Thursday, July 23, 2009

Update: The Second Day of the Sabeel International Young Adult Conference and a Message from a Participant!

The second full day of the Sabeel International Young Adult Conference began with a briefing regarding access and movement in the West Bank and Gaza by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). There are over 602 checkpoints and barriers restricting the movement of Palestinians in the West Bank.

After the briefing, the participants visited Ein Kerem, the home village of John the Baptist, at which a Bible study was led by Father Rafiq Khoury illustrating the relevance of John the Baptist’s life to Palestinian Christians’ lives today.

Next the participants took part in a Sabeel tradition, walking the Contemporary Way of the Cross, with Sabeel staff member Nora Carmi. The Contemporary Way of the Cross draws a parallel between the suffering of Christ and the suffering of the Palestinians living under restrictive Israeli measures. The first station was the site of a Palestinian village depopulated during the Nakba (1948). 480 Palestinian towns and villages were depopulated in 1948 and resulted in the dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.

The following stations consisted of examples of the Israeli occupation in the West Bank: a checkpoint, settlements, and the Separation Wall. The last station was the tent of a woman, Um Kamel, who was pushed out of her home by Jewish settlers with the aid of Israeli soldiers in East Jerusalem. She was a refugee of 1948 and was made homeless again in November 2008. UNRWA had bought the land for her house to be built in 1956 from Jordan before the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem. Yet, the Israeli authorities somehow still found reason to throw her out of her home claiming legal authority.

Watch Um Kamel tell her story:

A Message from Hannah Carter:

Hi everyone,

Thanks for following us on the blog! It is just the end of the second full day here and it feels like we’ve been here for weeks. We have seen so much already, and heard so many stories…to summarize it all when I get back will be difficult. We began the week with a worship service in the Garden of Gethsemane and then walked the Stations of the Cross here in Jerusalem. Today we met with the UN, took our first trip into the West Bank, met with a refugee family and also visited the town where John the Baptist was born.

Needless to say it’s been an incredible experience so far and I can’t wait for the rest of it.

- Hannah

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Joelle said...

I'm so glad to be able to follow your time experiencing life under occupation in Palestine, enjoying the hospitality of Palestinians, and witnessing the struggle of Palestinian Christians. I hope it's an experience that stays with all the participants, as my time in Palestine did, and that you take it home to share with family and friends.
Joelle Morabito
Fishkill, New York

Young Friends of Sabeel said...

Thank you for following the blog, Joelle. I hope its helpful in giving you updates about the situation here!

C&M said...

We were in Jerusalem Last month and were able to visit Umm Kamel. her perspnal serenity is astounding - she is such an impressive person.

Praying for you all during these wonderful days that you will always remember

Catherine & Mary