May 2-3rd, 2012
An E-diplomacy initiative on behalf of the U.S State Department, TechCamp was held in Ramallah May 2nd-3rd, 2012.
The event was geared toward Palestinian women from across the West Bank. It’s three major goals were to: empowering women, gain knowledge in technology-fueled innovation and strengthening civil society.
During the two day camp, technology specialist provided information on the latest social media tools such as Facebook, Meetup, SMS, Mapping, Tumblr, Citizen Journalism and many others.
We explored ways to share real stories about real lives and real people through social media.
My personal observation: when you have lived the majority of your life in an oppressive state, your ability to dream gets lost. When these women were given the time and space to dream; when they were told “Your life matters”, even their physical appearance changed! Their eyes lit up, they sat straight up; they stood with dignity renewed.
[Holy Land Trust]
Christ at the Checkpoint Conference March 8th, 2012. Bethlehem, Palestine.
'I don't preach I just share stories' was Lynne Hybels humble introduction this evening to a packed crowd on the third evening of the Christ at the Checkpoint conference 2012. Hybels, who has been actively involved in women's ministry both in her home country of the US and overseas says that she loves the Middle East and has visited Palestine and Israel six times in the last three years. However, this evening the onus was firmly off the world-famous speaker and on a series of women who Hybels claimed were ' her heroes'. Women, both Israeli and Palestinian whose lives had been changed and shaped by the conflict were talked of by Hybels in the most reverent and humbling way. Stating that ' women are the greatest untapped resource in the world' she went on to usher in tomorrow's International Women's Day by commenting on how women were also the most unfairly treated, underrepresented and under-served group in the world also. However, regarding the current situation in Palestine Lynne's stance was clear in the stories which she used, and the words of others which she chose to share - most notably those of a Israeli Woman who's simple but poignant advice to Lynne was ' We have a voice and we must use it. Decent people shouldn't be afraid to raise their voices'.
Christ at the Checkpoint Conference March 5th-9th, 2012. Bethlehem, Palestine.
Towering at over six foot tall, with his dreadlocks and baggy trousers, American Shane Claiborne stands out amongst the hundreds of conference delegates at CATC this year, let alone the other speakers! Well known for his fervent pursuit of community and simple living, Claiborne delivered a hard-hitting and inspiring message to over 500 people on the second night of the conference. Speaking on the topic of ’ The barriers which divide’ he spoke of his time in the Middle East and Iraq, of the people he had met there and the friendships he had formed. Referring to the parable in Luke 16 of the rich man and Lazarus he highlighted how barriers in our society, both visible and invisible can divide us in terrible ways. ’ These walls’ said Claiborne ’ are for a world which has lost it’s imagination’ , as he called for the conference delegates to recognize that we have a God who is ’ really good at tearing down walls’. His message was simple, but honest and undoubtedly left a lasting impression on those who heard it. He spoke of war and hardship but most of all he spoke of love. Indeed, many of us who have traveled from across the globe to Bethlehem this week are compelled by the notion that, as Claiborne shared, ’for some strange reason God doesn’t want to change the world without us’ …
With twenty graduate nonlinear women leaders the Women Nonlinear program was launched in Mount David Hotel in Bethlehem. The program started with a workshop of four days from 7-10 February 2012. It was led by Paula Alter who is one of the nonlinear coaches from the UK.
The women came from different areas of the West Bank and Jerusalem with a great positive energy to start the program. The Training aimed to formulate and develop a team who will engage women in our communities in being leaders and change agents and to empower them in creating a new future for themselves, their communities and future generations. The focus of the training was to help the trainers acquire more skills and knowledge into empowering 540 women in their regions through the trainings and enrollment sessions that the twenty women will lead.
It four days brought cleared vision to the program dynamics and empowered the coaches to move into the following steps to move forward where they are expected to lead two trainings in their governorates where they empower and enroll 540 women into the vision of change.
They were left with a powerful quote from Sheri Zuccato that said “ leadership is nothing more than doing your own work , sharing your journey with each other , modeling a new way , walking together down a new path … daring to move within , sharing what you find with others… leadership is nothing more than going within and finding that part of you that knows what it is you need to do … and trusting what you find there”
Video about the Training:
News about the Training :
We recently visited three villages with Marwan from Holy Land Trust.
We started in Wadi Rahhal where we met the family Abu Ahu. Their house was
demolished in 2005 and that Holy Land Trust rebuilt the home with international help
in 2008. The wife, Abir Abu Ahu, told us that they were harassed by settlers
from Efrata almost every Saturday. The settlers came with dogs, on horses or
on fourwheels tractors just to frighten those living on the property.We also learned how the wall is going to affect them after another confiscating order of their land.
After that we went to Ath Thabra to visit the Hijasy family who lives under
poor conditions with a brain damaged boy whose special food costs the family a fortune.
