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A Christian Cry for Peace in Palestine

I participated in “The Stones Cry Out Solidarity Delegation from Palestine to Washington, D.C.” in March 2024. The delegation included twenty-three American Christians from twelve different denominations across the United States. Although most were pastors, I am a layperson.

The first act of love is to listen, so in Palestine we met with seventeen Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious and civil society leaders to hear their stories. We traveled extensively in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Ramallah, and Hebron.

We then flew to Washington, D.C., to meet with over seventy of our congressional representatives in order to relay what we heard from our Palestinian brothers and sisters.

Graffiti on an electrical box, illustrated with a grimacing face and reading 'Free Palestine'
Graffiti found in Olympia

Our Plea for Peace

Before we met with the elected representatives our group wrote a statement. Here is my shortened version:

We grieve for all those who have been killed in this war, including the victims of the Hamas attack in Israel. We condemn the existing situation in Palestine and acknowledge that United States’ policies have failed to bring about peace and have supported Israel’s violation of international laws for human rights.

Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza has sparked international outrage and calls by humanitarian agencies for an immediate ceasefire. According to a recent poll, most American voters want our government to call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and to condition military aid to Israel on its compliance with human rights laws.

The United States is complicit in some of the conditions leading up to the Hamas attack on October 7, 2023, especially by supporting Israel’s suffocating seventeen-year blockade on Gaza and its dangerous, illegal belligerence in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. In the words of a prominent Christian leader we met in Jerusalem, “We are facing a slow-moving death machine in Palestine.”

People everywhere yearn for equality and self-determination. Israel and the United States condemn Palestinian violence, and rightfully so, but they also condemn non-violent resistance by Palestinian activists. One speaker told our delegation that he was arrested and tortured on October 8, 2023, for participating in a non-violent demonstration. Another man’s house was demolished because he spoke out against the destruction by Israelis of his neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem.

Almost one million illegal Israeli settlers have moved to the occupied West Bank. Over 350 roadblocks curtail the free movement of Palestinians in their own land. Almost all—85%–of Israel’s 500 miles of separation wall is located in the West Bank. Most Palestinian people are subject to Israeli military law and have no civil rights.

There must be an end to Israel’s illegal colonization of Palestinian land. The Palestinians demand an equitable two-state solution. They must have a sovereign, independent, nation state or else there will continue to be suffering and unrest in the region. There must be an urgent end to Israel’s systematic discrimination, oppression and the crime of apartheid against the Palestinians. The peace and security of the Israelis depends on the peace and security of the Palestinians.

A long version of this statement is at

Continuing Advocacy

Since my return to Olympia, like other The Stones Cry Out delegates, I have continued to speak in this community and in online interviews about what I learned on my twelve-day journey. We also still advocate with federal officials, such as our meeting on April 9, 2024, with Andrew Miller, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israeli-Palestinian Affairs. Our urgent demands go beyond an end to the current war in Gaza. Here are the five policy recommendations we made to Mr. Miller:

1. That the U.S. support a resolution to the United Nations calling for an immediate unconditional ceasefire.

2. That the U.S. restore funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) and insist on massive humanitarian and reconstruction so that all Gazans can return to their cities, towns and villages.

3. That the Biden administration assert its opposition to Israel’s settlement enterprise as inconsistent with international law and an obstacle to peace, and that the U.S. condition its military aid to Israel on verifiable steps by Israel to end settler violence, illegal taking of land, restrictions on movement, and interference with commerce, agriculture, and access to healthcare.

4. That the Biden administration attach end-use restrictions to shipments of offensive arms to Israel, limiting how they can be used (as he has done in the case of Ukraine), and as eight senators have recently urged, enforce the U.S. law that ends military support to any country that is found to restrict, directly or indirectly, the transport or delivery of U.S. humanitarian assistance.

5. Finally, that the administration undertake a thorough evaluation of its policy toward Israel, conditioning aid to Israel on cessation of its miliary occupation of Palestinian lands and on steps to dismantle Israel’s apartheid laws and structures.

Another Way to Bear Witness

Because space and time are limited, in the next issue of WIP I will publish an article that describes some of my most memorable personal experiences as part of The Stones Cry Out delegation.

To learn more about conditions in the West Bank, I recommend watching the film The Law and the Prophets at

Olympia resident Stephanie Gilstrom is active in a Christian church, has lived in Egypt, and volunteers with the American Red Cross at natural disaster sites as a mental health clinician.

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