North San Juan woman scared but excited about trip to Israel
Tanya Rentz is putting her immediate fears on hold.
Even though the North San Juan resident knows West Bank settlements aren’t a safe place to be, she was pleased Friday when beginning her two-week peacemaking mission to Bethlehem, Hebron and Jerusalem.
She will join 11 strangers from throughout the United States and Canada for the mission, sponsored by the nonprofit Christian Peacemaker Teams headquartered in Chicago.
Trip participants include a minister, pastor, college professor, community activists and Rentz, a family advocate who works with 3- and 4-year-olds and their families in Nevada County.
“I’m scared of course; it’s a war zone,” Rentz said Wednesday from the safety of her home in Nevada County. “But I feel surrounded by a lot of love from people here and family and friends.”
Warnings from Christian Peacemaker Teams to be cautious going into the airport and to refrain from walking in big groups haven’t dampened Rentz’s enthusiasm for the trip.
“I’m looking forward to being in and smelling the smells (Turkish coffee and incense) of the Middle East and being with Middle Easterns, and talking Arabic and meeting other peace workers,” she said. Rentz’s mother was originally from Egypt.
Rentz was born in Saudi Arabia and lived in Egypt until she was 14. Then her family moved to Stanford in 1963 because of the political climate and the fact that her father was tired of commuting between Saudi Arabia and Egypt for his job with Aramco Oil Company.
In early April of this year, comments she heard on Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now” radio show made Rentz want to join international peace workers in some way.
Two weeks later, on April 20, she and 400 other members of what quickly grew into the Peace Center of Nevada County attended a march in San Francisco. Rentz was by chance handed a Christian Peacemaker Teams flyer.
“The flyer provided the means for me to join the international efforts,” she said.
While on the Middle East trip from Sept. 13 to 27, Rentz will meet Israeli and Palestinian peace groups and record her observations of life there. She hopes to share her experiences with interested area groups when she returns home.
This Tuesday, Rentz will do a noon telephone interview from Hebron to be broadcast live during Alan Stahler’s program on community radio station KVMR-89.5 FM in Nevada City.
She doesn’t mind the expenses or, for that matter, the time and risks involved in the Middle Eastern trip.
“It’s a privilege actually to be able to go,” Rentz said. “Not everyone can go. I just hope to increase understanding between people.”
Open to everyone, the Peace Center of Nevada County meets every three weeks on different evenings in Grass Valley. Call 470-9797 for more information about the center.
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