LETTER FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR:
Dear JPB Family & Friends,
Just over a month ago, at a JPB Community Zoom meeting, former JPB program assistant, Ariella Goodman spoke these words, “We will figure it out together, in the ruins of October 2023 and its aftermath. [Let us create] shared spaces between Israeli Jewish and Palestinian Arab community members…even when it might feel very contradictory. Let us confront these contradictions together.”
In October Hamas terrorists killed 1,400 children and adults, seized 230 hostages, and shattered life for the peoples of Israel. Not since the Holocaust of the 1930s and 1940s had so many Jews died violently in a single day. The terror of that assault triggered Israeli attacks on Hamas that have displaced 1.5 million Gazans, flattened entire neighborhoods, and claimed 13,000 lives, most of them noncombatants. This is the largest death-toll for Palestinian Arabs since the Nakba in 1948.
Hezbollah militants have also been attacking Israel along the Lebanese border. In theWest Bank, violence involving Israeli settlers has spiked. In Israel proper, Arab citizensincreasingly find themselves the targets of abuse and arrest.
Allow me to put human names and faces to some of the innocent victims.
Amit Man worked as a paramedic in Kibbutz Be’eri. Amit was caring for wounded children when Hamas gunmen killed her. Roi Idan worked as a news photographer. Roiwas shot dead while shielding his daughter Abigail from harm. She now is a hostage in Gaza. Award Dawarshe was a paramedic and a Palestinian citizen of Israel. When Hamas began shooting at the Nova Music Festival, Award refused to flee and died helping attendees. Iyad Asker died in the bombing of the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza.Iyad was five years old. Heba Zaqout was a 39-year-old artist and schoolteacher in Gaza. Heba was killed alongside her two young sons, Adam and Mahmoud, by an IDF missile strike.
Many have observed that conflicts between Hamas and Israel are cyclical — even predictable. But the lives of each victim of terror and war are unique and precious in God’s eyes. Without leadership and a vision for a shared future beyond conflict, the cycle of death and destruction will only continue. And the lives and dreams of whole generations will be lost and shattered.
Nourishing fresh leadership and visions for a shared future beyond the forgone conclusions of history is the mission of Jerusalem Peacebuilders. Our work provides high school students and educators with life-changing opportunities, skills and relationships based on shared equality, security, and respect.
Empowering Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs as they discover purpose and truth beyond these contradictions is the very stuff of peacebuilding. Thank you for accompanying Jerusalem Peacebuilders with your prayers, participation, and financial support as we work together to expand the possible and the will to accomplish it.
Peace, שלום ,سلام,
(The Rev. Canon) Nicholas Porter