MCC in Palestine and Israel

In 2017, MCC launched the A Cry for Home campaign which advocates for a just peace that enables the people in Palestine and Israel to live without fear and in dignity, where everyone has a place to call home. This week on our blog we feature commonly asked questions about MCC’s work in Palestine and Israel.

What is MCC’s mission?

Mennonite Central Committee, a worldwide ministry of Anabaptist churches, shares God’s love and compassion for all in the name of Christ by responding to basic human needs and working for peace and justice. MCC envisions communities worldwide in right relationship with God, one another and creation.

When did MCC come to this land?

MCC has been present since 1949, initially assisting Palestinian refugees from the War of 1948 with physical needs. Through the years, MCC has accepted invitations from Palestinians to walk alongside them as they search for justice, peace and freedom. MCC has worked with Israeli partners since Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in 1967. MCC supports the efforts of both Palestinians and Israelis committed to nonviolence and to a future of peace, justice and reconciliation for both peoples.

Why does MCC work in Palestine?

MCC works in more than 50 countries, in settings where people are impoverished, marginalized or oppressed, due to natural disasters or conflict. MCC works in Palestine because people there experience marginalization and oppression.

Harbor in Gaza City, Palestine. (MCC photo/Lynn Longenecker)

On whose side is MCC?

Wherever we work, MCC is on the side of a just peace between societal groups or people in conflict. MCC does not choose one people group over another. “MCC does take sides with the good news of Christ that reconciliation between enemies is possible and that reconciliation involves the doing of justice. MCC does take sides against all forms of violence, regardless who perpetrates it. MCC also ‘takes sides’ against a false neutrality that portrays Palestinians and Israelis as equal partners to the conflict and that avoids the task of identifying military occupation, siege and dispossession as injustice.”*

Israel, as an occupying power, controls the daily lives of Palestinians in matters ranging from ability to travel, to whether agricultural produce makes it to outside markets, access to water and more. A false neutrality ignores or is unaware of this power imbalance and the frustrations that it engenders, and offers solutions that are therefore ineffectual.

“Finally, MCC ‘takes sides’ with courageous Israeli peace groups and nonviolent Palestinian groups who struggle jointly against military occupation and through that struggle form new bonds of solidarity and cooperation.”**

Manal Ibrahim Ali Mohammad Khamis, 13, picks vegetables in the garden next to her home in Jubbet Ad Dhib. The Palestinian village is located in the West Bank about six kilometers south of Bethlehem and residents have very limited access to water and electricity. (MCC photo/Emily Loewen)

Does MCC help the people of Israel?

MCC supports Israeli organizations who promote a just peace, respect human rights and acknowledge historical facts regarding all the people in the land. In Palestine, occupation policies mean that basic needs such as clean water, food, shelter and education are severely impacted for Palestinians. MCC and partners provide relief assistance in the context of justice-seeking efforts. In Israel, MCC supports such efforts among minority groups in Israel who lack some of the same basic needs as those under occupation. In our experience, when combined with efforts of like-minded Palestinian organizations, both Israelis and Palestinians are ‘helped’ as walls break down, bridges are built, mutual trust and respect grow and daily life has a chance to become more secure for all.

How does MCC do its peacebuilding work in Palestine and Israel?

MCC supports Palestinian and Israeli partners in their peacebuilding efforts, ranging from group-oriented conflict transformation processes in Palestinian society to Israelis walking with fellow Israelis conscientiously opposed to military service. MCC believes that each person is created and loved by God, communicates opposition to all forms of violence and supports efforts to address its underlying causes.

MCC appeals for the human rights of all to be universally respected. MCC seeks to raise awareness that in this context, the rights of one people group, Palestinians, are violated, and advocates for those rights to be realized. MCC affirms its Palestinian and Israeli partners in sharing their truths in creative ways – in writings, video presentations, works of art and more.

MCC has witnessed here and elsewhere that without justice, there is no peace. MCC advocates to U.S. and Canadian governments for just policies committed to the well-being of the people of the region.

MCC workers pray for all people – Jews, Christians and Muslims – who live in Palestine and Israel. We pray and invite prayers for wisdom in our presence and work.

Children play outside at Shoroq wa-Amal children’s center in Khan Younis refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, Palestine. (MCC photo/Lynn Longenecker)

To learn more about MCC’s work in Palestine and Israel and to find out how you can get involved, visit our website here.

Join us in praying that:

• our eyes will be opened to the ways in which our beliefs and actions have contributed to injustice and violence;
• a spirit of love will enable all people to see the face of God in each other;
• political leaders will have courage to make choices for the good of all people in Palestine and Israel;
• all people may live securely, without fear and with dignity in the land.

These questions where originally published in MCC’s booklet, MCC and Palestine and Israel: Commonly asked questions.

* Sonia K. Weaver, What is Palestine-Israel? Answers to Common Questions, Harrisonburg, VA.: Herald Press, 2017, p. 72.
** Weaver, p. 72.

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