Twani, a village located near two settlements, and talked to the local community and the Christian Peacemaker Team stationed there about their nonviolent struggle to live and work in security. We ended the day flying kites with the children of the village.
On Sunday, we went to worship in local church communities in Bethlehem. Following church, we spent the afternoon having lunch and visiting with local families. Later on we had a tour of the Church of the Nativity with one of the men who stayed there during the long seige of 248 people in the church in 2002. Mazin Qumsiyeh, a local activist, then gave a lecture about the history of popular resistance in Palestine since 1880. We ended the night with good Palestinian food and hookah at a restaurant in Beit Sahour.