Not Defined by Despair | 2009 Eyewitness Palestine Delegate Kate Gould Works to Influence US Policy in the Middle East
Kate Gould, legislative associate for Middle East Policy at Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), brings a steadfast, inclusive and focused voice to discourse around Middle East policy. Under relentless questioning by Fox News television host Bill O’Reilly about her vision for a political solution to the Islamic State incursion, Kate held her own. Her grounded demeanor in attempting to answer O’Reilly’s question while under his verbal fire exemplified Kate’s deep belief in nonviolence.
Kate’s interest in Middle East issues began while she was an undergraduate at Western Washington University organizing against the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. That work led to a job with FCNL as legislative program assistant. A visit to Palestine/Israel with Eyewitness Palestine (then called Interfaith Peace-Builders) in 2009 expanded her understanding of the region.
“The Interfaith Peace-Builders delegation introduced me to a whole Israel/Palestine that I didn’t know existed even though I’d been working on Israel/Palestine advocacy up to that point,” Kate said. “Interfaith Peace-Builders introduced me to an Israel/Palestine that wasn’t defined by despair. So many incredible and inspiring grassroots activists and people – both Palestinians and Israelis – are involved in the movement to end the Occupation and find a just solution. It was uplifting.”
After her Eyewitness Palestine trip, Kate lived in the West Bank, teaching advanced English to Palestinian schoolteachers from rural and underserved schools, and coordinating a joint Israeli-Palestinian radio show for a think tank in Jerusalem. Now with FCNL, Kate works to influence US policy in the Middle East. In her work, she continues to share the stories of people she met on her Eyewitness Palestine delegation. “I talk about those stories to emphasize that there’s a lot of variety of viewpoints that they don’t always hear about,” she said. “It’s particularly impactful for Members of Congress and their staff to hear about Israelis who have a different vision going forward about the Occupation.”
During challenging times working on Palestine/Israel, Kate is sustained by the dedication of activists she met through IFPB, and others like them. “Interfaith Peace-Builders introduced me …to people who are making huge strides and showing the world what nonviolence looks like and what really difficult peace-building looks like under the most dire circumstances,” she said.
“Interfaith Peace-Builders introduced me to an Israel/Palestine that wasn’t defined by despair. So many incredible and inspiring grassroots activists and people – both Palestinians and Israelis – are involved in the movement to end the Occupation and find a just solution. It was uplifting" – Kate
If O’Reilly asked for Kate’s vision of a political solution to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, and if she were given time to reply, she would say: “A political solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict can begin when the Occupation ends, which must include lifting the blockade on Gaza and allowing for freedom of movement and access for all Israelis and Palestinians.”
“There will have to be intensive negotiations and support for Israelis and Palestinians working for non-violent solutions to end the conflict. The US has the leverage to save lives, and carve out a more hopeful future for the region. It’s critical that any long-term solution provides sovereignty and safety for Israelis and Palestinians.”