Two years ago, I graduated from Mount Holyoke College and took Mary Lyon’s famous words to heart, “Go where no one will go. Do what no one else will do.” With thousands of dollars of college debt, I moved back to Israel and then to the occupied Palestinian Territories on a journey to know every face of the Jewish State. I became a border crosser, one of the very few Jewish-Israelis who dared to live in Palestinian villages from Hebron to Nablus — and on the way I met many partners for peace.
One of these partners happens to be my former classmate, Anas Maloul, a Palestinian politics student from Hampshire College who left his job in the United States and returned to Palestine to support his home in their struggle for freedom. In the heat of the summer, sitting in a dusty, neglected Nablus park, we spoke of the new non-violent movement which has engulfed Palestinians and their Israeli and international supporters–from Sheik Jarrah to Budrus, Bi’lin, Nilin, Nabi Saleh and more—something new is happening in Palestine.
Realizing that our destiny is inextricably linked, we dreamt of making a difference, of having the opportunity to apply all our years of study to the ground and to struggle together for Palestinian freedom and Israeli security. Our dream was contagious and shortly after, one of Palestine’s non-violent leaders invited us to join Al Tariq, a grassroots Palestinian organization working for development, democracy and non-violence.
Over the past year I worked tirelessly to take our dreams from the sky to the ground. I’ve documented the unarmed struggle against the occupation in the tiny village of Nabi Saleh, organized a Peace Day in the village, secured seedling funding for a sewing machine cooperative for Palestinian widows and brought hundreds of internationals and journalists to see the situation in Palestine first hand. In Al Tariq’s tiny office outside of Ramallah, Anas and I have developed several new projects which we believe address the most critical issues facing Palestine today. From non-violence summer camps for children, to service scholarship programs for young ambitious Palestinians — we have a dream.
We’ve come to realize that freedom and equality in Palestine won’t be achieved without American’s support. We need your help every step of the way. Freedom for Palestinians and true security for Israel will not come from politicians sitting in five-star hotels–it’s going to take people power, on the ground in Palestine, Israel, America and nations across the world. Its going to take courageous acts of support–non-violent demonstration, unarmed resistance, boycott, divestment and sanctions, speaking with supporters and skeptics, being compassionate and being unyielding. But in the end, we’re going to make — there’s no other way.
Now, we’re trying to take our message of freedom, justice and non-violence to “every hill and mountaintop” and get from Jerusalem to JStreet to attend JStreet’s historic second national conference, lobby with the Interfaith Peace Builders in Washington D.C. and to encourage churches, congregations, college students and courageous supporters across America to join us. Throughout the trip, I’ll be live blogging and sharing our message with as many people as possible.
Join our struggle — contribute to the financial costs of the journey to the USA, organize a fundraising event in your community or donate to our work being done on the ground. You can donate an amount of your choice here or support one of the projects listed below.
Help us get to the place, where we too can say, “Free at last, free at last! Thank God Almighty we’re free at last.”
Projects on the Ground in Palestine
We are starting sewing and embroidery cooperatives in Nabi Saleh and Dahashe refugee camp to serve the most vulnerable women in Palestine — women who are widows or their husbands are in prison, sick or unemployed for more than six months. Since there is no social welfare in Palestine, 73% of widows and their families live in deep poverty, more than 50% below the poverty line.
Each sewing machine costs $1000 and can provide $7000 of income to a woman in a year. For uneducated Palestinian women, who have nearly no opportunities to work, this is an incredible opportunity to strengthen them and their families.
Already, individuals in the UK are organizing to fundraise for one sewing machine for Nabi Saleh. Get on board and change the future of Palestine one woman at a time.
Our Young Leaders project gives Palestinian and Israelis young leaders the opportunity to meet the “other” for the first time and learn how to engage in meaningful dialogue. After the first encounter, our young leaders continue on to participate in a range of national and bi-national activities which further education about the two societies and promote non-violent conflict resolution.
$500 will enable us to invite another young Palestinian or Israeli to join our group and become an active member of Al Tariq. They will write you letters throughout the year about their experience and how meeting the other and developing relationships with them has changed their perspective of themselves and their future. You’ll also be able to keep up to date with national and bi-national meetings through our news feed, which we update regularly.
Today in Palestine, education is mostly based on memorization and there is nearly no funding for the arts. However we believe that arts — and particularly writing — is one of the most important ways that young people can deal with their trauma and learn to communicate.
A gift of $250 will provide an emerging Palestinian writer the opportunity to participate in a creative writing session. At the end of the year, we’ll be publishing a book of the young writer’s works and will share them with you.
Our programs for the children, who make up almost half of the Palestinian population, focus on enabling them to deal with the trauma and developmental problems that they have due to the conflict, through non-violent means. Since 2006 we have organized 2-week summer camps for children during their summer vacations. These camps are attended by large number of children from villages and cities alike.
A gift of $100 will enable a child to participate in summer camp and learn about non-violence. For most Palestinian children and their parents, this is the first time that they have ever participated in a summer camp. Give the gift of non-violent education to the future of Palestine.