One of my teammates printed off "An open letter to Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice," signed by representatives of the Israeli settler community here in Hebron. The settlers here live right in the midst of -- in some places, literally on top of -- Palestinian neighborhoods. They tend to be the most ideologically radical of settlers in the occupied Palestinian territory. Which means . . . well, lots of things. They openly state they want to clear Hebron of its Palestinian inhabitants and make it an exclusively Jewish city. Currently, there are somewhere between 400-800 settlers (depending on what source one consults) living in a city of approximately 120,000.
Anyway, back to this letter. It is very interesting. I'm thinking I might post it later (right now I only have a hard copy), but one sentence in the letter jumped out at me. I have read the sentence read several times, mostly out of incredulity:
"Even if Arabs have personal human rights, they have never had any collective national rights in this country."
"Even if Arabs have personal human rights"? I'm hoping desperately that this is simply a poorly chosen word, that the authors really meant, "Even though". (Though, frankly, I would still disagree with the statement, even if this is what the authors really meant.)
But, from this letter and the interactions my teammates and I have had with the settlers, I'm skeptical that this was a slip of the tongue. Earlier in this letter, the authors write that "[t]he Arabs . . . never contributed a thing to [Israel's] development. Under Arab rule, most of the country was unpopulated and desolate . . ."
Near one of the schools in Hebron, there is settler graffiti that says, "Gas the Arabs," and "Arabs are sand nigg**s."
"Even if the Arabs have personal human rights." That phrase knocks the mental "wind" out of me, like someone hit me too hard in the chest.
About this Blog
"Ordinary People" is something of an intentional misnomer. I live and work with Palestinians practicing nonviolent resistance to the Israeli occupation. They are doing things that are hardly "ordinary": committing themselves to active nonviolence and to loving their enemies -- following the commands of One who was anything but ordinary. And yet, the Palestinians with whom I work are also very ordinary -- they are not some kind of spiritual superheroes/superheroines who do things most folks can't do. They are simply ordinary people daily committing themselves to living a higher calling -- a calling of love and active nonviolence.