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Keywords:

  • humanitarianism;
  • ethics;
  • refugees;
  • Quakers;
  • Palestine

In this article, I consider the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) relief project in Gaza (1948–50) to explore ethical dilemmas that are endemic to humanitarianism. Considering humanitarian practice from this distinctive perspective can shed new light on this arena. Exploration of the “ethical labor” of Quaker practice in Gaza illuminates an ethical practice that joined concern for others with care of the self, a practice that was equally attentive to an obligation to be “in the world” and to be true to oneself. The debates and practices of AFSC volunteers in Gaza reveal humanitarianism as a field of compromised action.