The Israel-Palestine Working Group of New England Yearly Meeting (IPWG) has been meeting since 2015, primarily to plan programs at Yearly Meeting Sessions about Palestine-Israel. During those gatherings, we have now organized and facilitated over 40 programs including slideshows and movies about the region, workshops, speakers, a Gaza pinwheel display from the American Friends Service Committee, photographic displays, and informal lunch sessions. Most recently we have concentrated on helping write and distribute minutes (statements) from monthly and quarterly meetings.
In 2021 the Permanent Board of New England Yearly Meeting formed a new group using our former name so we’ve renamed ourselves:
QUAKERS ADVOCATING JUSTICE FOR PALESTINIANS (QAJP)
We are a small, active, dedicated group from different regions within New England. Most of us have visited Palestine-Israel numerous times and have been active on related issues for nearly two decades.
Our goals are to foster comprehension of the constantly shifting political landscape, encourage Quaker and individual action, ultimately to contribute to a just peace in Palestine-Israel. One vehicle for this is strong fair minutes from NEYM and our constituent monthly and quarterly meetings.
Our two most recent projects—other than fostering minutes supporting Palestinian human rights—have been organizing a memorial travel fund to honor two of our group’s founders, Joyce Rawitscher and Sandy Isaacs, and his wife Nancy Issacs, and promoting the new book Light in Gaza: Writings Born of Fire. The fund will support New England Quakers traveling to Palestine-Israel to later report on their discoveries. Click here for an application form. Click here for a list of delegations Memorial Fund recipients might use, also of value to others contemplating travel to the region. The book is by the American Friends Service Committee and published by Haymarket Press.
Cliff Bennett (VT) who is in Palestine-Israel until mid November 2022, Anita Rapone (Burlington Meeting, VT), Scott Rhodewalt (Northeast Kingdom Meeting, VT), Steve McKnight (Wellesley Meeting), and Skip Schiel (Friends Meeting at Cambridge, MA).
Sandy Isaacs was a key founding member active until his death in January 2019, and Joyce (McKelvey) Rawitscher was an earlier important founding member, active until her death in November 2016. We honor and commemorate Charles Simpson, an active member of our group, who died on May 3, 2021 of pancreatic cancer. Charles was instrumental to justice for Palestinians thru, among other ways, his service on the American Friends Service Committee Corporation. Martha Yager, former staff person for the American Friends Service Committee, significantly helped us in our first years.
We are a volunteer working group in New England. We are related to the Quaker Palestine Israel Network (QPIN), the Palestine Israel Action Group (Ann Arbor Monthly Meeting), and the currently dormant Quakers with a Concern for Palestine-Israel, (Ann Arbor Monthly Meeting).
We participated in the New England Yearly Meeting sessions in August 2022, held in Castleton Vermont and online. Here’s our 2022 program.
Our lives are love, and peace, and tenderness; and bearing one with another, and forgiving one another, and not laying accusations one against another, but praying one for another, and helping one another up with a tender hand.
—Isaac Penington, 1667