Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach Archive

When children can’t go to school

Before we know it, summer routines will end and children will return to school. But for more than 500,000 Palestinian children throughout the Middle East, schools may not be able to open in the fall. It has been five months since the U.S. announced it would be withholding most of its funding from the U.N. agency that provides services to Palestinian refugees. In addition to operating nearly 700 schools, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) provides food assistance, health care and other services to Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. It is unclear […]

The right to live

January 19, 2018 Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach

The right to live By Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach “We are human beings. We need the right to live,” a Syrian Palestinian family told me when I visited Lebanon several years ago. The family was receiving a food voucher from Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) that helped them buy basic items like rice, oil and bread. Unable to work legally in Lebanon, the family depended on a small stipend from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to help pay their rent. But that stipend had been reduced recently due to lack of funds. Now UNRWA faces yet more funding cuts. […]

After ISIS, now what?

November 3, 2017 Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach

After ISIS, now what? By Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach Last winter Rafee, his wife and sons received heating fuel through a program supported by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Syria. In 2015, their hometown had been attacked by ISIS, and eventually the family fled to another village. There they struggled to pay for rent and medication, so they were grateful for the fuel assistance provided by the church. Rafee’s last name is withheld for security reasons. Syrians like Rafee long for an end to the conflict that has engulfed their country since 2011. With the next round of negotiations scheduled for […]

Counting calories in Gaza

October 20, 2017 Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach

Counting calories in Gaza By Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach October 16 marked World Food Day. In Gaza, a small slice of land home to two million Palestinians, 80 percent of people rely on international humanitarian assistance. Nearly 1 in 2 do not have enough to eat on a regular basis. Gaza’s humanitarian crisis is due primarily to the blockade that has been imposed by Israel. For centuries the residents of Gaza have relied on the sea as a source of food and income. But Israeli restrictions prevent Gazan fishing boats from traveling more than six nautical miles from shore, and often […]

Why oppose a popular airstrike?

Why oppose a popular airstrike? By Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach  On the night of April 6, the U.S. attacked a Syrian military installation with 59 missiles. President Trump said that the airstrike was in response to a chemical weapons attack a few days earlier in Idlib province. Many members of Congress immediately came out in support of the airstrike, saying it was a proportional response and what the U.S. should have done after a chemical weapons attack in 2013. This favorable response was echoed by many in the media as well. With so many eager to support this show of force, […]

Threat or friend?

February 17, 2017 Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach

By Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach As I read through the U.S. president’s executive orders on immigrants and refugees, I was immediately struck by the overall framing: immigrants and refugees are security threats to be feared, not human beings to be welcomed. The order stopping the refugee program opens with the obligation to “protect the American people from terrorist attacks,” although the three-judge panel that halted the order noted that there is no evidence that anyone from “the countries named in the order has perpetrated a terrorist attack in the United States.” The order on border security says that undocumented immigrants “present […]

O little town of Amona

December 16, 2016 Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach

O little town of Amona By Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach At this time of year the hearts and minds of many Christians turn toward the “little town” of Bethlehem. Bethlehem still exists today as a Palestinian city in the West Bank, under Israeli military occupation. But recently the little “town” of Amona has been getting more attention. Amona is an “outpost,” housing about 40 families near the Israeli settlement of Ofra in the West Bank. Amona was started in 1995, with settlers placing three caravans on land taken from private Palestinian landowners. After 20 years of legal wrangling, the outpost still […]

The forgotten parts of the Syria crisis

September 16, 2016 Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach

The forgotten parts of the Syria crisis By Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach On the International Day of Peace, September 21, Mennonite Central Committee U.S., along with other organizations, is sponsoring a “Global Day of Action and Prayer for Syria.” In addition to events that day in New York City, local congregations are encouraged to use the materials to pray and act for peace. As we have worked at planning this event, we have sought to keep the focus on calling for an end to the war in Syria—calling on all parties to cease the violence and urging a negotiated solution. Many, […]

No Way to Treat a Child

By Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach In the documentary “Detaining Dreams,” Abed, a 15-year-old Palestinian, tells how he was arrested by Israeli soldiers at gunpoint in his home while sleeping and then was taken away, handcuffed and blindfolded. While in detention he was beaten, interrogated and placed in solitary confinement before eventually being released on bail. Abed’s story is not unique. At the end of April (the most recent numbers available), more than 400 Palestinian youth were being detained by the Israeli military. A recent report showed that three-quarters of children who are detained experience physical violence after their arrest. Two separate […]

Five years later – The war in Syria

by Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach It has been five long years since the terrible war in Syria started. More than 250,000 Syrians have been killed. More than half of Syria’s population have been displaced from their homes, and 13.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Alaa* and his family are just some of the many who have been affected. Originally from the city of Aleppo, the family fled the war two years ago; several generations of family members now live in a small, crowded space in Amman, Jordan. They are among more than 630,000 Syrian refugees now living in […]