Results of WCC-EAPPI evaluation presented
At the WCC Executive Committee meeting in China in November 2016, the results were presented for the wide-ranging evaluation of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), which was established at the request of church leaders in 2002 to engage in peace-building activities. Now, 15 years later, more than 1,800 accompaniers have taken part in the project. The evaluation indicates that 98% take the view that the programme is still relevant and delivers results, that manifestations of violence decrease when EA’s are clearly visible, parents feel that there is security for their children on their way to school, etc. As a result, the programme is one of the biggest initiatives in Palestine and Israel in the humanitarian sector.
The WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit commented: “We learned a great deal from this report about what is needed to redefine the original purpose and profile of this very significant programme for the WCC, as an ecumenical initiative under the WCC, called for by local churches and pursued in close cooperation with member churches and other ecumenical partners. I believe this report and the follow-up will strengthen the programme.”
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Our Model is Accompaniment
We enact our core values by using an internationally recognized model called ‘Accompaniment’.
What is Accompaniment?
- Accompaniment is a theoretical model for humanitarian work in conflict zones.
- It is also a biblical model for acting justly in the way of Christ.
- The legal framework for accompaniment is International Humanitarian Law.
- Accompaniment must combine a strategic local presence with international pressure in order to be effective.
Key principles of Accompaniment
- Protective Presence – Our presence makes the costs of human rights abuses more apparent to the perpetrators, persuades them to act differently, and deters attacks on civilians.
- Monitoring of human rights violations – When presence cannot completely halt human rights violations, we are there to monitor and report these abuses to the United Nations and other human rights agencies.
- Standing with local peace and human rights groups – We help focus global attention on the activities of Israeli and Palestinian peace groups, thereby increasing their credibility and capacity to work for reform.
- Advocacy – Advocacy is the tool for increasing international action for change. We share eyewitness testimonies with faith leaders, decision makers, media, civil society, and business officials, so that they change public policy for the common good. Increased international awareness increases pressure on the perpetrators of human rights abuses and helps protect civilians from these abuses.
- Principled Impartiality - We are not pro-Israeli or pro-Palestinian and we do not take sides in the conflict. We are pro-human rights and international humanitarian law. We do not discriminate against anyone and stand faithfully with the poor, the oppressed, and the marginalized.
- Nonviolence – Nonviolence is a way of living that rejects the use of violence and seeks to bring change through the engagement of individuals and groups peaceful strategies. We believe nonviolence is the only way to a true and lasting solution to conflict. Our actions are nonviolent and we support all people working nonviolently for peace in Israel and Palestine.
The word accompaniment derives from the Latin words ‘com’ and ‘panis,’ meaning ‘with bread.’ Literally, it implies sharing bread with someone. In the Gospel of Luke we find an example of that companionship. Jesus finds two hopeless travelers on their way to Emmaus:
‘We had hope that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.’ That hope had been trampled by the Roman Empire in alliance with local religious authorities.
These defeated followers, now distraught travelers, were ready to give up and move away from the scenery of those painful events. Jesus accompanied them down the road to Emmaus, showed them that hope was alive and accepted their invitation to stay for a while. They recognized Him when he blessed and broke the bread. At that moment, he vanished from their sight.
Three key elements of accompaniment are prominent in this narrative: preaching a word of hope, sharing the basics of life and departing at the right moment to carry on the work elsewhere. This is what our Ecumenical Accompaniers have been doing faithfully since 2002.
Read more in our Theological Reflection on Accompaniment.
Advocacy is an essential component of accompaniment. It reflects our call to accompany our sisters and brothers in humanity who struggle for justice and peace in the context of injustice and violence against fellow human beings and all creation. In this way, we bear one another’s burdens and affirm that all are created in the image of God.