<  Reflection Two: Israeli Army Segregates Us By Religion  >

July 2017 Delegation |  Interfaith Network for Justice Delegation
Co-Sponsored with American Muslims for Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace, and the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship


Overview: The second collection of reflections from the Interfaith Network for Justice Delegation to Palestine/Israel begins with Melissa N.'s recounting of the group's visit to Hebron where Israeli Defense Forces soldiers segregated the delegates along religious lines. A video of the encounter follows.

This collection also includes two Instagram stories: Elizabeth W. and Eric E. reflect on the delegation's homestays in Dheisheh Refugee Camp; and Farah E.-J. shares photos from a visit to the Palestinian village of Lifta.

The collection is rounded out by several reflections from Sherly F., Elizabeth W.'s powerful list of daily reminders; and Melissa N.'s meditation on the WALL.


“No Muslims Allowed”   |   Melissa N. - Dorchester, Massachusetts

Hebron, West Bank, Palestine. We came to bear witness to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. I thought I had a grasp on the “situation” but without experiencing Hebron first-hand how could I have imagined the level of relentless discrimination and abusive military conduct?

In less than two hours we witnessed a constant barrage of arbitrary yet deliberate harassment.

Some examples of what we saw:


From the first moment we try to walk down the street together we are stopped by a soldier.

No Muslims allowed.”

“We are Americans.”


“We are Americans.”

Let me see your passports.” Another soldier shows up.

We are not Palestinians.

It is separated by religions - this street is not for Muslims they must go the other way.”

Security? By segregation of religions? Our passports do not say our religion.

If you go any further you will be arrested.”

We split up and meet up past the house that has been occupied by Jewish settlers. They are claiming to have bought one hundredth of a share in the building and therefore have rights to it. They walk about with heavy weapons hanging off their shoulders. They follow us to hear what our guide is explaining. Our guide welcomes them. He is fearless.


A young Palestinian boy chased off his bicycle by a white Israeli man in a white scull cap runs into our crowd crying. The man tries to take off with the bike. He clearly believes he has the right to do so. He doesn’t know that arch defender of human rights, Issa Amro, is our guide and Issa immediately calls out and demands the bike. In no time the Israeli army shows up and so does a religious Israeli man appearing out of a passing car to defend the perpetrator, an Orthodox Jewish Israeli, who admitted that it wasn't his but because the boy was riding on a Jewish only road it "might belong to a Jewish kid".  We were all filming. I felt utter outrage for the abuse.


A Muslim man has already gone through the metal detector of the entrance to the mosque. He does so every day. Five times a day to sing the call to prayer. The Israeli soldiers know him. He is detained at a secondary checkpoint. He has to remove his belt. Maybe he will be late? The sun is beating down and the soldier is irritable.


We are returning to Jerusalem and we hear the unmistakable clatter of low flying military helicopters. Two of them headed back towards Hebron. We are frightened for what our friends might be experiencing. We find out that it is a Jewish holiday of remembrance, of fasting. The Jewish Israeli people of Hebron want to visit a grave that is in an area restricted to them so the Palestinian residents of Hebron are on lock down for several hours until the Jewish people safely return to their homes.


All of this and much more was hard to "just witness".


VIDEO: Israeli Army Segregates Delegation Based on Religion

Israeli occupying forces in Hebron forcibly segregated our #JustFaith17 delegation according to religion. Muslim-American delegates were forced to separate from Christian-American and Jewish-American delegates.

This is the Israeli army US taxpayers support and sustain. US taxpayers give Israel over $3 billion in military aid every year to enforce separate and unequal treatment based on religion.

video produced by Jewish Voice for Peace for Youth Against Settlements


Instagram Stories from Dheisheh Refugee Camp   |   Elizabeth W. and Eric E.

The delegation stayed overnight in the Dheisheh Refugee Camp, near Bethlehem. Dheisheh is home to more than 15,000 Palestinian refugees from 45 communities in what is now Israel.

The residents of the camp continue to insist on their internationally recognized right to return to the homes and the lands that Israel expropriated after expelling more than 750,000 Palestinians in the 1948 Nakba (Catastrophe).

