May 25, 2019

Tree of Life Hosts Panel in Old Lyme This Afternoon to Discuss Plight of Palestinian Children; Starts at 2pm, All Welcome

Ruba Awadallah

In a forum to be held on Sunday, Oct. 21, in Old Lyme, human rights advocates from Israel, Palestine and the U.S. will describe the harsh circumstances confronting children living under the Israeli military occupation of Palestine, and report on the work of their respective organizations to correct the inherent violations of internationally recognized children’s rights.

Sponsored by the Tree of Life Educational Fund (TOLEF), and open to the public, the forum will be held at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme starting at 2 p.m.  Admission for adults will be $20, students and attendees under 21 will be admitted free of charge. Following the speaker program, refreshments will be served at a crafts and information bazaar.

Speakers headlining the event, entitled “Rachel’s Children,” will include Ruba Awadallah, researcher at Defense for Children International-Palestine; Eran Efrati, investigative reporter and executive director of RAIA (Researching the American-Israeli Alliance); and Lara Kiswani, executive director of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) in San Francisco.   

Eran Efrati

The program title, “Rachel’s Children,” refers to the Biblical figure of Rachel, revered in the three Abrahamic faiths as the archetypal mother who protects her children and greatly mourns their loss. Its relevance to the present was noted by the Rev. David W. Good, founder of TOLEF: “The sound of Rachel weeping for her children echoes today in the cries of Palestinian and Israeli parents yearning for a better future for their children. Rachel has wept for much too long!  The fulcrum of change is with us. The time has come for all of us to respond.” 

Among the many responses encouraged by TOLEF is active support of a bill introduced in the House of Representatives last November by Rep. Betty McCollum (D- Minn) and co-sponsored by 29 colleagues:  H.R. 4391, Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act.  The first bill on Palestinian human rights ever introduced in Congress, H.R.4391 currently awaits consideration and passage by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  Meanwhile, the TOLEF website provides ways in which to express support for the bill’s passage.  (

Ann Perry, the newly-appointed executive director of the Tree of Life Educational Fund will be introduced at the forum. “I’m so looking forward to this program,” she commented. “I often think of Nelson Mandela’s oft-quoted remark, ‘There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.’ “What a privilege we have in welcoming these voices of conscience to Old Lyme.”    

Editor’s Notes: i) For more information about the Tree of Life Educational Fund, visit
ii) For more information on the Oct. 21 program,
iii) The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme is situated at the intersection of Lyme Street and Ferry Road in Old Lyme, CT. 


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