The Stones Cry Out Solidarity Delegation

Rev. Diane Dulin, member of ORUCC, traveled to the West Bank and Washington DC February 26-March 6. The following is Diane’s report. Read, pray, and consider sharing the link with a friend.

And some of the Pharisees in the multitudes said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”  Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” Luke 19:39-40

The Stones Cry Out Solidarity Delegation to the West Bank and Washington, D.C. consisted of 23 American Christians – faith leaders (both lay and ordained) representing 12 different denominations – who traveled to Palestine to hear the people of that place describe their reality and send us home with a direct and urgent message. Among our delegation were four UCC participants: our trip leader Rev. Dr. Michael Spath of Ft. Wayne, Indiana; Stephanie Gilstrom of Olympia, Washington; Sarah Klokowski of Belmont, Massachusetts; and Rev. Diane Dulin of Madison, Wisconsin.  

Organized by the Indiana Center for Middle East Peace and sponsored by eight nationally recognized advocacy groups1, our delegation met with religious and civil society leaders, Christians and Muslims and Jews, community leaders and everyday residents. We visited a refugee camp, a privately owned farm, churches, non-profit and advocacy NGOs, and public spaces such as the Apartheid Wall and Nelson Mandela Square in Ramallah. We passed through military checkpoints and traveled both Israeli-only highways and Palestinian roads of dirt and stones. 

The message given to us by those we met is this: “The genocide in Gaza is unspeakably horrific. And the violence and strangulation of daily life in the West Bank is crippling. Tell this to your elected officials and public servants in Washington. Tell it to your church leaders. Tell it to your communities back home.”

From those we met, we heard words of fearfulness, anger, grief, and discouragement. Palestinians living in the West Bank feel invisible, abandoned, dehumanized. 

Over and over again, the people we encountered thanked us for coming. They told their stories trusting we, in turn, would return home to speak the truth.

While in the West Bank, we shared lunch at the Tent of Nations farm, owned and worked by the Nasser family, whose deed to the land originated during the Ottoman Empire, long before the founding of the State of Israel. During our meal, two Israeli settlers with semi-automatic rifles strode through the grounds. Upon seeing the two settlers, Daoud Nasser rose, saying, “This is private property.” In response, the settlers made a sweeping gesture as if to take in the entire hillside and proclaimed, “All this belongs to us.” Later, during our advocacy in Washington, D.C., we informed our legislators about settler violence and impunity in the West Bank – always a problem, exponentially worse now, and off the radar for most of the world.

We met with Adam Bouloukos, UNRWA Director for the West Bank.  He told us the humanitarian disaster in Gaza is worse than anything he has seen throughout his long career of first-hand experience with war and disaster. He is worried UNRWA will cease to operate very soon without a reversal of the brutal actions by the United States and other nations to cancel UNRWA funding due to accusations (without evidence) that 12 staff members (out of 13,000 staff in Gaza) were involved in the October 7 attack by Hamas militias. In our meetings with elected representatives in Washington, D.C., we pleaded for resumption of funding for UNRWA.

In Occupied East Jerusalem we visited the Silwan neighborhood. We stood by the rubble of Fahkri Abu Ziab’s family home of generations. His prized home had been demolished by Israel two weeks earlier, on Ash Wednesday, despite legal documents that prove his ownership. He suspects his home was chosen for demolition due to his community leadership and non-violent resistance. Others in the Silwan neighborhood have seen their homes destroyed by Israel to make room for a biblical theme park.

We met with Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac of Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, and worshiped at his church on Sunday morning. Like many others we met, Isaac was perplexed by the brutal, heartless disregard for Palestinian life now on full display by our country. We Americans lavishly fund this genocide with one hand and drop a paltry number of meals from the sky with the other hand. Pastor Isaac was discouraged and angry, insisting that our churches need to do more to oppose this great wrong. In Washington, D.C. we made the case for following US law which prohibits providing military aid to countries engaged in human rights violations.

The Washington, D.C. portion of our journey expanded in size as area activists descended to join us in advocacy and public witness. UCC PIN chair Rev. Dr. Allie Perry joined us for this political advocacy. In addition to our visits with legislators, we held a vigil in front of the White House, and some of us engaged in nonviolent direct action. The next night, some gathered again, joining other protesters to cause a traffic delay and rerouting of the President’s motorcade on its way to the State of the Union speech.  

On our final evening together, we gathered for interfaith worship, joined by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who wept while describing the children of Gaza killed, maimed, orphaned, and starved. Rev. Graylan Hagler of Plymouth UCC in Washington gave us a powerful commission to prove faithful to our promise of conveying the message we received from Palestinians we met – the Living Stones of Palestine. A final benediction was delivered powerfully by Rev. Shari Prestemon, Associate General Minister and Co-Executive of Global Ministries.                                      


1 Sponsors of the Stones Cry Out Solidarity Delegation: