This Sunday, two Ithacans will travel to the Occupied Territories to serve as international observers and advocates of peace. Audrey Stewart, a local carpenter, and Grace Ritter are two members of a five person delegation — which is loosely affiliated with the Catholic Worker and International Solidarity — traveling to Israel and Palestine.
The group intends to work with Israeli, Palestinian and International peace activists to protect Palestinian civilians from recent Israeli military aggression.
“We’re going there because we support a lasting and just peace that comes from a situation that equally [honors] the power of self-determination of both groups,” said Stewart in reference to the recent Israeli military occupation of Palestinian-ruled areas.
Stewart said that the peace activists are not against the Israeli state but are advocates of a just peace in which all lives are respected. She also suggested that a just peace would make Israel and more safe and secure state because it could potentially decrease Palestinian aggression.
In spite of warnings by the State Department advising Americans not travel to the dangerous region, the group will fly into Israel on an Italian airline on Sunday before commencing their trip throughout the region.
“It’s definitely a risky situation but I feel like it’s really necessary. As Americans, especially white Americans, our risk is much lower,” Stewart said.
The group intends to spend at least one night in Jerusalem and then proceed to travel throughout the region as circumstances allow, hoping to make their way to Bethlehem, Stewart said.
“We [hope] to provide protection that international presence almost always provides… in a certain way we feel it’s our responsibility as Americans, [as Americans] are providing military aid to the Israelis,” Stewart said.
Additionally, they will carry laptops and cell phones and they plan to release their observations to the press.
A gathering will be held at the Autumn Leaves Bookstore in Ithaca Commons on Saturday night at 6 p.m. where well-wishers can offer their support for Stewart and Ritter.
Archived article by Laura Rowntree