Palestine: March 2009

Christian Peacemaker Teams

Delegation to Israel and Palestine - March 17-30, 2009

Daily Log

Delegation members: Naifeh Aljebrin (London, Ontario), Julia Bridges (Kankakee, Illinois), Stephanie Epp (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), Sarah F (Portland, Oregon), Karen Hernandez-Anderson (Sudbury, Massachusetts), Aart Hoogcarspel (Zwolle, Netherlands), David Maher (Brookfield, Massachusetts), Catherine Rabenstine (Chicago, Illinois), Caitlin Robertson (Eugene, Oregon), Maarten van der Werf (Zwolle, Netherlands), Joseph Wyse (Columbus, Ohio). Leader: Char Smith (Gibson City, Illinois).

Wednesday, March 18
Day One

Arrival in Jerusalem, travel to guest house in Beit Sahour, introductions and begin orientation

Thursday, March 19
Day Two

Bethlehem area.

Wi’am: Name means “cordial relationship”, similar to “agape” or “harmony.” Christian, community-oriented, seeking to understand and meet current needs to improve life during Occupation. Work with families, women and children. Perspectives on how ongoing trauma affects children (e.g., the story of the boy and the marbles), and how women are affected by and deal with the Occupation (the women’s co-op). Seek to “Empower the weak, bring the strong to their senses.”

Holy Land Trust: Nonviolence training for any/all, regardless of religion or age. (Volunteer/Intern opportunities.) Peaceful Muslim-Christian neighbor relations. Peace-building program, including projects in schools and demonstrations. Emphasis on cultural identity, theory and practice.

Badil: Common misconception that the situation is "complicated" (there are lots of details, but it is very straightforward). Root cause is Zionism (the idea that one people exclusively belong to the land). Refugees. Negev. Israel’s approach is what must change.

Deheisha Refugee Camp:
Event – memorial-type service for people killed 60 years ago. Walked through camp. Stayed as guests overnight and heard family’s story over dinner. Purchased embroidery handmade by women living in the camp.

Friday, March 20
Day Three

Morning: return from Deheisha, meet to check-in and debrief, plan for action.

Rapprochement Center/IMEMC: George gave us history and overview of organization. Twenty years old and includes 3 departments: Community organizing, Alternative travel, Media. Presented detailed maps showing how much land is left for Palestinian people over the years, and the wall’s effects (e.g., village of Qalqilya).

Action: Joined women and families in Mothers Day march against the wall. Various observations of and interactions with Palestinians and IDF members.

Afternoon: Free time.
Evening: Debriefing, life stories (Karen, Julia)

Saturday, March 21
Day Four

Morning: Aheeb’s school (Mothers Day celebration).

ARIJ: The Israeli Civil Administration is a branch of the military. Two kinds of settlements: strategic, and bargaining chips. Nonstop settlement expansion since 1993, and noncompliance with the Annapolis agreement in Nov. 2007 to stop settlement activity. The E-1 Plan (Jerusalem) - one neighborhood would break geographic contiguity of the West Bank.  Gaza - 62 sq. km, 71.5 million people (about 12,000 people every sq. km).

Afternoon: Traveled to Hebron and toured the town. Visited Il-Ibrahimi Mosque, went through checkpoints and the souq, all surrounded by settlers’ houses. Souq is lined with netting above to prevent shoppers from being hit by objects thrown from settlers above (bottles, cement blocks, etc).

Evening: Dinner with Zleeka, team process discussions, worship.

Sunday, March 22
Day Five

Morning: Abdulhadi Hantash of the Land Defense Committee. Four steps: 1898 (Bell Conference, Switzerland), 1948, 1967 and now. Israel's goal of expansion. Bypass roads called "clean roads." 22-25% of housing units in most settlements are empty. 475,000 settlers on West Bank aquifers (while his family pays $100/month for water).

Afternoon: Travel to At-Tuwani, orientation to the area by CPT full-timers, stay with Hafaz, hear his perspectives on violence and nonviolence.

Monday, March 23
Day Six

Morning: School patrol (no extra problems this time), breakfast at Hafez’s, team meeting and scheduling with Sarah (full-timer), tour of Tuwani with Sean (full-timer), life stories (Char, Aart).

Afternoon: Hear from Keefa about women’s co-op, shop, hang out with full-time team.
Six delegates (and three full-timers) travel to Tuba and Maghear Al-Abeed.

Afternoon school patrol: soldiers failed to complete escort, settlers were present and visible to the children, who then ran home a different way.

Tuesday, March 24
Day Seven

School patrol and going with shepherds.

Back to Hebron.

Hospital: Funded by zakat (Muslim practice of giving to charity). One-third of the Hebron population is in this southern area, where there is 1 government hospital and 2 private hospitals (but a greater need). For 200,000 people this is the only Emergency Room available.

Check-in and process time

Wednesday, March 25
Day Eight

Morning: Worship, visit Zleeka’s kindergarten.

Hebron Rehabilitation Committee: Renovations - 850 apartments (resulting in 4,500 coming back to live here). Rebuilding is done traditionally, according to international restoration standards. Job creation (preparing for rehab, labor).
Visit buildings, park near mosque.

Afternoon: Free time.

Spend the night with Jamal's family in Beit Umar and Atta Jabar's family outside Hebron.

Thursday, March 26
Day Nine

Lunch with Abdulhadi, visit his office.
Travel to Bethlehem (House of Bread), free time.
Dinner, Sarah's life story, worship.

Friday, March 27
Day Ten


80% of checkpoints are not border checkpoints, they are within the West Bank. 95% of house demolitions have nothing to do with terrorist or anti-occupation threats. Israel's idea of "security" is not about physical security, but the security of a Jewish State of Israel. Palestinians are one-third of the population of Jerusalem; only 5-8% of the municipal budget goes toward them. Two-thirds of Palestinians in Jerusalem live below poverty level; 50% don't go to public schools (and of those who do, 50% drop out).

Sabeel (“The Way”)
: One must combine religion and activism, cannot separate this from policy and structural injustice in order to peacefully affect change.

Dinner BBQ at Naifeh’s home.

Saturday, March 28
Day Eleven

Tent of Nations:
Non-violently resisting by farming on family land. Family has papers from Ottoman Empire proving ownership of land (not common). Tent of Nations is proud to be an organization that works directly with the land, rather than simply lecturing. They conduct youth camps as well.

Through another checkpoint to Jerusalem (Golden Gate Inn)

Women in Black:
part of delegation attended demonstration

Breaking the Silence:
Presented in 2005 an exhibition in Tel Aviv of photography by Israeli soldiers in Hebron, "the story of the occupation through the eyes of the occupier". Discussed desire to force a public debate through personal testimony.

Sunday, March 29
Day Twelve

Free time in Jerusalem.