April 2020 Monthly Update

In This Issue
Easter Saturday in Jerusalem (Virtually)
Kairos Palestine Easter Alert 2020
COVID-19 in Palestine
Part 1 – The Hard Reality
Part 2 – Notes of Hope
Part 3 – Some Things You Can Do
The Israeli Election Mess
Stay Informed on Palestine
Jesus of the Scars: A Song and Prayer for Good Friday

Easter Saturday in Jerusalem (Virtually)

Celebrate Easter Saturday live, hearing from our Palestinian elders in Jerusalem, sharing lessons of liberation and spiritual survival in the midst of colonization and COVID-19. Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA) and Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theological Center will bring words of wisdom and hope desperately needed in these days. To register to participate in this special time of worship, click here.

MennoPIN wishes you a blessed Easter during very trying times!

 Kairos Palestine Easter Alert 2020

Kairos Palestine has issued its annual Easter Alert 2020 with compelling reflections from Palestinian Christian activists, theologians and leading clergy. Powerful essays and searching questions illuminate the meaning of the resurrection in a time of occupation and coronavirus. Easter Alert 2020 is available here.

COVID-19 in Palestine

Part 1 – The Hard Reality

A volunteer sprays sanitizing gel on the hands of a Palestinian man near the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem (Credit: AFP)

East Jerusalem
These times are extremely difficult, even for the fortunate ones…I think of the Palestinian prisoners, including hundreds of children, in overcrowded jails with no access to proper food, warmth, or anything resembling entertainment, save for the shouts of Israeli prison guards and military personnel. Many are held under, administrative detention without charge or trial.” – Mariam Barghouti

Bethlehem
Prior to the Corona virus the unemployment rate was a staggering 31%, and now it has skyrocketed. Fear, hopelessness, helplessness and despair, are overwhelming feelings of the mass of the population. People are worried…and fear about a bleak future. Many have lost their jobs, especially those previously employed in the tourism sector. Churches and mosques are closed.” – Zoughbi Zoughbi

Gaza
When the news of confirmed cases broke out, Gazans started taking precautionary measures to protect themselves and their family members from infection. However, with the lack of sufficient resources and equipment, Gazans had only one other way to cope with stress: cynicism and dark comedy. From Facebook posts to Twitter hashtags, Gazans reacted to the irony of being advised by the Palestinian Authority not to travel, whilst living under siege and prohibited from doing so for more than a decade. Others reacted with sarcasm to isolation notices to close down businesses and shops and go into confinement, wondering how they would provide for their children when there is little commercial activity in an ailing economy, even before the arrival of the virus in the first place.” – Omar Shaban

Part 2 – Notes of Hope

Two paramedics, working together to fight the coronavirus, pray outside of an ambulance, the Jewish man facing toward Jerusalem and the Palestinian Muslim toward Mecca (Credit: Magen David Adom)

Arab and Jewish Medics Work Together on the Frontline
At the Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv, both Arab and Jewish doctors and other medical staffers have worked side-by-side for years, bucking the tensions between their communities. Palestinian Israelis comprise about 20% of the population of Israel, but a slightly greater percentage are health care workers within the Jewish state.

During this time of coronavirus, the collaboration between the two is critical. Rafi Walden is Sheba’s Deputy Director Emeritus. Walden recently explained how crucial the Arab medical population is to Israel: “We work together with Arab medical staff everywhere and not just in the time of coronavirus. Without them, the Israeli medical system would collapse.”

Ventilator Prototype Created at al-Quds University
The Abu Dis campus of Al-Quds University, located in East Jerusalem, is committed to educating Palestinian youth as a basic human right that should be exercised by all those who wish to pursue a higher education. Research plays a strong role in academic pursuits.

A team of engineers and doctors at al-Quds has recently developed a ventilator prototype to help treat Palestinians with serious cases of COVID-19. Hopefully, the ventilators will be able to address the severe shortage of ventilators in the West Bank and Gaza where, respectively, only 256 and 87 ventilators are now in use.

Gaza Clothing Factory Makes Protective Suits
A Gaza factory that makes children’s clothing has been converted into a factory producing protective suits for essential workers inside the strip as well as for others throughout Palestine. Producing more than 400 suits each day, medical workers can now treat the coronavirus safely. Explained the 20-something-old factory owner, Alaa Qreiqua, “We are in an emergency. I hope this nightmare will end.”

