Sumud Palestine was invited to put on a display in College Hall as part of a splendid weekend of events on Palestine at Lichfield Cathedral. We did not know what to expect but led by Pat Mood we determined to put on a good display.
Fortunately Jim had proposed that we should have some Sumud Palestine T-shirts and, like the Free Palestine banners modelled on those of Women in Black, a small group of us can now cut something of a dash for every occasion.
As the centre piece of a three panel display we set an olive tree against a background of a blue sky, a Palestinian landscape and a field of two year old olive trees planted some three years earlier by ‘internationals’ for the JAI Keep Hope Alive Olive Tree Campaign.
We invited visitors to write a message in support of Palestinians on a leaf and stick it on the board. These are just some of them,
‘I’ve been moved by the story of your suffering. I will be holding you in the light.’
‘Stop the siege on Gaza.’
‘Please find peace.’
‘Peace and hope for one nation for all.’
‘Dear friends in Palestine we will stand with you until justice is born.’
‘Peace for All.’
‘Solidarity with all international efforts to free Palestine and support the people in their struggle for justice and peace.’
‘Pray for peace and reconciliation.’
‘Solidarity with all Palestinians.’
‘Peace in our time, please.’
‘Peace with justice for Palestinians and Israelis.’
We also plied visitors with information about the Keep Hope Alive Olive Tree Campaign and set pictures from Palestine around the hall. Daryl ensured that we had a good supply of Zaytoun products on sale and there was also a stall of Palestinian embroidery.
We thought there might be an opportunity to sell tea and coffee. We hadn’t bargained on people leaving the Cathedral in search of a drink and coming across College Hall before they reached the café! We did a roaring trade and while not charging we ended the day with £75.34 in a pot on the counter!
Commenting on the day, Pat wrote:
I thought it was a great team effort – and interesting too. I had some good chats with people who came to our exhibition, including two of the speakers.
There was a splendid service this morning (Sunday) with the dean, bishop and full pomp, including a dialogue between Dr Clare Amos* (that woman in black who made lots of astute remarks at the talks yesterday) and Dr Yazid Said*, and we left them gearing up for the final dialogue with all the contributors and, hastily added after a protest by the Board of Jewish Deputies, an Israeli Jewish theologian. After a security briefing the cathedral is to be closed this afternoon to visitors who do not have a ticket!
(*Dr Clare Amos is on the staff of the World Council of Church and Dr Yazid Said is an Israeli-Arab Anglican priest lecturing in Islamic Studies at Liverpool University)
I wonder if the Israeli Jewish theologian to whom Pat refers was Rabbi David Goldberg OBE, of whom I am a great admirer. He spoke after lunch on Sunday and I was pleased to ask for him to sign my copy of his book ‘This is Not the Way: Jews, Judaism and Israel.’ He is emeritus rabbi of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in St John’s Wood, has long been regarded as a gadfly by the British Jewish establishment. He is very active in inter-faith dialogue and I have his contact details!
There was a host of speakers including Professor Ilam Pappe. We were able to absent ourselves in turn to attend a talk. Many people were sad that Dervla Murphy had to withdraw; I understand age and arthritis got the better of her.
The event was organised by Lichfield Concern for Palestine Group which includes Methodist Minister. Warren Bardsley, a former graduate of EAPPI and often to be encountered at protests at the UAV factory in Shenstone and several Quakers including Anthony Wilson who first proposed that Sumud Palestine be involved. They were supported by the Dean of the Cathedral, the Very Revd Adrian Dorber who is the Diocesan Coordinator for the Friends of the Holy Land.
I think we were all very pleased to make a contribution and one of the organisers congratulated us on our displays in College Hall.