Three people from Israel and Palestine spoke at this year's Sunday Morning Worship at Greenbelt. They shared their stories from the 'Long Now', the theme of the festival.
Following a trip to Israel and Palestine by some of Greenbelt's staff, trustees and volunteers in October last year, the festival launched its first three-year campaign at this year's event, called 'Just Peace'.
Greenbelt has also signed up to be members of the Trade Justice Movement (TJM).
My name is
and this is my story in the
I am the son of a Palestinian refugee
boy who lost his father, his home, and
all his family’s belongings by the age of
I am the grandson of the woman
who taught this boy and his six siblings
not to seek revenge and retaliation but to
seek forgiveness and reconciliation.
said, I am a Palestinian who grew up
under Israeli occupation and oppression,
witnessing and living injustice every day
of my life. I grew up seeing my enemy
through the barrel of his gun; as a soldier
who suppressed my people, as a settler
who stole my land, and as an ideology that
denied my identity and existence.
Like an olive tree that takes years to bear fruit, the seed planted by my grandmother
began to grow in my life when I discovered the power of non-violence to resist
oppression and create transformation, when I discovered that nonviolence is not
something new to Palestinian culture and struggle for liberation.
The “long now” for me does not exist in reaching a political settlement or a negotiated
peace agreement between Palestinians and Israelis. The “long now” exists in the
power of nonviolence to end all forms of oppression and begin a deep healing for all
peoples who live in the Holy Land.
The long now exists with no racism or
discrimination but in communities that are founded on the principles of love, peaceful coexistence and equality.
I was born in Manchester,
of Palestinian, Arab, Muslim parents. This is my story in the Long Now.
My mother hails from Nazareth in the
Galilee and my father from Jenin in the
West Bank. I spent my formative years
in Kuwait and I moved back to the UK 20
I see myself not as a victim, for victims can
become oppressors. I have my Palestinian
cultural DNA, and as an artist, I want to
share it with you. There are people who seek to suppress
my narrative, while others are afraid to
My debut solo album took 20 years to produce, encompassing my arrangements of
old songs I collected from Palestinian mamas in Palestine and in the refugee camps
in the region, as well as my own compositions.
It wasn’t an easy journey, but as an independent unsigned artist, I take pride in bringing my cultural heritage to you. I just want you to acknowledge my existence as a Palestinian and our rights as Palestinians. You may not like my music, but you can not ignore the collective cultural heritage of
I had the privilege earlier this year to attend a talk given by Archbishop Tutu, in which
he spoke about the struggle against Apartheid and of how the Church of England had
sustained and supported him and his colleagues in South Africa through solidarity in
their hour of need.
Similarly, the Church of Denmark responded to the threat of Nazism
and did so much to ensure the safety of their Jewish fellow citizens.
and Palestinian Christians among us, not have to wait any longer for Christians in
Europe to take up their struggle for basic justice.
After all, St George, your patron saint, was a Palestinian!
I am an Israeli Jew and this is my story in the long now.
As the Director of the Israeli Committee
Against House Demolitions, it is my task
to constantly bridge the many actions of
resistance to the Israeli Occupation “on the
ground” in which we peace activists partake
with the “long now,” the ongoing, open ended
struggle for a just peace between
Israelis and Palestinians.
It is all too easy to become distracted
by the many events on the ground that
call for our immediate attention: house
demolitions (Israel has demolished
more than 24,000 Palestinian homes in the Occupied territories since 1967), land
expropriation, settlement construction, settler and army violence against Palestinians,
military operations such as the recent attack on Gaza and much more.
These are all
the immediate, urgent “nows.” But as civil society actors dedicated to achieving a just
peace, we must be attuned to broader political developments emanating in particular
from the US and Europe – the “long now.”
We must insert ourselves into the political process because governments will not do the right thing unless they are pushed by the people.
This is not an easy task, since governments do not like to work with grassroots
groups, and certainly not those motivated by concerns for justice and human rights.
There is yet another “long” that must sustain us in the difficult endeavour of peacemaking:
the long haul. We must understand that if we take a significant chunk of social
justice as our life’s work we will be battling political, economic and social forces far
more powerful than we are.
Our efforts must be sustained not only by a belief in the
justice of our cause, but by faith that we can make a difference.
True, we may never live
to witness the success of our life’s work, but we can take umbrage in that we made a
difference. Still, I struggle to make the long now and the long haul as short as possible.
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