Spurred by the immediate crisis between Israel and Palestine, especially the destruction visited upon civilians in Gaza as a result, seven members of the Palestine-Israel Working Group of Nevada County met last week with Congressman Doug LaMalfa’s district representative, Jennifer Horne, at Nevada County’s Rood Government Center.
Three of the seven visitors with Horne have participated in peace-building and witness delegations to Israel and Palestine in recent years.
Wendy Hartley was part of an Interfaith Peace Builders witness delegation to Gaza in November 2012, right as conflict flared leading to Palestinian civilian deaths, similar to the situation this week.
Yvonne Turner volunteered for extended stays at Hope School near Bethlehem (West Bank) and has led subsequent delegations to the area with the United Methodist Volunteers-in-Mission program. Brian Fry joined the Olive Harvest Delegation led by Interfaith Peace Builders in October 2012.
Carol Kuczora and Susan Pelican have been accepted to the next Olive Harvest Delegation of Interfaith Peace Builders in October. The current conflict would have to abate by then to ensure the delegation would not be canceled by Israel’s closures.
The group presented Horne with multiple documents and articles from peace and journalistic organizations demonstrating the direct and essential participation by the American government to maintain Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
Horne indicated she would make sure LaMalfa and his legislative assistant specializing in foreign relations would receive the groups’ comments and information. There will be a response regarding the congressman’s own position regarding Israel and Palestine, and any relevant votes he has made in Congress.
The House last week nearly unanimously approved a resolution supporting Israel’s bombing of Gaza as part of its “right to defend itself.”
Fry asked Horne to convey this question, “Why do we always, every time, support Israel’s right to kill hundreds of Palestinian children as ‘defense’ yet never, ever, do we hear our elected officials in this country say that Palestinians have a right to defend themselves — not even nonviolently?”
Kuczora submitted information from If Americans Knew demonstrating the vast asymmetry in weaponry and casualties between Israelis and Palestinians.
Pelican, whose Jewish father escaped Germany in 1938, told Horne that she was horrified when she realized Israel was doing many of the same things to Palestinians that had been done to Jews in the Nazi period.
Palestine-Israel Working Group is a local organization founded in 2010 and affiliated with the Peace Center of Nevada County to bring more awareness in this county to the human rights abuses resulting from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories, according to the group.
The group has sponsored numerous films and speakers, including Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans with personal intensive experience in “on-the-ground realities” in both Israel and Palestine.
For three years, the group has been coordinating with the Middle East Children’s Alliance, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, to raise funds to build small water desalination and purification units for kindergartens and United Nations schools in Gaza.
Members host the “Women and Men in Black” vigils every Thursday afternoon on the Broad Street bridge in Nevada City.