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

    news article

    UNY Taskforce for Palestine-Israel update

    January 31, 2023 / By Dianne Roe, UNY Taskforce for Palestine-Israel

    Sabri and Heather Al Awawda hosted me (Corning First UMC member Dianne Roe) for five weeks in the fall of 2022 in their home in Al Eizariya( Bethany). I first met Shefa, Sabri’s Grandmother, in 1990 while on a Holy Land trip with Bishop Forrest Stith and laity and clergy from the NY West Area.

    Sabri became like a grandson to me after he moved here and married Heather, his wife from Cincinnati. They were all back in Palestine when Covid hit three years ago. Sabri was diagnosed with cancer a year ago. Folks in Ithaca and Corning who had befriended Sabri when he was here formed a long distance support community. Last October when it looked like Sabri would not survive and Heather was feeling increasingly anxious and isolated, missing friends and family in Cincinnati; the support community in Ithaca and Corning, urged me to go to be with them as Sabri faced additional tests and treatment.

    My trip was made possible with money from the Gary Bergh scholarship fund, a project of our UNY Task Force for Peace with Justice in Palestine/Israel. I was there at a time of unparalleled tension. Israeli soldiers had killed four in Jenin the morning of the day I arrived in late October. I will describe fallout from that in a later report.

    Today, several weeks after returning home from Palestine, the Israeli massacre of nine people in Jenin refugee camp on January 26 has escalated the violence even further. When I talked with Heather and Sabri Saturday tensions were already very high in Al Eizariya. There was a loud noise as we were chatting. Heather turned the camera toward the window in view of the wall that separates Bethany from Jerusalem. Israeli soldiers were throwing tear gas canisters over the wall into Bethany even as we were speaking.

    I am talking with family members a few times a week and will keep UNY updated about the situation there, and about Sabri’s fight against cancer. I am especially worried about their four children.

    For a background on the village where they live, and how a young woman from Cincinnati ended up in Palestine in a war zone, stay tuned for Heather’s compelling piece on her life in Al Eizariya.

    TAGGED / 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."