AL-KHALIL (HEBRON) REFLECTION: A better than usual Friday (8 August 2013)

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CPTnet
12 August 2013
AL-KHALIL (HEBRON) REFLECTION: A better than usual Friday  (8 August 2013)

by Jonathan Brenneman

[Note: The following story has been edited for length.  The entire reflection may be found in the new CPT Palestine newsletter.]

 
  Palestine CPTer in uniform

Fridays have been difficult for CPT recently.  While the soldiers have been relatively
benign toward the Palestinians on Fridays (which we are thrilled about), they
have not been so lax with us.  Fridays have mostly consisted of us going on Mosque patrol,
getting yelled at by soldiers, and leaving under fear of arrest.  A few weeks ago, soldiers told us we
couldn’t be in the area with our hats and vest.  Then they told us we weren’t allowed in the area at all.  Last Friday, a soldier told us we were
not allowed there.  Then he asked
us why we don’t go to Syria, if I think I’m a wise guy, why we insisted on
blabbing instead of leaving, if we read our Bible, why we asked so many
questions when the command was “obvious,” and finally if we would like him to bring
out some more soldiers to force us out.

Every Friday evening we do what we call the “prayers’ road
patrol”  along the road that
connects  the settlement of Kiryat
Arba with the Ibrahimi Mosque/Cave of Machpelah.  Since Palestinians live along the road, Israeli soldiers are
always stationed there on Friday evenings to protect settlers.  Sometimes Palestinians are denied access
to the road or are attacked by settlers.

We must pass in front of the Ibrahimi Mosque (Cave of
Machpelah), where soldiers have told us we cannot be, to walk on the road.  One soldier greeted us as we walked by
and asked about our organization on our way back.  When I talked about what CPT stood for, he nodded in
agreement.  As the conversation
turned to the settlements he said, “Yeah, the settlements are a big problem.  I hope you all continue doing good work;
good luck.”  We stumbled away, half
in shock.

We continued our return journey energized, talking about how
refreshing that interaction was, how we need to remember to humanize everyone
we meet, and strategies we used to “love all our neighbors” in this situation.  We chatted all the way up the walkway to
the Ibrahimi Mosque (Cave of Machpelah), when a border policewoman called us
over.

She explained that we are not allowed to wear our vests and
hats there.  We told her that there
was no such law.  She courteously
translated our inquiry to the Israeli civilian police  behind her.  The
border-police woman continued to say, “Just hold on a second we’re fighting
about it right now.”  Eventually
she said, ““I’m sorry…You can go.”  Again, we were flabbergasted.  We walked through the checkpoint, smiles on our faces, vests
on our chests, and hats on our heads. One of the border-police men asked us
sternly, “Do you understand?” To which we answered, “Yes! We’re allowed,” as we
hurried through.

I don’t know what the soldiers will be like in the future,
but that night we had a soldier encourage us in our work, while another
actually apologized to us, allowing us to do something we have been denied
permission to do for weeks.  It was
a great walk, and totally redeemed my Friday.

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