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Middle east, 2013 Dec • Exploratory Peace Team

In December 2013, Joe Moore and Joe DiGarbo traveled to

Rare snow in the Old City of Jerusalem December 2013

Palestine/Israel as they explored a partnership with Friends Peace Teams in Asia West Pacific. Their work was hampered by extreme winter weather, the likes of which had not occurred in 50 years. The weather limited the number of participants, yet, they carried on. Although the AVP training content and methods are new to many there, the participants are able to understand and appreciate the Alternatives to Violence Project principles.

They had to cancel some meetings in Ramallah and Jerusalem, as well as Tel Aviv, because of the extreme weather, but have secured an invitation to train other organizations in the Old City and Tel Aviv and Ramallah for May 2014. The team already has an invitation to return to Hebron in the West Bank in 2014, but this needs to be confirmed.  

The team went to the Gaza Strip to conduct capacity building for those organizations trained in 2011 and 2012.  Gaza city had terrible flooding due to the torrential rains they experienced for 5 days. Joe DiGarbo reports it was difficult to witness the suffering.

The American Friends Service Committee assisted in the work there and obtained entry visas from the Israel government in Tel Aviv and Hamas in Gaza.  There is, now, a nascent coalition of organizations, which were represented at the workshops in 2011 and 2012. An organizational meeting has been set for January. Although work there has been difficult, we are encouraged by the responses we are getting, not only from the participants, but also from ordinary Palestinians we meet and inform about our work. 

When the team is in Ramallah, in May, they will have meetings to develop more partnerships, necessary to increase a long-term presence in the West Bank, in much the same way as they have done in the Gaza Strip. 

Young boys in Gaza City December 2013

The team coordinators see a need for facilitators to help bring AVP, as well a Friends presence, to this troubled region of the world. Although, it’s easy to get discouraged, we must carry our message to those who will benefit from AVP and all that Friends Peace Teams in Asia West Pacific can bring.

Contact asia@friendspeaceteams.org if you are interested in learning more about upcoming trips to the Middle East.