By John Poole. John Poole contributes from his journey to Palestine and briefly accompanying some Palestinian People in their unspeakable reality. John is a friend of JEM, a Vietnam veteran, a Veteran for Peace, a man who accompanied various Latin Americans in the 1980s in their struggles with the injustices of their leadership—a leadership functioning with the support of the U.S. and the economic structures designed by publicly traded, global corporations. We welcome John’s first contribution to this website.
The suffering and hope of the Palestinian people locked in open-air prisons, surrounded by 30-foot walls of concrete has inspired me in a way that is similar to what I experienced when I traveled to Central America in the 1980’s; which translates into an integration of their message of hoping for justice and peace into my everyday way of being and behaving. I’ve been back a little over two weeks, and I’ve become accustomed to sharing and reflecting on the experience every day with someone(s). I know that I’ve been saturated with both grief and joy in communicating my experiences daily, because I don’t even need to keep track of what I’ve done on any given day. Special highlights for me involved 3 one-to-one conversations there. One was with Soumaya Talhami, who lives in Nazareth. In her youth, she lived in the Chicago area and attended Northwestern University. Her despair stemmed from the relentless militarism employed by the Fundamentalist Zionists. Her joy came from meeting enough of us from the U.S. and Europe, who openly cared about her. We talked well past the end of the gathering on the last night of the conference. Everyone else had left the room, and the workers had cleaned the room. She would apologize to them in Arabic, but they encouraged her to continue a number of times. We shared a hug as we departed.
A second experience involved meeting Janet Lewis, who represents the United Methodist Church in Palestine. She has lived and worked there for 17 years; ten of those years with Sabeel. She was interested in Grameen Jaleel, a microlending organization that I support financially which provides microfinancial services to Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank. She has seen and heard much of what the Palestinians have suffered and remains there in solidarity with them.
The third encounter involved Iyad in a remote mountain village, where the local people have a weekly demonstration with the Israeli soldiers. Last Friday, he was hit in the head with a tear-gas cannister fired at him. He and his family hosted our group of 35 people in his home for dinner. In a private moment, I was able to say to him that I understood his struggle for justice. I mentioned that I had been arrested 15 times for protesting against the U.S. government. We shared a hug.