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Home arrow Blog arrow November 2008 arrow November 22, 2008

November 22, 2008
WAWA Blog November 22, 2008: Loosing it in Hebron and making friends with the IOF


 
[November 20, 2008, Hebron] On the afternoon of my first trip to Hebron, on June 21, 2005, I vowed that I would never return, for it was the most painful place I have ever been.
 
I broke that vow on November 20, 2008.
 
 
In June 2005 I left my sanctuary on ten acres in paradise to fly to Israel Palestine for the first time. I was the Christian voice of the
Interfaith Olive Trees Foundation for Peace
 
On November 11, 2008, I embarked upon my sixth trip to Israel Palestine as a member of the global ecumenical Christian Liberation Theology movement known as Sabeel [Arabic for The Way] for their 7th International Conference:


The Nakba; Memory, Reality and Beyond:  Read more...


 
Nothing prepared me for my first trek upon the ancient streets with no names, for although I had researched the Israeli Palestinian conflict for two years, I did not know that I knew nothing until I experienced life in occupied territory.
 

I admit that I am biased.
 
I am on the side of ALL the poor, oppressed, voiceless and innocent ones who are caught in the cross fire of violence. War and Military Occupation are the ultimate expression of terror and exemplify what the anti-Christ is all about; for they go against everything that Jesus taught, lived and modeled with his NONVIOLENT, forgiving, loving and compassionate life.
 
Jesus was never a Christian, for that term was not even coined until the days of Paul-three decades after the social justice radical revolutionary Palestinian devout Jewish road warrior rose up against the corrupt Temple authorities and challenged their job security by teaching the people they did NOT need to pay the priests for ritual baths or sacrificing livestock to be OK with God.
 
For God LOVED them ALL, just as they were: sinners, poor, diseased, outcasts, widows, orphans, refugees and prisoners all living under the Roman Empire and Military Occupation.

What got Jesus and any other rebel, dissident, agitator crucified was disturbing the status quo of the Roman Empire and Occupying Forces; for crucifixion was the empires method of capital punishment.

 
 
My guide through Hebron in 2005, was Jerry Levin, who then was a full time volunteer with Christian Peacemaker Teams/CPT. In the 1980's Jerry was CNN's Middle East bureau chief in Lebanon. He was captured and held hostage by the Hezbollah for nearly a year, and on Christmas Eve, although a secular Jew, Jerry had a mystical experience and shortly thereafter, escaped unharmed, for the door of his holding place had been left unlocked and untended. He became a true Christian and he and his wife [a life long Christian] have devoted their lives to doing something to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Jerry told me, "Every time I get ready to return to Palestine, everyone asks me, 'Aren't you afraid?' I reply, of what, the Palestinians? No way! But when it comes to the Israelis soldiers, you bet I am!"
 


My guide in 2008, was D, a most dedicated and humble CPT. Every CPT, not only imagines what would happen if Christians devoted the same discipline and self-sacrifice to nonviolent peacemaking that armies devote to war, they do something about it by getting in the way of military occupations and stand up with and in front of the occupied and oppressed.
 
 
A Little History of Hebron:
 
From 1922 through 1928 the relationship between Jews and Palestinians was peaceful in Hebron.

But, in late 1928 a wave of violence began and 67 Jews were cold bloodily murdered due to the violence of outside agitating Arabs regarding the right of Jews to pray at the Western Wall (Kotel) in Jerusalem.

Haj Amin al-Husseini, Mufti of Jerusalem, fomented hatred by accusing the Jews of endangering the mosques and other sites holy to Islam and issued the call: Itback al-Yahud "Slaughter the Jews!"

The British occupied Palestine back then and they failed to stop the violence that erupted during seven days of riots in 1929.

On Friday, August 23, Arab mobs attacked Jews in Jerusalem, Motza, Hebron, Safed, Jaffa, and other parts of the country. The Haganah mounted a defense while rumors spread throughout the country of Jews who were defiling Muslim holy places.

Despite the fact that Jews and Arabs in Hebron had been on good terms, were in business together and lived as neighbors, a mass of frenzied outside agitating Arab rioters attacked the Hebron Yeshiva where a student was murdered. The next day, which was the Jewish Sabbath, an Arab mob of hundreds surrounded homes where Jews sought refuge and cold bloodily murdered scores of Jews in a violent rampage.
 
The British police did NOTHING to protect the Jews or stop the violence and were thus culpable in the deaths of sixty-seven Jews and the wounds of hundreds.

