Sr Mary writes on the peacemakers in Israel

 Last Monday, the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI) sponsored an all-day workshop at Tantur Ecumenical Institute. The theme of the day was 'Strategies for Peace Making'. Men and women from various peace and justice organizations were present, and after listening to a panel discussion on how politics is not bringing either justice or peace to the peoples of this land, we were encouraged not to focus on the failure of the peace process. Rather, we were encouraged to widen our circles and continue our efforts with 'popular diplomacy', reaching the grass roots, reaching those who feel ignored, both Palestinians and Israelis. We were encouraged to continue to promote a culture of peace by promoting dialogue to understand the anxieties and aspirations of both peoples and promoting cooperation on as many levels as humanly possible. In the afternoon, participants joined one of eight interest groups and evaluated strategies in their efforts of dialogue and cooperation. There were many leaders at this workshop, people who have not given up working for justice and peace, people who have continued to plant seeds even though the gap between the two societies and cultures in this land is so large. I left the meeting with a clear concept of what I was going to do to close the gap. I called Rabbi Arik Asherman of the Rabbis for Human Rights and signed myself up to join them and their group all next week to plant olive trees in the Palestinian villages where the Israeli Occupation Forces had bulldozed or otherwise destroyed the olive groves. I'll fill you in on that next week. But in the meantime during what seems to be a week of intensification in the cycle of violence, know that many individuals in both Israeli and Palestinian societies are still working for justice and peace. And an increasing number of Israeli combat officers and soldiers are refusing to continue to serve in the Israeli Occupation Force 'for the purpose of domination, expulsion, starvation and humiliation of an entire people' . These officers and soldiers have stated that 'the mission of occupation and repression does not serve the defense of the State of Israel.' Israel's Bar Association has called upon the soldiers: "to disobey orders to hunt down and assassinate Palestinian activists - except as a last resort to save lives." The Bar Association Committee for the Rule of Law and Human Rights said: "The elimination policy is illegal and contrary to the rules of war and international law, which define assassination as a serious war crime." Yossi Arron, chairman of the advisory committee, went on to say, "...let no one be surprised if he finds himself on trial one day for what he did in uniform." Sr Mary is an Ursuline nun working in Jerusalem

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