On the afternoon of Friday 28 December, two Palestinian gunmen and two armed off-duty Israeli soldiers died from a gun battle in the Hebron area. The shooting took place in an area under Palestinian control, near the village of Beit Kahil. The two Israelis lived in Kiryat Arba, the Israeli settlement on the outskirts of Hebron. Local media outlets reported that one or two injured Palestinians escaped.
Where I grew up, we read the story of Herod ordering the massacre of
children under two years of age but we never connected it to warfare,
national security or the perpetual, bloody struggle of people in power to
stay in power. We just thought this was part of God's plan removed from
It was a warm, sunny Christmas day in the South Hebron Hills. My Christian Peacemaker teammate and I spent the morning with an At-Tuwani villager and his children plowing and sowing wheat with two donkeys. Flocks of sheep were on the hills around us, an ideal setting for thinking about the birth of Jesus. We were there in solidarity with people facing possible attacks
from the occupiers, from the people with guns, from those who wield worldly
power. We were standing with the shepherds, with the dispossessed--people
like those to whom the angels announced good news 2,000 years ago.
In 2001, my friend Sue Gilmurray wrote a song that started out, "It used to be normal to buy and sell people--" and continued, "But some had the vision, and some had the courage to work all their lives to put an end to that trade."
I write today with a mixture of sadness and hope. Tomorrow, December 22, 2007, is the tenth anniversary of the martyrdom of forty-five Christian pacifists belonging to a group called Las Abejas (the Bees) in Chiapas, Mexico.