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    United Methodists of Upper New YorkLiving the Gospel. Being God's Love.

    news article

    Commentary: Where is he?

    December 7, 2023 / By Dianne Roe / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Dianne Roe is a member of First United Methodist Church of Corning and wrote the following reflection on behalf of the Upper New York Task Force for Peace with Justice in Palestine-Israel which is part of Social Holiness. Dianne drew the sketch below from an Instagram photo sent out from Gaza during the bombing in 2014. She reflects on this as she processes the present catastrophe, which at the time of this writing, has killed over 17,000 Gazans, including over 7000 children.

    I looked at the photo that my friend had received on Instagram from a photographer in Gaza. It was the Summer of 2014 and in the course of a month and a half Israeli bombing had killed 2200, including 500 children. When I do a sketch from a photo, I like to give credit to the photographer. Was the photographer still alive? What about the little boy carrying his baby brother? What happened to them? I did not know. I sketched them anyway. 

    I was unable to find out anything more about the boy. But he remained with me. He became the human face of suffering children around the world. He looks to be about eight. If he was eight in 2014, he would have been 12 in 2018 when the young people of Gaza organized a non-violent protest called the “Great March of Return.” Did he take part?  What were his dreams as a 12-year-old? Is he still looking after his younger brother? Can he envision any path toward peace? 

    I thought of him again this past month. If he is still alive, he would be around 17—old enough to be a fighter if he had no hopes of anything else. Was he a fighter? Did he care whether he lived or died? Could it have been different? 

    I spent 14 years (1995-2009) with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), now Community Peacemaker Teams in Hebron-Al Khalil. My work with CPT was a conference (North Central New York at the time) advance special and was supported in part by a grant from the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM). We saw what it was like when families had their homes demolished because they were living under military occupation, and the occupation forces had the power to offer or deny permits for building a home on land that had been in the Palestinian family for generations. We felt what it was like when soldiers came in the middle of the night and abducted family members without charges and imprisoned them indefinitely. 

    What could we do? What could we say? Very little. But the least we could do was the small thing they asked of us. “Don’t forget us. Tell our stories.” I have tried to do that. I was a witness. Witness is more than just seeing—witness means telling others what you saw. Witness is truth-telling. And now I see children writing their names on their arms when they hear the bombing outside and they know they are about to die. “Don’t forget us. Tell our stories.” 

    Even as I speak, and as I write, I am hearing from friends in Hebron, Masafer Yatta, and Bethlehem who have been true to a pledge of non-violence. Yet one is in prison, another’s son has just been taken off to prison, and in Masafer Yatta, militant settlers have taken over, threatening to kill those who remain in their villages. 

    How do I find a space for their voices to be heard? I shall dig out whatever spaces I can find and attempt to share the story. It is the least I can do. 

    What can we do? 

    PRAY -both privately and publicly in silence and in writing for an end to violence. 

    SUPPORT calls for government officials to work for a ceasefire: 

    1. sign petitions to Congress (ask the Task Force to forward e-mails for this) 
    2. mail post cards to President Biden to support ceasefire (available - PCAP) 
    3. have a church or Women’s group “call-in party” or “writing party” to reps or senators about ceasefire for humanitarian aid and space for talks & plans. 

    CONTRIBUTE much-needed financial aid to UNRWA, UMCOR, ANERA, for Gaza. 

    This reflection is part of the Task Force’s ongoing mission to share with the churches the need to be concerned for peace with justice for all peoples in Palestine/Israel. Visit the Task Force's website here or find them on social media here.  

    More information may be obtained from the Task Force Leadership Team:   
    Rev. Merle Showers: 
    Linda Bergh: 
    Rev. Gary Doupe: 
    Karen Peterson: (607) 739-3141 

    For information about the situation and background from the author, email Dianne Roe at

    TAGGED / Peace with Justice / Taskforce for Palestine Israel

    With more than 100,000 members, United Methodists of Upper New York comprises of more than 675 local churches and New Faith Communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our vision is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."