In November, AFSC Iowa organized a statewide speaking tour for Daoud Nassar, a Palestinian Christian pacifist whose “Tent of Nations” group nonviolently struggles for land rights for Palestinians. AFSC’s “Organize the Hope” fellows at Central College in Pella used the Nassar tour as their kick-off event to engage students in their campus organizing efforts. The room overflowed with students and community members.
Scattergood Friends School in West Branch provided an especially enjoyable experience for Daoud. He was surprised by the students informed questions and compared favorably their knowledge base and questions to that of students at the University of Iowa. The students were excited by the exchange with Daoud and gathered enthusiastically around him when the class was over. Daoud and students agreed to set up a communication exchange between the Scattergood students and the youth at the Tent of Nations.
In Des Moines, clergy and laity joined Daoud for a luncheon at AFSC. A clergy member from a local church was so moved by the Tent of Nations story that she shared it with a youth group with whom she works, and that group is now planning to travel to Palestine to work in one of the Tent of Nations Projects.
Picking up on the postcard initiative coming out of the AFSC Chicago office in the days leading up to the president’s announcement about troop increases for Afghanistan, AFSC’s Iowa office made a large banner and displayed it at the US Federal Building in Des Moines, the annual Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner attended by Vice President Joe Biden, and outside the Des Moines Valley Friends Meeting.
Hundreds of people saw the sign and received a postcard with call-in information to the White House. After the Democrats’ dinner, a couple people shared our postcard with Biden, who said he agreed with our position.
Earlier in November, Zoya, a speaker from the Revolutionary Association of Afghan Women (RAWA), addressed a public forum at the Des Moines Public Library. Her message? “We oppose fundamentalism – religious and military.”