Several local residents were seen sitting under a "wide tent for justice in Israel/Palestine," Oct.3-5, during an interfaith conference on peace in the Middle East at St. James Cathedral in Chicago. The event was sponsored by the Chicago Faith Coalition on Middle East Policy Friends of Sabeel-North America and co-sponsored by a rainbow coalition of other groups, including the Oak Park-based Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine, represented by Rebekah Levin. The Oak Park International Film Festival recently featured CJPIP's documentary Some of My Best Friends Are Zionists.
Other Oak Parkers included Jennifer Bing-Canar whose American Friends Services Committee was helping organize the speakers, including liberation theologians Rabbi Brant Rosen, Rev. Naim Atteek and Dr. Hatem Bazian, who represented the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Their messages of peace and justice were offered in Hebrew, English and Arabic. Presenting a secular perspective was Lake Forest College Professor, Dr. Ghada Talhami, who electrified the crowd with crisp analysis and historical perspective. Adding a unique international racial viewpoint was South African-born Rev. Allan Boesak, a famous anti-apartheid leader and his wife, noted journalist Elna Boesak, both of whom compared South African apartheid (legal racial segregation prior to 1994) to Israeli military occupation.
Oak Park's Prexy Nesbitt, who teaches a South Africa course at Columbia College, joined in the spirited discussion. "Injustice anywhere is a blow to justice everywhere," he said, paraphrasing Dr. Martin Luther King's famous phrase. "The struggle for justice for Palestinians under occupation is one of the most critical struggles for justice anywhere. I'm struck, as I look around this room and see only a couple of African Americans, by how some Zionists try to reach out to Black American preachers to try to neutralize the racial sting of their military oppression in Israel/Palestine."
Meanwhile, at 9 a.m. this Saturday, Oct. 26, the Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine will meet at Oak Park Farmers Market to promote a boycott of the Israeli occupation profiteer SodaStream. Meet at the CJPIP table for leafleting (Lake Street between Scoville and Elmwood). At 10 a.m., there will be a walk through downtown Oak Park to Bed, Bath, and Beyond — a major marketer of SodaStream — where boycott petitions will be delivered. SodaStream, a popular consumer product, is the target of an international boycott campaign because it is manufactured in an illegal Israeli settlement in violation of international law.