Most amazing #family I've met: Suhier and Naji hosted us like kindred last night in the Dheisheh refugee camp outside #Bethlehem last night. These two are revolutionary educators for refugees' right to return to #Palestine, and risk their lives for #justice. ・・・ #Repost from @elizabethwelliver with the #JustFaith17 delegation in the #Dheishah Refugee Camp: Naji has served ten years in jail for demonstrating his rights, their home raided hundreds of times. Their camp is invaded every night by #Israeli soldiers, including last night!! Even though #Israel has no legal presence here, soldiers capture #youth for arrest and sending tear gas bombs, shooting open fire into the camp.  This is what #colonial #occupation looks like: eleven family members have been killed by #Israel. Israeli prisons use #torture and #isolation against people who do not commit any crime.  Dheisheh was a tent camp of 1,000 in 1949 following the #Nakba and is now 15,000 in crowded structures with no public services.  Where is international recognition of these refugees? Where is the UN? How can this family keep going? The strength of the #Palestinian spirit is unbreakable, and it is our duty to work for them to return home. . ❤️ ✊ #rightofreturn #hospitality #endtheoccupation #Israeliapartheid #Bethlehem #martyrs #IDF #teargas #revolution #liberation #freePalestine #refugees #family #justfaith17

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Meet the #martyrs of the Deheisha camp outside #Bethlehem. Brilliant, beautiful children of #God - sons, brothers, students, leaders - murdered by Israeli Defense Forces in #occupied territory.  My host family has lost their nephews Jad in 2002 and Motaz in 2015, shot cold in the streets both at age 26. These men have been killed cold-blooded for protesting for their #rights.  Where is #justice? How can #Israel invade #Palestine every day to steal the souls of their youth? Who is next? ・・・ #Repost from @elizabethwelliver with the #JustFaith17 delegation in Palestine/Israel #freepalestine #blacklivesmatter #endtheoccupation #colonialism #faces #human #justfaith17

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A good antidote for unlearning islamophobia and anti-Arab racism is spending a night with a Palestinian family in a refugee camp.  The only snag in the hospitality I received was when the IDF raided the camp at 4:00 am. Shouts to the IDF for timing it's nightly raids to inflict maximum stress on the thousands of people who have been stuck in the camp since 1948. ・・・ #Repost from @ericeingold with the #JustFaith17 delegation in #Palestine/Israel #justfaith17 #refugeestories  #refugees #palestinianrefugees #thisiswhatoccupationlookslike #ambushinthenight

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Friday Prayers   |   Sherly F. - Stony Point, New York

Last Friday, I woke up and decided to go to Friday prayers it sounds simple enough, but in occupied Jerusalem where nothing is ever that simple or easy. In order to just get off the street I was on I had to go through an Israeli military checkpoint then another and another. If that wasn't enough I spent most of my time at the mosque feeling afraid that at any minute something could go wrong and we would all be in danger.

As uneasy as I felt I never felt like we shouldn't be there or that I wanted to leave. This is true religious persecution to be made to feel uneasy in one of the holiest places in the world the third holiest mosque in Islam.  

I am happy I went, happy we are safe and ashamed that people have let things get this far. We have a serious moral, social and spiritual responsibility to the Palestinians and the Holy Land and we are failing them.


Daily Reminders   |   Elizabeth W. - Davidson, North Carolina

The past nine days have been a stream of constant learning and immersive encounters with Palestinian and Israeli activists. We have had the rare opportunity to see areas of the country from the Jordan River to the Dead Sea, the village of Bil'in, and the future of Hebron, Ramallah, Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Bethlehem, Nazareth and Jerusalem.

While meeting with leaders of 22 organizations, we've seen into the intricate woven fabric of civil society and learned from multiple perspectives of history, identity, and analysis.

This list is an interpretation of the daily tasks and hopes of those on the front lines of the resistance to injustice, working to end the occupation.

I learned from our trip leader Shakeel that in Islam, the most important expression of faith is through repeated, small actions. 

To do (a list of #resistance actions across peoples & borders):

October 28 - November 10, 2017

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Ramallah and Al Aqsa   |   Sherly F. - Stony Point, New York

Last week, we took a trip to Ramallah that was both fun and emotionally draining. One Palestinian organization in particular that helps with prisoners sometimes as young as 12 was the hardest meeting to sit through thus far.

