Understanding Competing Narratives in Israel/Palestine

with Max Carter

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“When I have peace within, it is not that I approve of the violence around me. It is when I have the strength to endure suffering, the strength to attept to love all men and women, that I am liberated to work for peace and freedom. Love of one’s enemies is recognition that the enemy too, is a child of God, for if we deny that, we are denying that they can make the very changes we are demanding of them.” 

— Jean Zaru, Ramallah Friends Meeting clerk and founding member of Zabeel

Is it a wall or a fence? Is it a military occupation or disputed territories? Do Palestinians and Israeli settlers live in the West Bank or Judea and Samaria? 

These are but a few of the differences in the “narrative” of the situation in Palestine/Israel, not to mention whether there is a “Palestine” or if Israel is the “Zionist state.” Max Carter will share on these and other issues during our time together exploring Friends’ response historically and currently to Palestine/Israel. 

Max served his alternative service as a Vietnam era conscientious objector at the Friends Schools in Ramallah, a Palestinian city north of Jerusalem. Since his time there 1970-72, he has returned at least two dozen times on service-learning trips that he and his wife Jane lead to introduce people to the realities of the situation.

Through presentations sharing facts, anecdotes, and photos from his trips, we will learn about Quaker involvement in the quest for a just peace. We will also discuss the “competing narratives” within the Palestinian and Israeli communities, and the various individuals and groups on the various “sides” who are doing creative civil resistance to militarism, violence, and the denial of human rights. We will also have ample opportunity to explore our questions about the multifaceted feelings and perspectives of the history of this region.

Please consider doing some advance reading of the following:

  • Jean Zaru’s “Occupied with Nonviolence”
  • Rabbi Michael Lerner’s “Embracing Israel/Palestine”
  • Elias Chacour’s “Blood Brothers”
  • Ben Ehrenreich’s “The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine”


Max Carter, a Vietnam Era Conscientious Objector, did his alternative service in Palestine studying the Palestinian/Israeli situation. In his academic career, Max taught Quaker history and developed Guilford College’s Quaker Leadership Scholars Program, and is recently retired as the William R. Rogers Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College. A recorded Friends minister in North Carolina Yearly Meeting (FUM), he has taught at the Friends Schools in Ramallah, Earlham College, and the Quaker secondary schools in Philadelphia.