For his sake we are contacting a german doctor, a neurologist, at Caritas
hospital to ask for eventual support. They no longer get financial support
from any NGO or international organization. For four years they received
60NIS/month from SOS but that has since stopped.
Finally we went to Wadi an Nis and talked a lot about football. A local team of
six brothers played and have won the Cup Final for Palestine.
But they also asked for preventive protection as the shepherds are
constantly harassed by settlers almost every day, especially during the
olive harvest. Marwan promised to keep EAs updated.
As many of you know, Sami Awad and The Holy Land Trust are working hard to expand our resources and outreach both locally and globally.
We’re transforming an old building in the heart of Bethlehem into a library and resource center. The center will focus on two areas: the history and contemporary community of Bethlehem and the generalstudy of peacemaking, nonviolence and conflict resolution. Books, digital media and specialized research materials will be available on both subjects. This will be the first center of its kind in Palestine. Researchers, international visitors, students and the general public will be able to access historical data on Bethlehem that merges theoretical and historical perspectives. They will also be be able to access materials on peacemaking in a region of conflict, where these materials have a direct, immediate, real world application.
With your help we can turn an empty building into a living, breathing center, available to both the local community and international researchers and guests. We can train local community members in the theory and practice of nonviolence, host a women’s circle, open up the center for film screenings, and create an open space for community dialogue.
We want Bethlehem to be known as a center of peacemaking, rather than a center of conflict and division. We know that you stand with us and that you share our hopes and dreams in this regard.
We are currently raising funds for books and equipment. We have the space! Now, with your help, we just need to bring it to life. You can find more details on the project page (We have two fundraising links-one for those living within Europe that would like to donate, and one for those living in the USA that would like to donate), along with a video from our Executive Director, Mr. Sami Awad:
http://www.crowdfundingfacilities.com/project/peace-research-center-prc-0 (for our EU partners)
(for our US partners)
We look forward to hearing your input and answering any questions you might have. Your continued support and encouragement mean the world to us.
From the Revd Jeremy Moodey
Sir, — No one could disagree with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s observation in the recent House of Lords debate that the position of Christians in the Middle East is becoming increasingly precarious (News, 16 December).
It was also gratifying to see Dr Williams highlight the plight of Palestinian Christians, whose precipitous decline in numbers since 1948 he linked to “the tragic situation in the West Bank”.
This important debate was long overdue, and Dr Williams should be applauded for initiating it. But it was troubling that in almost five hours of debate only two speakers — neither of them bishops — mentioned what has led in large measure to this “tragic situation”, namely the illegal Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and East Jerusalem since 1967.
Only the weekend before last, Israel approved the construction of another 1000 homes for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank near Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Every new settler home makes a peace deal harder to achieve, and it is this that is causing Palestinians of all faiths, not just Christians, to lose hope. And the settlers are becoming increasingly violent: a bus with carol-singers from the Bethlehem Bible College was recently attacked by settlers near Ramallah.
It is right that the Church should have regard to interfaith sensitivities when addressing the problems of the Middle East, but on this occasion its caution has led it to overlook one of the main reasons for Christian flight from the Holy Land.
There was a similar nervousness about addressing the real issues at the Lambeth Palace conference on Christians in the Holy Land last July. Our bishops need to do better, or they risk losing all credibility with their hard-pressed co-religionists in the Middle East.
Sami Awad's most recent Blog Post
This photo was taken by our good friend, Rev. Stephen Sizer at a Gaza Demonstration outside of the Israeli Embassy December 27th, 2011.
The Nonviolence Department in Holy Land Trust had three meetingson 12/13 and 12/14 with schools in Bethlehem who had attended the PeaceBuilding© workshops in 2009. The visits included the Dar al Kalimeh, Sira, and the De La Salle schools.
We proposed an expansion of the workshops by providing lessons on the Five Principles of peace building but extending these principles to the larger community of Bethlehem and the Middle East. We explained our goal was to target the same circles of beneficiaries: the students, the teachers, and the parents. We suggested that a major theme for our trainings would be conflict resolution, nonviolence, civil disobedience and peace building but under the tactic of “boycotting Israeli products”. Our plan derived from several brain storming sessions that were held in the nonviolence department.
The goal : To counter the tendency in Palestinian culture for children to internalize subtle messaging about their haplessness they have learned since they were children and alter it with empowering messages. Participating in a boycott of Israeli products sends a small message “ No “ back to the larger system of domination and makes a child feel like he or she can act.
Both DAR al Kalimeh and Dalasalle agreed to include our workshops in the next semester beginning 2012 for all category age groups selected from the school administration. They will send us their program later and dates when they want to begin. The Sira School asked for more specifics on learning objectives and methods for each lesson. We provided this information on 12/14.
Please note: that this program we will not affect or disturb the school daily teaching schedule, but will be part of it. Lessons will be integrated into the normal subjects including civil education, national education, business and economics, environment and health awareness sessions.