“This is the fourth car of mine that Israelis have set on fire in seven years,” said Palestinian Hani Abu Haikel, a long-time friend of CPT. “It will cost 2000 shekels ($500U.S.) to fix.”
Living next door to the Israeli settlement of Tel Rumeida, Hani’s family has suffered much violence. Settlers have cut down olive trees and grapevines, destroyed property, dumped garbage in their yard and stolen children’s toys. Through it all, Hani has remained firmly committed to nonviolence.
“In 2000, at the start of the Intifada,” he said, “I went to a meeting of 15 Fatah leaders who were planning to use guns against the Israeli settlers and soldiers. Everybody was talking. No one listened to me about nonviolent action and CPT.”
“Last month,” he continued, “I met with many of these same leaders again. This time no one talked. They asked me many questions about how to use nonviolent action to resist the occupation.”
After inviting CPT to his house in 1995, Hani was shunned by his neighbors for six months and the local grocer refused to sell to him. They thought he was working with collaborators. “Now people are hearing us,” he said. “They have learned that violence doesn’t work and they have seen the power of nonviolence.”
Hani described several experiences that led him to this way of thinking, including a card game long ago between CPTer Pierre Shantz and an old Arab man. “They were of different ages, languages, cultures and religions, but they made human contact,” Hani said.
Then he saw the movie “Crash” about race relations in Los Angeles. “I love this movie!” he exclaimed. “People are complicated and they can change. Nothing is impossible for God.”
“Then,” he continued, “I saw on TV one man standing alone on the street in Jerusalem with a sign reading ‘End the Occupation.’ That picture was shown around the world and that one man made a difference.”
Hani went on, “If my neighbor is Moishe or George, what does it matter – only, is he a good man? My dream is that some day soon my children will play in the street with settler children.”