We then had to go to a check point in order to get back to Jerusalem. When we got back on the bus we heard news that Israel had closed the Al Aqsa Mosque once again because someone had flown a Palestinian flag from the rooftop. There were clashes in the street and as we neared our hotel we had to take an alternative route because the street was closed.

As we got of the bus we could here sound bombs and rubber bullets being fired just down the street from us. I started crying in grief, despair, anger. Why are they doing this? Why is nothing sacred in the Holy land?

I feared for the young Palestinian men in the streets who would surely be looked at by the Israeli military and police (and most of the International community) as the problem. I felt how unfair, unjust, and cruel this type of reporting/propaganda is, to blame the victim on top of everything else is just too much.

I think the Israeli government thinks these type of tactics will persuade Palestinians and their supporters to give up but it only emboldens us. If I was 99.99% percent pro Palestinian before, today I signed up to be a full member of the Palestinian struggle.


Lifta: An Instagram Story   |   Farah E.-J. - Columbia, Missouri

Today we visited the Palestinian village of #Lifta which was attacked by Zionist militias and destroyed during the #nakba in the lead up to the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. Part of the village is now designated as a nature reserve and Jewish Israelis use it for picnics, camping, and other such things. Some of the families that were forced out currently live in Jerusalem and Ramallah and are not allowed the very basic right of return to this day. In the third picture, the buildings on the hill overlooking Lifta sit on the remains of the village of #deiryassin where Zionists massacred 100 Palestinians during the Nakba. To learn more, check out Zochrot, the Israeli organization that led the tour and has many great resources dedicated to documenting and educating about the Nakba. #justfaith17

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The WALL   |   Melissa N. - Dorchester, Massachusetts

Some impressions of a tour that tore my heart, of a talk that was fierce, of a leader that asked us to build bridges and another look at the WALL.

Zochrot. Omar is remembering.
He draws the route on the backside of his hand.

                                                the WALL: Is it time?

The remembering of Lifta

Quickly remember because Lifta is now a name in parentheses and someone who cannot bear that there is a past that is connected to an unholy act has rubbed the Arabic name off the sign that points to a school, a fig tree, almonds, pools where the animals drank, and a mosque. Where the people who lived in that and that and that and that house prayed.
Somewhere out there there are two graves.

                         the WALL: Are we there yet?

Lifta has a new Hebrew name. Mei Naftoah conspires to erase the truth.

Someone is trying to change the story of the town into a reserve, a nature park. It does not matter what lies are told. I remember so many lies that were told.

Quickly remember the route before there is a mall and luxury homes.
Map the route that will lead to safe return
It must be in there in the stories of this town, this village, this hillside where the violence made empty these homes.

                                                the WALL: People will never forget how you made them feel

It is in the remembering. Despite the denial, denial, denial reparation, of residency, of this basic human right to go home. To save the key to your house, to go away and lock the door and know you can come back any day you damn please and find things just the way you left them.
It is in the remembering that there is a possibility of return.
And when the systematic stripping stripping of it all makes nothing to return to?
                                    the WALL: Life will find a way

I will call today Right of Return.

With emphasis on the Return of Dignity.

Gratitude for Zochrot, Badil, Kairos and Banksy.

"The Room"   |   Sherly F. - Stony Point, New York

It felt like something out of a bad cliche spy movie.  I walk up to the passport control window super nervous on the inside but trying to hold it together on the outside when the passport control lady barely looks at my passport before she asked me if I was with the group. I answered yes and was swiftly taken to a holding room where most of the members of my group were being detained. I ended up spending two hours in that room but that was definitely luckier then those who spent most of the day there.

It just felt like a tactic to intimidate us more than security measures. I felt irritated but glad I did not have to catch an 11hr flight back home. This “un-welcome” to Israel now seems like an appropriate warning for what I've felt since.



We invite delegation participants to comment on and react to the experiences they have during our Israel/Palestine delegations in written Trip Reflections

Individual delegates contribute pieces to these reflections.  As such, reflections are not comprehensive accounts of every meeting or experience, but impressions of those things that most impact individuals.  Submitted reflections may be edited for clarity or brevity. Trip reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Interfaith Peace-Builders, American Muslims for Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, trip leaders, or delegation partner organizations.  We hope you enjoy reading and we encourage you to share these reflections with others.

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