Quaker witness on Israel/Palestine has taken many forms over many decades of involvement by individual Friends and Quaker organizations, bringing both praise and intense criticism. Throughout this period, there has often been strong disagreement between those who have stressed a need to focus on working towards reconciliation between these two historically-oppressed peoples claiming the same land as theirs, and those who, in recognition of the asymmetry in power between the occupiers and those under occupation, have stressed a need for more explicit advocacy on behalf of the Palestinians. How might Friends here in the United States best address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, particularly in light of the important role played by the U.S. government? How might we be more sensitive to anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and anti-Arab racism? Is there a unique role Friends can fill in the quest for peace and justice?
Stephen Zunes is a professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, where he serves as coordinator of the program on Middle Eastern Studies. Recognized as one the country’s leading scholars of U.S. Middle East policy and of strategic nonviolent action, Professor Zunes serves as a senior policy analyst for the Foreign Policy in Focus project of the Institute for Policy Studies, an associate editor of Peace Review, and a contributing editor of Tikkun. He is member of the Quaker Palestine/Israel Network and has served as a staffmember, committee member, and/or volunteer on Middle East concerns with the American Friends Service Committee, Friends General Conference, and the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.