QUAKERS in Britain have offered their support to Ramallah Friends School in the wake of the shooting of three former students in Vermont. Hisham Awartani, Tahseen Ahmed and Kinnan Abdalhamid, all aged 20, attended the 150-year-old Quaker institution in Palestine from age six.

Kinnan is a student at Quaker-founded Haverford College, Pennsylvania, while Hisham studies at Brown University and Tahseen at Trinity College, Connecticut. They were shot in Burlington, Vermont, on Saturday 25 November. Hisham remains in hospital with a serious spinal injury, while the other two have less critical injuries.

James J. Eaton  has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder over the attack which police are investigating as a possible hate crime. There has been a surge in Islamophobic and antisemitic incidents in the US, as well as the UK, since the Hamas attacks of 7 October which led to massive bombardment of Gaza by the Israeli defence forces

The three young men were in Burlington to visit Hisham’s grandmother for Thanksgiving and were shot as they left an eight-year-old’s birthday party at a relative’s house. They were wearing the traditional keffiyeh scarf and speaking in Arabic when they were attacked.

Oliver Robertson, head of witness and worship at Quakers in Britain, said: “This unprovoked attack is awful and we hold all those affected in the Light. These are students whose learning was imbued with the Quaker values of peace and equality, and the idea that all life is sacred. It is shocking that they should be attacked in this way as they left the safety of a family home.”

Ramallah Friends School said: “Let this incident be a stark reminder of the urgent need to challenge and change the discourse that deems us as anything less than fully human; people who are deserving of empathy, compassion, rights, life, freedom and happiness.”

They added: “We are grateful for the outpouring of support from the community and alumni network worldwide. Your solidarity in holding our graduates and their families in the Light has been a source of Light for us all.”

Students at the 1,400-strong Quaker Ramallah Friends School attend silent meetings for worship and are guided by the foundation principles of peace, equality and justice. They also learn about nonviolent peace-making, all while living under difficult conditions which have worsened with the current conflict.

Sixty students and staff have to negotiate risky roads just to reach the school and last year a 16-year-old student was held by the Israeli military for 40 days before being released under house arrest.

Shadi Khoury was taken from his family home in East Jerusalem in the middle of the night. After six court hearings, he was charged with stone-throwing and attacking police officers, charges he denies. At the time Recording Clerk of Quakers in Britain, Paul Parker, wrote to the then Foreign Secretary James Cleverly highlighting the case.

* More information on Ramallah Friends School here.

* Source: Quakers in Britain