When the Quaker Dudes, the men’s group of Annapolis Friends Meeting, learned there was to be an international peace conference on Israel and Palestine in Annapolis in November, they suggested that the Meeting bring over peace activists from both countries who could speak on their promotion of the Geneva Accord, an unofficial accord reached by official negotiators who refused to stop work after the last negotiations were deemed a failure.
Nadil Faqaha from Palestine and Mossi Raz from Israel spoke to a large crowd at a downtown church on the eve of the official conference. The transcript can be read on our Web site at http://annapolis.quaker.org. Nadil, a Muslim, and Mossi, a Jew, stayed together for several days at a Friend’s home, sat together at Meeting for Worship, and together visited Congressional staff to educate them about the Geneva Accord.
Annapolis Friends Meeting is forming a Peace and Justice Center and the events above could be considered its first activity. We are hoping to sponsor some Israeli and Palestinian students for a semester and to form sister city relationships between Annapolis and Israeli and Palestinian cities. We also are looking at how we might bring conflict resolution skills to our community. American Friends Service Committee-Middle Atlantic Region staff have been meeting with us as we develop our ideas for the Center.
In September we sponsored a program called “Get to Know Your Muslim Neighbors.” The Imam and members of the local Mosque showed a movie and answered questions on Islam. This program attracted one of the largest crowds that had ever been in our Meeting House. After the program, numerous people asked the Imam to speak to their groups or to let them borrow the movie, including the FBI agents who had attended!
Also in September was the dedication of a peace pole, with members of various religious groups participating. It was held on the International Day of Peace, and visitors joined Friends in a silent vigil for peace.
In October, we participated in a Celebration of Faith Communities and Good Works, where we highlighted our peace pole, generating many requests for information on how to order one.