International Peacemaker hopes to shed new light on Palestine

Areej Masoud inhabits a world full of challenges

by Rick Jones | Presbyterian News Service
Areej Masoud, 2016 Presbyterian International Peacemaker. (Photo provided)

Areej Masoud, 2016 Presbyterian International Peacemaker. (Photo provided)

LOUISVILLE – For Areej Masoud, life is anything but easy. The Bethlehem, Palestine native is in the midst of transition, having just left her position as communications and administrative officer for Kairos Palestine, a Christian organization working to end the Israeli occupation. She is now the marketing and development officer for Bethlehem Bible College.

Her new duties will include communications work, public relations, fundraising and project management for the college.

“Even though I am changing my position, it does not mean I am abandoning the Kairos movement,” she said. “The Kairos Document will always be a part of me. It changed by perspective on my Christian-Palestinian identity. I am also still a Kairos Palestine Ambassador, and will continue to volunteer my time with Kairos.”

Masoud previously worked with Seeds of Hope in Jericho and as a religious studies teacher for grades seven to ten in Jerusalem. She has training in international human rights, humanitarian law and conflict resolution, and has spoken on the Kairos Document in Norway and the United States. She also speaks Arabic, English and a bit of French.

Masoud is one of ten International Peacemakers who will be speaking at Presbyterian churches and presbyteries over the next several weeks across the U.S. She wants to share some of the challenges she faces with the congregations she meets.

“Living under occupation is an unusual circumstance for most human beings. It has uprooted many indigenous Palestinian Christians from their land looking for better opportunities,” she said. “That is one of our main challenges, to bring hope and life in such difficult circumstances.”

Masoud says some media outlets have convinced people that the Israeli occupation is something Palestinians deserve.

“Some churches have been convinced that it is God’s plan for the Palestinians to suffer the way we do and that is acceptable because it’s God’s plan,” she said. “Fixing the deformed image of God is a challenge we face, either to fix it for local Palestinians or for internationals.”

Despite the challenges, Masoud says she is happy to see the change in people’s lives at Bethlehem Bible College.

“We commit to academic excellence and our students have to work to reach that level. We assist people and students in finding their faith, hope and love within the Palestinian context,” she said. “Seeing the thirst that is in people who come to us and being able to meet their needs is very rewarding.”

As she travels over the next month, Masoud hopes people will see the need of a just and socially responsible peace in the region.

“A huge change in stereotypes is highly needed, a change that will lead to making friends and understanding supporters of justice,” she said. “I hope that through my tour, people will understand the danger of the occupation. No matter how the media tries to form the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, it is not based on religion, but on political Zionism.”

Masoud is hopeful she can shed light on the work that is taking place across Palestine.

“Only through awareness and hard work can we hope to make a change and give opportunity to the oppressed to have a dignifying life,” she said. “I’m hopeful that through this program, we will see a return of holiness to what was the Holy Land.”

The International Peacemakers will be visiting the U.S. between September 23 and October 17. Other peacemakers will be coming from:

  • Cuba
  • Colombia
  • Ghana
  • Hungary
  • Iraq
  • Israel/Palestine
  • Kenya
  • Niger
  • Syria/Armenia

The Presbyterian Peacemaking Program has been inviting leaders from partner denominations and organizations to visit the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for more than 30 years. As many as 57 countries have been represented by the speakers as they travel to churches, synods and presbyteries. Peacemaker visits are made possible by gifts to the Peace & Global Witness Offering.

Click here for more information about the 2016 Peacemakers.

Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

  • Subscribe to the PC(USA) News

  • Interested in receiving either of the PC(USA) newsletters in your inbox?