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The World Acting Globally

Students in Israel-Palestine Club Seek “Hope for the Holy Land”

Ambassadors for Peace

By Kelsey Chase | Photo by Luke Rutan

In May 2015, the Israel-Palestine Club hosted an art show in the Seattle Pacific Art Center.In May, the Israel-Palestine Club hosted an art show in the Seattle Pacific Art Center with visual art, music, song, spoken word, and prayers for peace. Club officer Meredith Adams ’15 helped to organize the event.

As a freshman at Seattle Pacific University, Steven Zulim attended an extra-credit event on Israel and Palestine, encouraged by Professor of English Doug Thorpe.

“I went into it thinking I’d know about half the material,” Zulim says. “But the speaker had maps with redrawn lines, settlement locations, where things had moved, and what it meant. It was way more eye-opening and interesting than I anticipated.”

Now a senior, Zulim just served a year as president of SPU’s Israel-Palestine club, a group of students who share an interest in the Holy Land and a desire for reconciliation in one of the oldest conflicts on the globe. The club aims to educate the Seattle Pacific student body about the conflict, which they do by hosting quarterly discussions, prayer gatherings, guest speakers, and film screenings.

“I didn’t even know where Palestine was until I came to SPU and went to a meeting,” club officer Meredith Adams ’15 says. “I’m still surprised by how many students don’t know what’s going on.”

The club’s approach is ecumenical, and its charter describes its members as “pro-Israeli, pro-Palestinian, pro-peace, projustice, and pro-Jesus.” This is evident in the events it brings to campus, such as World Vision’s Hope for the Holy Land Tour, which drew upward of 50 SPU students in November 2014. The tour features speakers from both Israeli and Palestinian perspectives who discuss how American Christians can be a positive force for peace.

A few months later, Zulim, Adams, and three other club members traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend the first-ever Millennial Voice for Peace Advocacy Summit, also sponsored by World Vision. As the club’s advisor, Thorpe also attended.

“It was inspiring to see students from evangelical colleges coming together to advocate on behalf of both Israelis and Palestinians,” Thorpe says. “It is the young people, especially the young evangelicals, who have power around this issue.”

The students who attended spent three days deepening their knowledge of the conflict between Israel and Palestine and drafting a statement of principles to direct their advocacy. On the final day, they visited Capitol Hill to lobby congressional representatives, including Rep. Jim McDermott of Seattle.

“Being in D.C. opened my eyes to the whole world of advocacy,” Adams says. “Representatives in Congress told us, ‘your voice speaks for thousands like you.’”

The club is planning to send representatives to the summit again next year, as well as a potential trip to the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference in Palestine. They say they hope these trips can provide an example for SPU students interested in reconciliation.

“I was pretty discouraged by the events in Israel and Palestine over the summer, but going to the conference gave me hope, a Christ-like view,” Zulim says. “Regardless of the hurdles, God calls us to be peacemakers.”