Before its involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the American Friends Service Committee had delivered relief and political and moral assistance to hundreds of thousands of refugees in Europe and other parts of the world. When war loomed in Palestine, the United Nations looked to the AFSC to nominate a Quaker municipal commissioner for an internationalized Jerusalem, in the expectation that the nominee would be acceptable to both Jews and Arabs. The volunteers encountered numerous obstacles in Palestine and Israel but managed to learn from them and to adapt in ways that contain useful lessons for today's relief workers and peacemakers. In Gaza, the volunteers found themselves in a territory administered by the Egyptian army. The small-scale grassroots advocacy and unofficial diplomacy that the Quakers pioneered in the early years of the conflict remain for many activists—Israeli, Palestinian, and international—the best hope for reconciliation and resolution of the conflict.
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