From the US-Vietnam War to Palestinian rights: Peacemaker Hostetter reflects

Helena Cobban Antiwar, Blog, Palestine, Peace resources, U.S. policy

In the latest edition of the JWE podcast, you can hear a very rich discussion I conducted November 12 with an inspiring and experienced peacemaker called Doug Hostetter. Listen to it here:

Hostetter is Director of the office that the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) maintains at the United Nations. He has been a peacemaker since the mid-1960s– a time when, as a Conscientious Objector, he performed his “alternative service” with MCC, teaching English in a small village in central Vietnam whose previous school had been destroyed by the US-led war.

That experience set the course for a life of pro-peace activism which in recent years has caused him to focus very substantially on the need for a peace with justice in Israel/Palestine. Hostetter has been a strong friend for our partner publishing company, Just World Books, helping to host book-launch discussions for numerous JWB’s books in the UN “Church Center” building, very close to the UN’s main building in mid-town Manhattan. He also helped connect JWB to Karin Aguilar-San Juan and Frank Joyce, who edited the wonderful anthology The People Make the Peace: Lessons from the Vietnam Antiwar Movement, to which he himself contributed two chapters.

I found the conversation we had in the podcast deeply moving. At one point Hostetter talked about the party his host village in Vietnam threw for him when he came to the end of his three-year teaching tour  there. He said that one of the hosting teachers told him, “‘Doug, you’ve been here holding a small bucket up at the bottom of a waterfall and trying to throw some water back up to the top. But please go home and build a dam.’ He was right. My real work had to be in the United States, working to end the war.”

Later in the conversation, he talked about the first visit he made to Palestine, in the late 1980s. He said he had been smuggled into Gaza where he spent a few nights staying with some Palestinian hosts there– and he noted how familiar the situation felt to “my experience living with Vietnamese peasants under the occupying army there.”

… Please do go and listen to the whole of our conversation.

By the way, we recorded that podcast as one of the preparations we’re making for a big end-of-year fundraising push here at Just World Educational. I hope that after listening to it, you’ll be moved to go to the “Donate” page on our website and make a donation that can help fund the important plans we have for 2017. You can read more about one of our key projects, “Palestinian Milestones 2017”, here.