Reflections on the Jewish and Palestinian Voices for Peace Tour

Jonathan Kuttab addressing the crowd in Manhattan Kansas. Kuttab co-Presented with Laura Tillem of JVP. This was one of three stops the two made in Kansas.

For two months, the Jewish and Palestinian Voices for Peace tour traveled to over 20 Mennonite venues across the country. Jonathan Kuttab, a well-known Palestinian Mennonite human rights lawyer, activist and speaker shared the stage with a member of local Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) chapters. JVP is inspired by the Jewish tradition to work for peace, justice, equality and human rights.

Below are brief excerpts from several reflections on the tour.

Jessica Schrock-Ringenberg, pastor at Zion Mennonite Church in Archbold, Ohio

As a congregation and a community, it was a formative experience to have Jonathan Kuttab and Amy Shuster break through some preconceived paradigms … It was helpful for many in our congregation to hear about the unjust occupation and the suffering that it is causing Palestinians, both Christian and Muslim, and that not all Jewish people hold the same unbridled support of the Israeli government. It challenged the notion for us as a community that supporting the nation-state of Israel was a biblical mandate.

It was also meaningful to hear Amy describe the contradictions between our nation’s unwavering support of Israel and the unchecked prejudice she and her family experience here in the United States because they are Jewish. . .

Elaine Cohen, a member of JVP Austin, Texas

Some tour stops highlighted other voices for peace by included traveling displays from the Museum of the Palestinian People (shown here) and the Promised Land Museum: The Jewish Museum of the Palestinian Experience.

Like many other Jewish Americans, I joined JVP after the bombings in Gaza in the summer of 2014. It was then I came to recognize that the phrase, “You can’t consider yourself a progressive and be silent on Palestine,” applied to me. Since the summer of 2014 I have been on a steep learning curve that entails stripping away layers of lies and misrepresentations that I absorbed simply growing up in the USA. Presenting together with Jonathan Kuttab was another opportunity to learn and grow.

Fortunately, the Mennonite church in Austin which hosted us is literally blocks from where I live. I anticipate a growing relationship between that congregation and the local chapter of JVP. There is much that we can do together.

Jane Stoltzfus Buller, pastor at Walnut Hill Mennonite Church in Goshen, Indiana.

It was our pleasure at Walnut Hill Mennonite Church to co-host with Fellowship of Hope the Jewish and Palestinian Voices for Peace Tour. The presentations by both Benjamin Balthasar and Jonathan Kuttab were informative and appropriate for an audience of persons with much understanding and little understanding of peacemaking in Israel-Palestine … I begin to understand more deeply the great need for our support of the marginalized, poor and oppressed so as to empower a just and good peace in the region. This was emphasized by hearing from both a Jewish voice and a Palestinian voice speaking of a commitment to work together for what is just and good for all who live in the region, and to do so non-violently.