Israel

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True connections

A Grade 3 class at Hagar Association made signs for International Tolerance Day to promote ethnic and religious tolerance in the region. Hagar is a bilingual MCC-supported school educating 330 Arab and Jewish children from age 1 to Grade 6 in Be’er Sheba, Israel. (Photo courtesy of the Hagar Association)

Tal Dayan, right, and Lev Zemer Gilboa-Oppenheim, left, attend Hagar Association, a bilingual MCC-supported school in Be’er-Sheva, Israel. (Photos courtesy of the Hagar Association)

Walk into Hagar Association, a school in Be’er-Sheva, Israel, and it looks like almost any other school. But if you listen closely, you’ll hear children speaking both Hebrew and Arabic, and see them playing together—uncommon sounds and sights in the region.

MC Canada working groups call for sanctions against Israel

Gaza, 2015. (Photo from Pixabay.com)

The following letter was drafted by representatives of the Mennonite Church Canada network of regional working groups on Palestine and Israel, and sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign affairs minister, on May 2, 2018. It is being published in Canadian Mennonite at the request of the working groups.

‘We have to begin by crying out for justice’

Naim Ateek speaks to an audience at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and his new book on Palestinian liberation theology. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Palestinian author Naim Ateek addresses a Winnipeg audience at one stop on his cross-Canada tour. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

“We have to begin by crying out for justice. You build peace on justice.”

Naim Ateek uttered this plea on April 25 2018, before more than 150 people gathered at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) in Winnipeg to hear him speak about his new book, A Palestinian Theology of Liberation: The Bible, Justice, and the Palestine-Israel Conflict.

A-ha moments in the Holy Land

MCC Canada board member David Chow grew up believing that the current state of Israel is a continuation of the biblical people of Israel, and that building up the state of Israel is a sign that Jesus is returning. Chow visited the West Bank with other members of MCC’s board in September and October of 2016. The learning tour shifted his perspective on the region and what the kingdom of God looks like. (MCC photo)

Daoud Nassar is a farmer living in the West Bank who is committed to nonviolence. Nassar lives at the Tent of Nations, a farm and educational centre near Bethlehem, where his family has lived for more than 100 years. The farm is surrounded by five Israeli settlements collectively called Gush Etzion. In 1991, the Israeli government declared the Nassar’s farm to be state land, and there were plans to expand the settlements onto the Nassars’ property. The family hired a lawyer and took the case to court. It is still unresolved. The family opened the Tent of Nations on their land in 2000, hosting international guests to work on their farm and to learn more about their life in Palestine. (MCC photo)

David Chow recalls sitting in Sunday school as a child and learning about what the nation of Israel meant for Christians in a traditional Christian Missionary Alliance congregation in Calgary, Alberta. 

Chow grew up believing that the current state of Israel is a continuation of the biblical people of Israel, and that building up the state of Israel is a sign that Jesus is returning.

‘Let no walls divide’

Seminar participants and Mennonite Central Committee staff gather in front of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. (Photo by Nadia García)

Students enjoy their time together at the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Ottawa Office seminar. Pictured from left to right: Ennet Bera, Cooper William, Marnie Klassen and Rizwan Shoukat. In the back: Esther Epp-Tiessen, MCC’s public engagement coordinator. (Photo by Nadia García)

Right before winter reading break, 30 university students from across Canada gathered in Ottawa to learn about the current conflict in Palestine and Israel at a seminar hosted by the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada Ottawa Office. From Feb. 15–17, students attending “Palestine and Israel: Let no walls divide” explored issues of advocacy, peace and justice.

Clarity and confusion in the Middle East

Hearing the stories of both Israelis and Palestinians was a highlight of the Middle East learning tour Seth Ratzlaff participated in two years ago. (Photo by Seth Ratzlaff)

Yella participants walk through Palestine during a 2012 learning tour. (Photo by Seth Ratzlaff)

Seth Ratzlaff

Seth Ratzlaff was part of a group of young adults who travelled to the Middle East in 2012 for a three-week Israeli-Palestinian learning tour. ‘I would love to go back,’ Ratzlaff writes. (Photo courtesy of Seth Ratzlaff)

It’s easy to get fed up with talking about things while studying in college or university; the desire to do something hands-on can be overwhelming. When my religious studies professor told me about a three-week learning tour of Israel and Palestine called Yella, organized, by Mennonite Central Committee Ontario and Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, I didn’t hesitate to sign up.

Called to Bethlehem

I have received a new call from Bethlehem Bible College (BBC) and Mennonite Church Canada to go to Palestine/Israel for nine weeks to teach Pastoral Care and Counseling in the biblical towns of Bethlehem and Nazareth. There are over 70 churches and 55,000 Arab Christians in Palestine. Unfortunately, few of the pastors have been trained in the practice of pastoral care. I will seek to respond to some of that need. 

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