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.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Israeli Settlers Attack and Hospitalize Palestinians in the South Hebron Hills

. . . And, incredibly, it made BBC news. Check it out:


These attacks occurred in the Palestinian village of Susiya (though the village name is not mentioned in the article), not too far from us in At-Tuwani.

Two editorial comments:

1.) It is interesting to observe the language that is used to describe these attacks: "an apparent assault", and "[police] were inquiring into the whether there had been any 'provocation' for the apparent attack and whether all the Palestinians in the footage where indeed shepherds." I wonder how this article would have been written, if it was about Israelis attacked by Palestinians? Would it have been an "apparent assault", and would police be asking whether the Israelis provoked the attack?

Somehow I doubt it.

Which leads to my second comment:

2.) The article states: "Human rights groups say the Israeli police and the judiciary often show leniency towards the settlers, who live on land captured by Israel in the 1967 war with support from the Israeli state. The authorities deny such accusations."

My experience affirms the former statement, regarding leniency towards Israeli settlers.

Here end my editorial comments. Do research, come to Palestine and see the situation for yourself, and come to your own opinion.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"Joy! How are you?"

We received a call a few days ago from a Palestinian friend who lives in a nearby village. He was passing through At-Tuwani on his way home with his family (his wife, adolescent daughter, and two very young children, who were riding with him on his donkey.) For them, the journey home is dangerous, because they must pass in view of the Israeli settlement of Ma’on and the illegal Israeli settlement outpost* of Havat Ma’on. Israeli settlers might attack, harass, throw stones, or shoot at Palestinians passing this way. (Incidentally, the man who called us on this particular day was Shanti. A few months ago, settlers shot at him and his flocks in a valley not too far from where he and his family was going to walk. I wrote about his experience in my previous post, “Shanti’s Shot Sheep”.)

So Shanti called to ask us to accompany his family and himself on their way home. Away we all went, joking, laughing, and having little races along the way. We walked approximately a third of the way without incident. Then Shanti asked us to stand on a hill nearby and watch as they continued home; if we saw settlers coming their way, we were to call them to let them know.

Not long after they left us, we saw a car traveling from the illegal Israeli settlement outpost of Havat Ma’on in the direction of Shanti and his family.

I was standing next to my teammate, Joy, who called Shanti to tell him settlers were on their way. I could hear most of their conversation, which went something like this:

Joy: There are settlers.
Shanti: Where?
Joy: On the road. Going to where you are.
Shanti: Ok. (In the background, people saying, “Quickly, quickly!” and “Run!”) By the way, who is this?
Joy: This is Joy.
Shanti: Joy! How are you?

As he and his family were running (for their safety, possibly for their lives), Shanti was genuinely interested in Joy’s well being.

Shanti and his family arrived home safely, thank God. When Joy called him to see if they made it home, his wife insisted on speaking with Joy. She, too, very sincerely inquired after Joy’s welfare (never mind having just run home with her children and husband, fearing for their safety.)

These sorts of things – the constant threat of people following, harassing, or attacking other people – shouldn’t happen to anyone. But to know this happens regularly to such lovely people, so deeply committed to nonviolence and concerned for the people around them (even as they themselves are running for safety) somehow makes this unjust situation worse. To know that in the States, people believe the lie that Palestinians equals terrorists, when nothing is farther from the truth – it seems an unthinkable, racist crime.

“Joy, how are you?” Such a genuine, other-centered question in the midst of so much violence. It is a question I’ll never forget.

*According to the Geneva Conventions, the International Court of Justice in The Hague, and numerous United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal. Settlement outposts are illegal according to Israeli law.

Christian Peacemaker Teams announces publication of "118 Days," book detailing Iraq hostage crisis

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has announced the 5 June 2008 release of 118 Days: Christian Peacemaker Teams held hostage in Iraq, a book about the hostage crisis endured by the organization and its team members in Iraq, beginning in November 2005. Editor Tricia Gates Brown has compiled chapters written by members of CPT and CPT sympathizers actively involved with securing the release of Harmeet Singh Sooden, Jim Loney, Tom Fox, and Norman Kember, as well as by family, friends, and others whom the crisis profoundly affected.

"These honest and sobering reflections help all of us committed to the work of peace better understand the world in which we live. I hope this book will be widely read," writes theologian Stanley Hauerwas.

The book contains first-hand accounts of what led the four men to Baghdad, where their paths crossed with armed militants who did not understand their mission. It also provides insight into the daily lives of CPT delegations and teams, who risk all on their path to peace. The chapters weave a story of hope, friendship, fear, courage, and forgiveness, describing the daily sacrifices of the four hostages. In particular, readers will understand better the rich, textured life of Tom Fox, a CPTer who found a new calling late in life, leaving behind his careers in music and organic grocery retail to die in the streets of Baghdad. His bullet-ridden body was found two weeks before his colleagues were freed from captivity.

"God created us to form the human family. The Christian Peacemakers went to Iraq to help build that family. They went to work with their sisters and brothers for justice and peace. They are an example for Christians everywhere in their commitment to the Lord's ministry of reconciliation," Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote after reading 118 Days.

Visit http://www.cpt.org/118days to learn more, purchase a copy, and help spread the news!

Israeli military again blocks main access road in South Hebron Hills

At 11:00 a.m. on 5 June 2008, the Israeli military again blocked the road between At-Tuwani and Yatta. A bulldozer massed a six-foot-high mound spanning the width of the road, using concrete slabs, boulders, and earth. Several villages in the South Hebron Hills are again cut off from secondary schools, hospitals, and basic supplies such as water, firewood, and animal feed, because this road provides the primary vehicle access to Yatta, the region’s economic hub.

The new roadblock expands a pile placed by the Israeli army on 28 May. It is the largest in a series of obstructions erected over the past three months. Unlike previous roadblocks, the new blockage not only prevents vehicle access, but also traffic by foot and donkey. (Recently, closures and rising fuel prices have forced increasing numbers of Palestinians to use donkeys for travel throughout the Palestinian Territories.)

The road between At-Tuwani and Yatta is the main artery for the supply of water to the South Hebron Hills, currently experiencing a severe drought. According to Palestinian residents of the area, roadblocks have doubled the commercial price of water. A U.N. worker reported that this roadblock will increase by thirty percent the cost of transporting essential water aid to the area.

For photos go to http://cpt.org/gallery/Israeli-military-erect-roadblock-on-5th-June%2C-2008


So a lot has happened during two months of my personal blogging black hole. (Oops.) One of the big changes being that I am now at Christian Peacemaker Team's (CPT) project in At-Tuwani, a tiny Palestinian village of approximately 100-150 people. Some of my previous posts ("A Little Girl's Story" and "Shanti's Shot Sheep") have been a little about the absolutely amazing, fantastic Palestinians living there.

Anyway, more about At-Tuwani in the posts to come -- I live in the most fantastic village ever!