Jean Mikhail Zaru is a Palestinian Quaker who was a founding member of Sabeel, an ecumenical Palestinian Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem, and was instrumental in the establishment of the Friends International Center in Ramallah.
Jean Mikhail was born in 1940 to a Quaker family in Ramallah, Palestine. When she was eight, she witnessed the Palestinian "Nakba," when 750,000 Palestinians were made permanent refugees during the creation of the State of Israel.
At the time, her father rented a truck, filled it with bread and water, and distributed it to the refugees. He also befriended several families who were unable to continue walking because of thirst, pain, and heat. He invited them to stay in his home. For six weeks, 50 people lived in the Mikhail home. One family lived with them for the next two years. Thus began Zaru’s life-long commitment to the liberation of both individual Palestinian peoples and Palestinian society as a whole.
"We must work hard to find nonviolent ways of overcoming political, social, economic, ecological, and religious violence and to join hands with all those who are committed to fighting the forces of darkness," Zaru says. "In order to hope for justice and to hope for peace, we must work for peace."
Zaru has been a leader in the Palestinian Quaker community and a pioneer for women’s equality. In addition to serving as clerk of the Ramallah Friends Meeting, Zaru was a founding member and vice-chair of Sabeel, an ecumenical Palestine Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem. She has been a consultant to the Middle Eastern Council of Churches on human rights issues, and a member of that organization's Committee for Christian-Muslim Dialogue.
She wrote the books: A Christian Palestinian Life: Faith and Struggle and Structural Violence: Truth and Peace-Keeping in the Palestinian Experience. Zaru also served on the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and on the Working Group in Interfaith Dialogue of the WCC. In addition, she has been a member of the International Council of the World Conference for Religion and Peace. She served as president of the Board of Directors of the Jerusalem YWCA, member of national board of YWCA Jordan and YWCA Palestine, and was vice president of the World YWCA. She is a volunteer consultant for the Middle East Council of Churches, especially on the topic of Islam and human rights, as well as other church organizations.
Most recently, Zaru has been instrumental in the establishment of the Friends International Center in Ramallah, which works to "lift up and nurture a Quaker presence in Ramallah; find ways to enrich and support the local community; and hold up and further peace and justice issues in the community."
For more information about Jean Zaru and Palestinian Quakers, please see www.ramallahquakers.org
To find out more about Sabeel, an ecumenical Palestine Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem, please see www.sabeel.org.