Above: Village elder Yusef Manassra facing the illegal Israeli settlement that threatens the future of Wadi Foquin. Yusef was 25 in 1948 when the Israeli army evacuated the village, forcing residents first into nearby hills and then into a UN refugee camp. In 1972, when villagers were allowed to return and rebuild, he vowed he would never be forced out of his home again. Yusef lived in Wadi Foquin until his death at age 95 on May 11, 2017. —Photo by Jakob Schiller
UM Missionary Janet Lahr Lewis to speak in Northern California
Retiring United Methodist missionary Janet Lahr Lewis (pictured above, in Wadi Foquin) will be meeting with Northern California congregations in February 2018 to share reflections on her 20 years of mission service in Israel-Palestine—including the establishment of Friends of Wadi Foquin—and 2 years advocating for Middle East peace initiatives on Capitol Hill. For information on the February 3 welcome dinner in Oakland or to RSVP, click here. For other opportunities to hear Janet, click here.
Update on 2017 Capitol Hill Briefing
Above, from left: Wadi Foquin Mayor Sokar, U.S. Rep. McCollum, and Bethlehem Mayor Salman
The Friends of Wadi Foquin held a successful briefing on Nov. 14 in Washington, D.C., for U.S. congressional staff to meet Palestinian mayors Ahmad Sokar of Wadi Foquin and Anton Salman of Bethlehem. The mayors spoke powerfully about the devastating impact of Israeli settlements on their West Bank communities and reminded attendees that it is U.S. policy to oppose the settlements. We were also able to meet privately with several legislative representatives, including Minnesota Congresswoman Betty McCollum, who introduced legislation (HR 4391) to end U.S. tax support of Israeli military detention of Palestinian children that same week. As a follow-up to our visits, we are asking legislators to contact the State Department to request the Consul General in Jerusalem visit Mayor Sokar in Wadi Foquin and intervene in the announced expansion of the settlement of Betar Illit. The mayor will contact the Consul General directly, and support from legislative offices will serve to reinforce his request. More will be forthcoming on how you can support this effort.
A significant and timely meeting was also held with the new PLO Ambassador, Dr. Husam Zomlot. In addition to recognizing the significance of our interfaith relationship with Wadi Foquin, Zomlot stressed the importance of Mayor Salman’s presence and voice in Washington as a Palestinian Christian. He told us the PLO office will be hosting “A Bethlehem Christmas on the Hill” holiday party at the congressional office building on Dec. 6 as a reminder of the Palestinian Christian presence in the Holy Land.
Thanks to Churches for Middle East Peace, Faith Forum, and the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society, which co-sponsored the briefing and helped arrange meetings. Click here for a GBCS report on the briefing.
Below, from left: FOWF co-chair Michael Yoshii; Wadi Foquin Mayor Sokar; PLO Ambassador Zomlot; Bethlehem Mayor Salman; Rev. Mike Friedrich, FOWF pilgrimages co-coordinator; and Janet Lahr Lewis, General Board of Global Ministries Advocacy Coordinator for the Middle East and former United Methodist missionary to Israel and Palestine.
Wadi Foquin is the site of a community development project supported through the United Methodist Church's General Board of Global Ministries (Advance project #3021565). A resolution supporting Wadi Foquin was passed at the church's May 2016 General Conference acknowledging the challenges of settlement expansion and recent land confiscation orders. The resolution calls for accountability from the Israeli government for the destruction of land and life in Wadi Foquin. It also calls on U.S. officials to contact the Israeli government to immediately halt the illegal Israeli settlements and confiscation of Palestinian land.
Almost 2 of 6 units funded
Support the new guesthouse project
As we enter into 2018, we want to invite you to support the new guesthouse project in Wadi Foquin. Your contributions will help fund construction of visitor accommodations on land vulnerable to confiscation, generating needed income while serving as a deterrent to further land annexation. For the people of the village, their continued existence is a form of resistance to the settlement expansion and Israeli military occupation. Each guesthouse will cost $7,000 to build. As each $7,000 is raised, a new guesthouse will be built. The goal is to build six of them. Please help us meet that goal. As of mid-January 2018, we were very close to funding two of the units. Your gifts can be made online through the General Board of Global Ministries Advance program (Advance project #3021565) or by check to BMU-FOWF with “guesthouse” in the memo line (mail to Jean Hart, FOWF Treasurer, 730 Tree Top Lane, Auburn, CA 95603).
Alameda multimedia exhibit features