10 December 2012
AL-KHALIL (HEBRON) REFLECTION: A sum of
by Jonathan Brenneman
I am heading up CPT’s
involvement in a campaign to save eight villages in the southern tip of the
West Bank from forced evacuation and destruction by Israel. The Israeli army
claims to want the land, known as Masafer Yatta, for military training,
referring to the area as Firing Zone 918.
As part of the campaign I get to
spend one night a week with a family in Masafer Yatta as a guest. I and another
CPTer stay over in order to provide an initial protective presence in case of
attempted demolitions or army harassment. A collaborative effort among several groups
working in the area provides for an international presence there at all times.
It is good to visit with the families and hear their stories. On 8 December, I
got to go to the Masafer in another capacity, as a nonviolent demonstrator.
As part of the campaign to raise
awareness of the plight of the people living within the Firing Zone, villagers
and internationals decided to have a bicycle ride and march into the area.
Technically, according to Israeli law, entrance into the zone is illegal, even
though over 1000 people live there. The idea was to show solidarity with the
villages as well as to show the Israeli army and government that the world
cares about what will happen to the people living there.
I don’t know who thought that
riding bikes across the hilly, rocky, unpaved land was a feasible, but they
were wrong. We ended up walking the bikes as much as we rode, but it worked out
well because the marchers were able to keep up with the ‘cyclers’. The main
march was to the village of Um Fagarah. It had recently gained even more
importance since the Israeli army destroyed the mosque in that village days
before the demonstration. In the village we talked with leaders and the press
took pictures and interviews.
There were about 100
participants. It was amazing to see Israelis, Palestinians, and internationals
– men, women, and children – all marching together, sharing their stories with
each other, and united in this cause.
On 16 December, the Israeli high
court will begin legal proceedings on the future of these villages. A march
with 100 people and some cameras feels insignificant given the devastation
possible from the courts. I have to remind myself that the cycle ride/march was
one piece to pressure the courts to do the right thing. There are many other
pieces, each of which feels insignificant on its own, but when put together,
they might just create enough pressure to make something happen.
Another seemingly insignificant act you can participate in is to sign CPT’s
Avaaz petition to go the Israeli embassies. Here is the link: Please
sign. Let us all together commit enough insignificant acts to bring about a