West Bank role for Quaker Ken.
A HOLMFIRTH man is to join a mercy mission to Palestine. In January, Ken Hodgson will join an international team helping Palestinians to cope with the hardships of life under Israeli military occupation. The trip coincides with the start of the UN International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. For three months, 64-year-old Ken will be part of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel.
Team members will be living and WORKING alongside Palestinians, protecting them against army incursions and ATTACKS by Israeli hard-liners. The visitors also monitor violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses and report them to UN agencies, diplomats and politicians in governments and the EU.
They support and focus world attention on Israeli and Palestinian peace activists to ensure their safety, increase their credibility and improve their chances of bringing about change. Ken is a QuaKer and the QuaKers in the UK co-ordinate the project through the World Council of Churches. The former Salford University lecturer and environmental health officer will leave behind his wife Elizabeth and their three grown-up children to fly out on January 18 for the three-month trip. "I don't Know where I will be posted. It could be one of the cities, liKe Jerusalem or Bethlehem, or it could be in one of the remote rural areas, which are often more troublesome. "I first became aware of the Palestinian situation when I was WORKING in the oil industry in the Middle East in 1982. I Kept up to date with the situation and once I found the QuaKers had this project, I wanted to get involved.
"It is very much a non-violent and impartial project". He added: "The daily WORK centres around enabling Palestinians to go about their daily lives in a way that we taKe for granted in the UK.
"For example, they accompany children to school and farmers to their fields who are at RISK of violence from Israeli settlers; or help people to access WORK, education and healthcare by monitoring movements through Israeli checKpoints. "This is one of the most bitterly divided regions in the world. As a QuaKer, I'm committed to promoting peace, justice and equality through non-violent social change. By WORKING as an ecumenical accompanier in the West BANK I hope to contribute to alleviating suffering caused by the occupation and to advocate for an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by giving a voice to those who are not usually heard". On returning from the West BanK Ken will write a series of articles and UNDERTAKE a number of SPEAKING engagements based on his experiences.
| MISSION: Ken Hodgson's going to Palestine