In 1948, AFSC staffers familiar with the Middle East spent two months travelling the capitols of the region. They sought points of consensus with leaders amenable to a peaceful settlement for all parties. The detailed trip report informed our hesitant acceptance of the UN’s urgent request that we manage relief services for 200,000 Palestinians in Gaza. The report called the Palestinians “refugees fleeing from refugees.”
The Archives offers extensive documentation of both our efforts to support Palestinians in an untenable situation, and our quiet diplomacy to end conflict and build a lasting peace for the region. The majority of resources were written by the staff and participants in the first-person, as they were unfolding.
Quaker International Affairs Representatives (QIARs) maintained encounter-by-encounter logs of their travels, which reveal efforts to spark dialogue and compromise on all sides. Periodic fact-finding missions, conferences, and listening tours—often interfaith in composition—have generated white papers, reports, and situation analyses. Many help bring clarity to a tangled web of accusations and misunderstanding about AFSC's actions in the region.
On the programmatic front, AFSC started the first legal aid clinic for Palestinians living under Israeli occupation, which now functions independently. Similarly, we initiated the Gaza Pre-School Activity Centers Program under an agreement with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinians. The kindergarten program is also now independent. Agricultural assistance programs in the 1950s were also geared towards modernization and building self-sufficiency within Palestinian communities in the new state of Israel. Letters, funding requests, budgets and brochures shine a light on the emergence and maturation of all of these projects.
For more information on AFSC's ongoing work in Israel and Palestine, visit our Key Issues page, Advocating for peace in Israel-Palestine.