A courageous peace seeking Palestinian Muslim woman of Hebron, went onto her roof top and broke a taboo, when she uncovered her head and let her hair down.

She saved untold many when she cried aloud, "There are no more Jews here!"
 
 
 
In 2005, Hebron held a few hundred illegal Israeli settlers, three thousand eighteen- to twenty-one-years-old Israeli soldiers and many Palestinian neighborhoods were only ghost towns.

The oppression hit me in my gut, for I felt as if I had entered into a scene from the ghettos the Nazi's forced the Jews into. I told Jerry that Hebron was hell and he replied, "You haven't seen anything until you see Gaza."
 
 
The narrow, winding stone streets of Hebron are centuries old, but in the 21st century; one side is Palestinian and the other is occupied by Israeli settlers. Their only connection to the other is a thick, deeply sagging netting that is strung above ones head and catches huge rocks, shovels, electronic equipment, furniture, and all manner of debris that have been flung onto it by the colonialists.
 
In 2005, Jerry told me, "The settlers just throw whatever they want onto the netting; they do what ever they want and get away with it. The CPT's run interference by nonviolent resistance; we get the children and woman to where they need to be going and back again. Sometimes, the settlers curse and stone us all; it keeps it interesting."

Upon formerly Palestinian homes, the settlers had painted graffiti, such as "GAS THE ARABS" and Stars of David.
 
 

In 2008, the netting apparently had been recently cleaned and I did not get to see any graffiti, for the Israeli Occupying Forces would not allow our group to enter into the settler's territory. We were coldly told that orders had come from above that the area was closed to anyone who is not Israeli until "a year from now."

D, who wore the red CPT cap calmly requested to see the order, for she knows that any Israeli soldier can make up orders on their own. While we waited for 'official proof', I conversed with the young soldiers as a mother.

While the commander sought a document that was written all in Hebrew, one of the men asked me what I wanted and I told them all, "I want shalom; peace and justice, which requires equal human rights for all. I want you all to spend your youth on the beach, not in a uniform, not as military occupiers."

I gave away a few of my WeAreWideAwake.org business cards and four of them agreed to stand with me for a photo. I posed with the universal sign of peace; two fingers in a V and a smile on my face.
 
 
This all occurred less than an hour after I lost it completely up on the roof top of the CPT headquarters building; which is only a few yards away from the Israeli Occupying Forces command post.

From the roof one can view the alley way directly below, which had been the soccer field for Palestinians. D informed me that one day, an Israeli soldier came to play and he kicked the ball around with Palestinians kids under his complete command.

Beyond the alley is a line of abandoned Palestinian apartments and shops directly in front of the IOF's headquarters and three water towers with the Star of David upon them.


We are surrounded by the illegal [under international law] settlements of Tel Remudi, Kuriabia, Beit Hadesseh and Airham Avinu. Up on the roof top, an overwhelming sense of vertigo assaulted me and my gut was in a knot from the visceral oppression that inflamed every nerve and cell in my little body. With buckets of tears pouring out of me, I blindly gravitated to a corner of the roof the furthest away from my Sabeel group. I wept like the Magdalena who could not find her Lord as I imagined Jesus weeping over Jerusalem.
 

It was not long until I felt the soft touches of a few of the new friends I had made in the Sabeel group. They offered me tissues and words of sweet understanding and compassion. One of them said to me, "Did you notice that soldier on the roof top?"
 

I had not, although only the alley way divided us. I then looked at him and he was already looking at me. I lifted my right hand with index and middle fingers in a V. He looked away. I did not. Only a few seconds elapsed before he looked back at me. I offered him the sign of peace again, but he once again looked away. This cycle repeated a few more times, and then he nodded YES while looking at me!

 
 
As I bang out these words from my heart in a hotel in occupied east Jerusalem, buckets of tears flow out of me and I hear the close by sounds of rapid gun fire.
 
"Writing...is hard because you are giving yourself away, but if you love; you want to give yourself. You write as you are impelled to write, about man and his problems, his relation to God and his fellows…The sustained effort of writing, of putting [words down while] there are human beings [with] sickness, hunger, sorrow…I feel that I have done nothing well, but I did something."-Dorothy Day

I cry YES to telling the truth and pursuing justice-equal human rights and an END to the Occupation, for they are the only way to peace and security for Israel.
 
"We have it in our power to begin the world again" -Tom Paine

All we need is the will which is always free; and the desire to do something.

Learn More:

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http://sabeel.org

http://olivetreesfoundation.org

 

 
 

   
 
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