Jeff looks like a cross between Jerry Garcia and Santa Clause and grew up in Hibbing, Minnesota and actually knew Dylan when he was still Zimmerman! Bob is five years older than Jeff and he remembers Bob, "As always quiet, reserved and normal. He came to my high school graduation. His dad had wanted Bob to be a Dr. but later admitted: 'How was I to know he would become Leonard Bernstein? '
Jeff stated that there was something about Israel that spoke to him and so he moved from the USA in 1973 and in 1997 established ICAHD: The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.
"It was at the time when the Oslo peace plan collapsed and the occupation reasserted itself. Many Israeli peace activists began asking Palestinians what the best way to engage with each other was and the answer was blowing in the wind: 'STOP the home demolitions! '
"Since 1967 the Israeli government has destroyed over 2,000 Palestinian homes. 95% of the cases have nothing to do with security. All these homes are on Palestinian private property. The Israeli government will not grant permits for them to build on their own land, and in reality are quietly transferring the Palestinians administratively from the land. They make conditions so intolerable that the Palestinians give up and leave and this is exactly what they are after. Not only do the Palestinians receive no warning when their homes are to be destroyed they are fined $1,500.00!
"I'll get a call at 5 AM from a Palestinian telling me the bulldozers have arrived and we activists go out and engage in civil disobedience by standing up to the bulldozers.
"We also raise funds to rebuild these homes right where they had been before. The reasons for the demolitions are: for The Wall, to establish illegal settlements, build roads and because the Israeli government wants to keep Palestinians confined to the islands [areas A and B] in the West Bank and so Palestinian land remain under the control of the Israeli government. "
American Methodists have contributed $50,000 to rebuild homes and USA Presbyterians, Mennonites and Quakers all support the activities of ICAHD.
Jeff can no longer count how many times he had been arrested and sentenced to community service. His eyes sparkled as he told me, "When I tell the judge I am serving the community they just don 't get it!
"The Israeli government just does not want to take responsibility and the USA government ignores the situation. Do you know why Israel does not want to become America 's 51st state? Because then they would only have two senators!
"Look, Christ was all about justice and love, Jesus was no magician and his message has been lost by Christian Zionists who want Armageddon. They have taken Jesus ' teachings and turned them into a travesty by justifying the occupation. "
A fifteen minute walk from Jeff 's office is a walkup apartment nestled amongst fifty feet high trees of all kinds ' and home to Eliyahu McLean; a Rodef Shalom: a Pursuer of Peace who grew up in Berkeley California.
This past summer thirty six year old McLean brought together 80 Palestinian youth from the Gaza together with Israeli Jews and tapped them into the indigenous Palestinian Reconciliation technique known as Sulha. (www.sulha.com)
Sulha is the indigenous wisdom that is manifested in offering and accepting a simple cup of coffee. Two tribes who may have been feuding for generations, or even a divorcing couple will wake up and desire to reconcile. One will offer a cup of coffee to the other and acceptance fulfills the obligation. But the 'war '/bad feelings continue on.
A second cup is offered and if accepted goes beyond what is required.
The third cup begins the bargaining process and in the end a physical embrace or handshake confirms the reconciliation.
Then a Hafla: a celebration; a three day party is thrown by the stronger one who offers hospitality. No court is ever needed.
Eliyahu wears tie dyed clothes and has an eclectic music collection. From Arabic Beats to Miles Davis, Chants of Jewish Shamans and The Beatles. When asked to define his spirituality he stated: "I am a Flexadox Jew, I am flexible and open, but remain orthodox. "