EAPPI is a world-wide network. Our EAPPI national coordination offices in 26 countries work hard to recruit EAPPI human rights monitors and coordinate their advocacy when they return home. Today, we continue our series in which we get to hear from these dedicated supporters of EAPPI all over the world.
Today, the Presbyterian Church of Canada, one of our sending churches for EAs in Canada, shares why they participate in EAPPI.
How did you get involved with EAPPI?
The Presbyterian Church in Canada (PCC) sent its first Ecumenical Accompanier (EA) to volunteer with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) in 2007, in response to the call from Heads of Churches in Jerusalem to stand in solidarity with the churches and people in Palestine. To date, 6 volunteers from the PCC have served as EAs.
What’s your favorite thing about EAPPI?
EAs work in international teams providing witness and accompaniment. As one of our EAs described:
“It felt as though the whole world met and worked together.”
The ecumenical nature of the program encourages unity of purpose. In the field, EAs establish that human connection with local communities while working together for peace with Palestinians, Israelis and other organizations in the area. Over the years, the EAPPI has been able to build its capacity especially in the production of advocacy resources for use by EAs for increased awareness.
What beliefs motivated you to get involved with EAPPI or the Palestinian/Israeli conflict?
The PCC’s fundamental belief is that all human beings are created equal in the image of God and that an injustice to one is an injustice to all.
After the 2nd Intifada, the PCC and other churches realized that if peace was to be achieved, the church had to exercise its prophetic voice, be an active participant in the search for a just peace and reconciliation and put a human face to the suffering in the West Bank.
“The Church believes that it is the right as much as duty of an occupied people to struggle against injustice in order to gain freedom, although it also believes that non-violent means of struggle remain stronger and far more efficient.” ~WCC Central Committee 2001, Potsdam
Why do you support EAPPI as opposed to other organizations working in Israel/Palestine?
In its operations, the EAPPI emphasizes impartiality and cooperation in its recognition that there are both Palestinian and Israeli communities committed to justice, peace, and respect for human rights and that the marginalization of any of them will hinder its work.
As an organization and partner, the EAPPI has made great strides in achieving its objectives of ensuring an international presence in the occupied territories with cooperation from the countries that send EAs to the West Bank.
EAs monitor checkpoints many days per week to observe and gather data on incidences that threaten peace. It is this constant presence and accompaniment that distinguishes the EAPPI from other organizations. The EAPPI presents an incredible opportunity to EAs to monitor human rights abuses at the grassroots level.
EAs listen to many local stories from communities with an open mind; actively participate in their everyday routine like sharing meals while empathizing with their daily struggles.
What do you think needs to be done to end the occupation and achieve peace in Israel and Palestine?
More governments should show commitment to peace in Palestine & Israel through deliberate engagement with both Palestinians and Israelis in all aspects of their lives so that global collective actions may influence policies that reflect equality, tolerance, self-expression and co-existence.
In a sermon on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the EAPPI in November 2012, His Grace Bishop Dr. Munib Younan expressed his hope that one day both Palestinians and Israelis will recognize each others’ humanity and interdependence in order to achieve a just peace.
Why should a Canadian be involved with EAPPI or the Israeli/Palestinian conflict?
The PCC believes strongly that there can be no peace without justice. The concept of protective presence is based upon the idea that an international person has more of ‘voice’ than the average Palestinian and that this ‘voice’ can help deter or minimize instances of human rights abuses. Canadians can use their ‘voices’ and presence to accompany Palestinian brothers and sisters. The message of just peace is more effective when it is based on eyewitness accounts and every little bit counts.
Thank you to Margaret Zondo, Program Administrator for International Ministries of The Presbyterian Church in Canada (PCC) and EAPPI Coordinator within this denomination, as well as Jeanie, Jake, and Magan, former EAs, for contributing to this article!