- In one of the break-out sessions, Ziad Abbas, program manager for cross-cultural programs at Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA), shared his personal experience and some of what MECA does. He was born in Bethlehem and grew up as a Palestinian refugee, and One of the things he shared was about why one of the MECA projects is to provide the Palestinian schools in Gaza with water purification and desalination systems. I hope I never again pour myself a glass of water without remembering what he said. He also spoke at length about the arrest and imprisonment of Palestinian children.
- Susan Abulhawa, author of the bestselling novel Morning in Jenin gave an excellent talk on Friday afternoon. I can't find anything on the web that has the particular content of her talk, but this article will give you some idea of her strong voice and her position on the issue of right of return, a term I heard often on Friday and which now makes sense to me. Later she read from her book of poetry, My Voice Sought the Wind. She preceded her live reading by showing this video of her reading her poem, "Wala"; it will give you a inkling of the stirring poetry we experienced on Friday evening.
- Rev. Graylan Scott Hagler gave a powerful speech making connections between the situation in Palestine and other places and times, such as South Africa's apartheid, the Europeans coming to the Americas and taking land (and taking lives) away from the indigenous people by force and false treaties etc., African peoples being taken from their homeland and sent as slaves to the "New World"... This link contains an excerpt from another speech Rev Hagler gave that was also a part of his speech Friday night. Also on the web is a blog he wrote for his congregation about his trip to Palestine in January 2014; he also spoke of these experiences during his presentation on Friday evening.
A footnote: I was looking back at some previous blogposts, and found my own reference to the book Exodus by Leon Uris in my post from last August. I read and enjoyed it back when I was a teenager... but I don't think I will ever look at the book or Israel the same way again after my experience at the conference Friday.