Voices from the Holy Land
In 2016, the United Reformed Church agreed to further its work in connection with Israel/Palestine, promoting awareness, prayer and solidarity. As part of this commitment, a team of 22 URC representatives went on a ten-day educational visit to Israel and Palestine in September 2019. In this series, Charissa King shares stories from some of the people they met
Nidal Abu Zuluf
Joint Advocacy Initiative
We invite you here, to come and see, to go, to tell and to act. It is not enough for you to tell, and not enough for you to pray. We need actions. Prophetic actions.
I founded the Palestinian youth ecumenical movement, to give the youths the opportunity to be engaged in ending the oppression of the Palestinian people. People moved by beautiful, Christian, human values fill us with hope that the situation will get better. This hope comes from our faith, because if you look to politics, there is no hope. The Israeli government is moving to the far right. There is forced disconnection – Israelis are not allowed to come to the Palestinian Territories by military order, so they don’t meet Palestinians. The world community is very silent.
We try to give hope to our people, but it’s not an easy job. At least 70% of young people plan to emigrate. They don’t have jobs. They don’t feel safe. It’s politically unstable. So they look for another ‘holy land’. Palestinian Christians now make up less than 1% of the population. …
Dheisheh refugee camp, south of Bethlehem
In 1948, when the Israelis attacked us, we left our villages. More than 750,000 Palestinians had to leave their homes. I come from a village called Bayt Jibrin, where my family goes back more than 400 years as farmers. They lived in peace, but in that year, more than 550 villages were attacked by the Israeli groups. They killed most of the people.
When my family heard about what happened in the other villages, they were afraid, and decided, when the Israelis came, to leave for two weeks, to a close place. We’ve been here for 71 years. They thought they’d come back. They left everything. People flipped from being rich families with farms, horses, space – to in one night having to start from below zero.
In 1949, the United Nations Relief and Work Agency was started for Palestinian refugees. They built units for us – about three by six metres for 15 people, all sharing one bathroom and one water source. My grandma used to go to the other village, half an hour away, to get water. It was a very miserable situation. …
These are extracts from an article that was published in the December 2019/January 2020 edition of Reform