Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, September 2012, Page 63

Waging Peace

Friends of Sabeel DC Barbecue

(L-r) Melinda Thompson, Monica Burnett, Steve France and Paul H. Verduin, posing as IDF guards, can’t agree whether to let Alan Goldstein (in red) pass through a simulated checkpoint. (Staff photo D. Hanley)

While some organizations promote solidarity and encourage networking by holding lavish galas, Friends of Sabeel DC Metro was able to accomplish the same thing at a July 14 summer potluck barbecue hosted by Susan Bell at her home in Alexandria, VA.

But first each of the guests working for peace and justice in Palestine-Israel had to pass through Bill Plitt's simulated Israeli checkpoint—no easy task, since it was a little too much like the real thing. Organizers issued each guest a note card describing his or her situation: a pregnant mother with a 6-year-old child, a sick man going to the hospital, a young person trying to get to work... Then officious Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers interrogated guests, often turning them away or requiring more documentation. Frustrated attendees bit back sharp retorts, or smiled eagerly trying to comply with the guards' unreasonable demands—hoping to gain admittance to the party without provoking the cocky and arbitrary guards.

When guests were later asked how they felt trying to get past the checkpoint, and experiencing a daily fact of life in the occupied Palestinian territories, a provocative conversation ensued. In fact, despite a summer downpour, guests enjoyed catching up with local movers and shakers involved in the peace movement. They left feeling motivated and recharged (not to mention very full) after enjoying an afternoon spent in solidarity with others working for peace.

   —Delinda C. Hanley

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