Part 3 – Some Things You Can Do

At this point the most helpful way to help with COVID-19 in Palestine is by donating money through reputable organizations providing relief. Here are two excellent examples that MennoPIN affirms:

Middle East Children’s Alliance
Manhattan (KS) Mennonite Church has developed a Twinning Congregation relationship with the Youth Vision Society (YVS) in Gaza. After several months of building relationship, Manhattan is supporting the YVS Hand-to-Hand project to distribute hygiene kits with cleaning supplies to slow the spread of the coronavirus as well as food baskets to vulnerable families. You can send a tax-deductible donation to support Hand-to-Hand through the Middle East Children’s Society here.

Mennonite Central Committee (Gaza)
The Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) has partnered with Al-Najd in Gaza to provide food baskets, hygiene supplies, blankets and school kits for Gazan families. Your tax-deductible donation can be sent here.

The Israeli Election Mess

Benny Gantz and Benjamin Netanyahu (Composite: Frank Hulley-Jones)

The third Israeli election within one year produced similar results as the previous two – stalemate. This time, Benny Gantz’ Blue and White (moderate conservative) party was given the first right to form a new government and to oust Benjamin Netanyahu’s (ultra-conservative) Likud party. But surprisingly, appealing to the coronavirus pandemic, Gantz decided instead to attempt to form a unity government with Netanyahu, something many in his party considered a betrayal. Under the new government, Netanyahu would serve as Prime Minister for one-year and Gantz as Foreign Minister. The following year Gantz would become Prime Minister. In the negotiations between the two, compromise was made on two key issues: (1) joint decision-making on all issues and (2) the movement forward to annex much of the West Bank. But as Passover approached, the two parties backed away from what they had compromised on and agreed to renew negotiations after Passover.

Out of the third election, the Joint List party, consisting of a coalition of Arab Israeli groups, came in third place behind Blue and White and Likud, its strongest showing ever. Even so, the Joint List will have essentially no political power in the new Knesset, Israel’s legislative branch.

The true losers in every Israeli election are the people of Palestine because whatever new government forms (by Gantz, Netanyahu or a unity government) or, as is a real possibility, a fourth election occurs, the so-called Deal of the Century, engineered by the Trump and Netanyahu administrations, will be implemented with no international opposition to stop it. Stay tuned in for the ongoing saga.

Stay Informed on Palestine

MennoPIN keeps you informed about Palestine through our monthly update, special alerts, calls to action, important resources and tour possibilities, all from an Anabaptist perspective. But there are additional excellent organizations and web publications that can keep you informed, some on a daily basis. We invite you to explore these groups and visit the web publications as another way to keep current and active for the people of Palestine. Here are some MennoPIN recommends:

Organizations

Web Publications

Jesus of the Scars
A Song and a Prayer for Good Friday

Jesus of the Scars is a poem written by Edward Shillito at the end of World War I. Garth Hewitt is a singer, composer and Palestinian activist. Hewitt put this poem to music, and you can listen to it here.

If we have never sought, we seek you now
Your eyes burn through the dark our only stars
We must have sight of thorn-marks on your brow
We must have you, Jesus of the scars

The heavens frighten us, they are too calm
In all the universe we have no place
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?
Lord Jesus, by your scars we know your grace

O Jesus of the scars we seek you now
O Jesus of the scars we seek you now
We must have sight of the thorn-marks on your brow
We must have you, O Jesus of the scars

The other gods were strong, but you were weak
They rode, but you did stumble to a throne
But to our wounds only God’s wounds speak
And not a god has wounds but you alone.


Mennonite Palestine-Israel Network
mennopin@gmail.com | mennopin.org | facebook.com/mennopin | twitter.com/mennopinSteering Committee:
Anita Rediger (Emmaus Road Mennonite Fellowship, Berne, IN)
Bob Atchison (Manhattan Mennonite Church, Manhattan, KS)
Joe Roos (Peace Mennonite Fellowship, Claremont, CA)
Jonathan Kuttab (Palestinian lawyer and human rights activist, Washington, DC)
Jonathan Brenemann (Syracuse, NY)
Lydia Brenneman (Lima Mennonite Church, Lima, OH)
Rod Stafford (Portland Mennonite Church, Portland, OR)

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