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Radio Report from Jerusalem;
Wrapping up the Delegation While Remembering 40 Years of Occupation

In this report we depart slightly from our standard format of group reports from the delegation. The following piece was part of a radio broadcast that Zarinah Shakir, a member of the delegation, recorded for WPFW in Washington, DC. This broadcast aired today, June 8, on “In Our Voices” with Nkenge Toure.

As most members of the delegation prepare to return to the US tomorrow, and in light of the 40th anniversary of the 1967 war, we feel Zarinah’s piece was important to send today. We still have several pieces of reporting from the past several days of the delegation; we will send these next week.

Please also note that Zarinah will be hosting a special radio program on WPFW (89.3 FM) on Tuesday, June 12, 2007, 11:00 am to 12 noon. For those of you outside of Washington DC, you can tune in over the internet: http://www.wpfw.org/

This is Zarinah Shakir reporting from East Jerusalem, Palestine. Presently, I am at the Az Zahra Hotel in East Jerusalem. We are about seven hours ahead of Eastern Daily Savings Time. I have been here for twelve days. I am traveling with a national delegation of people from as far west as Hawaii, far north as Minnesota and Wisconsin, the south originally from Georgia and, of course, folks from the East Coast.

We are with Interfaith Peace-Builders whose headquarters is in Washington, DC and the co-sponsor, American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker peace and justice organization located throughout the United States and the world.

Our purpose was to meet with Palestinians, Jews, Christians, Muslims and Israelis to look at the forty years of occupation and how the people here are coping and what steps towards peace are being made and what still needs to be done. In 1967, what was called The Six Day War by Israelis has exacerbated the unfortunate conditions of the Palestinians from the United Nations Mandate of 1947. And, in 1948 the formation of the new state nation Israel was established. We are here during the actual 40 year commemoration from June 5 to June 10, 2007.

From the voices of many people we have met in East and West Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Bil’in and Ramallah in the West Bank, Tel Aviv and Nazareth in Israel and other cities the overwhelming opinion has been, “a change is needed.”

The acquisition or taking of land is not unfamiliar to this writer. As I had to inform some of the people of our delegation and one of the groups we met with about the ill-fated treaties signed by the U.S. government with our Native American brothers and sister, and the plight of many African-American landowners, formerly sharecroppers who lost their lands and properties because of tax issues.

Our travels have allowed us to observe the terrain from several perspectives. We’ve experienced the ever visible Israeli soldiers, checkpoints and a mall which is in Israel that is quite on the level of any upscale mall in the West. However, when you travel to many of the areas of the Palestinians the opportunities are not the same. The word apartheid has come up many times and when you see this mammoth and long wall that separates families, villages, cities and just practical living it’s almost unreal.

We met a Palestinian farmer at one stop who was a former teacher for 27 years, he raised ten children. He lives across the street from his small patch of land where there are olive and fig trees and other crops. But because there’s a six foot electric fence with sensor device that can notify the military where you are if you touch it, he must travel 1 ½ to 2 hours to get to his land. Yes, I did say it is directly across the street from his house.

Palestinians in many areas are only allowed to use five liters of water while many Israelis can use an unlimited water supply.

I will be hosting a special radio program on WPFW (89.3 FM) in Washington, DC on Tuesday, June 12, 2007, 11:00 am to 12 noon “Spirit in Action.” This program will be devoted to the Palestinian issues. Additionally, much of the day will focus on Palestine/Israel during this pledge drive time.

For now please say a prayer for our safe return and pray for the plight of our brothers and sisters throughout the world to be committed to a just and lasting peace.



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