Sunday, March 14, 2010

Reunion in Jenin

I left early this morning with Rabbi Brian Walt (former director of Rabbis for Human Rights and founder of Fast for Gaza) for Jenin, the Palestinian Fair Trade Association Offices and the Canaan Fair Trade facility. It was an "interesting" ride from Jerusalem to Ramallah and then to Jenin via a road which read "Road closed to Jenin". We made it though, and our introduction to PFTA and the Canaan Fair Trade facility was wonderful. I went to Jenin specifically to shoot enough video and stills to create a 5-7 minute introduction to PFTA and Zatoun olive oil, a product I hope more churches and synagogues will market in their congregations. More about that later.

The totally unexpected surprise came, though, as the small group that gathered to learn about the Association began introducing ourselves. When we got to a man I thought I recognized he told us he was a chiropractor from a kibbutz near Haifa called Harduf. I suddenly realized this was the man who rescued me several years ago from the Jalameh checkpoint where the soldiers had refused to allow me to return to Israel and a group I was to meet in Nazareth. It was Harry Finkbeiner! Without any display of anger Harry had argued with the soldiers for a good hour and a half until they finally released me. It was the most elegant display of negotiating and peacemaking skills I have ever witnessed. Harry apparently recognized me at the same moment I recognized him, and we both erupted in howls of laughter and joy ... and repeated hugs. What a gift to know Harry Finkbeiner who was my saint-at-the-checkpoint is still working for justice and peace in Israel/Palestine!

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