On Tuesday, June 10th, WH Meeting hosted an extremely informative and moving talk with slides, by Ali Morgan of Bath Meeting, recently returned from a gruelling 3-months stay in Bethlehem on the West Bank in Palestine. Ali was an official observer and recorder with the Quaker contingent of the Ecumenical Accompanier Programme in Palestine and Israel, a principled non-partisan international organisation to which churches in 20 countries have contributed since 2002. Their aim is to record and in many cases help deter abuses by Israeli military and settlers against the Palestinian civilians living in the illegally occupied territories and to morally support Palestinian victims—in the absence of an international peacekeeping force.
The event drew an audience of about 50, consisting of Quakers but also very many non-Quaker members of the North London community. Ali’s slides and commentary illustrated how the Palestinians were harassed and circumscribed on a daily basis, both by general policies in the West Bank (a family not permitted to repair its leaking roof!), and by acts such as throwing tear gas canisters at children and teachers during the ‘school run’, (illegally) arresting and jailing children in Israeli prisons, cutting down masses of olive trees as ‘rebuttal’ for a peaceful protest, and many other examples.
EAPPI is not anti-Israel, but is concerned to support those who are currently oppressed. Ali emphasised that there were many Jewish organisations in Israel and Britain also striving to end the occupation and its abuses, and also pointed out the negative effects of these policies on the psyches of the young Israeli men and women conscripted for the military. Her main message was that the illegal occupation must be ended and that we must work for a just peace, and she suggested ways that we, the audience, could help: by keeping informed, visiting the West Bank, writing to our MEPs, and supporting EAPPI. During refreshments, many donated to the latter, bringing in close to £200 pounds for this dedicated organisation which runs totally on voluntary contributions.
(Please see previous posts for information about EAPPI)