BEIT UMMAR: "Teach Me Lord to Wait"

October 19, 2002
BEIT UMMAR: "Teach Me Lord to Wait"

by Joanne "Jake" Kaufman

"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount
up with wings as eagles. . .They shall run and not be weary, they shall
walk and not faint. Teach me Lord, teach me Lord to wait." (Song based on
Isaiah 40:31)

Waiting sometimes appears to be an art form for Palestinians. Perhaps the
most recent public example was Yasser Arafat's waiting out the Israeli
siege and destruction of the Palestinian Authority's compound in Ramallah.

Many Palestinians have said that Arafat has misled his people and made
choices that do not represent their best interests. "The ones from outside,
they signed the [peace] papers without looking at them. They do not care
for us," said one old man. However, the siege rallied Palestinians to act
in solidarity with the man who is a symbol of their struggle and
suffering. They observed a general strike in support of the leader,
closing many main shopping streets and corridors in Hebron and other
cities. One taxi driver said to CPTers, "We are [voluntarily] staying
inside because our leader is trapped [inside]."

Sunday after church a CPTer walked through Jerusalem's nearly-empty Old
City. The shopowners sat on short stools, waiting for tourists to stop and
buy. The second Intifadah has scared away thousands of tourists. "I open
my shop and sit here all day. Sometimes no one comes. We want peace. We
cannot make a living if there is violence," said one
shop owner.

A family invited CPTers for a picnic and walk to ruins near Beit Ummar. As
they laughed with the team, the mother said, "We only make jokes on the
surface. I cry for 5-10 minutes every day." As the group walked to the
ruins, the daughter said, "The situation is getting worse [with the
siege on Chairman Arafat]. I want things to get better. I want to live.
God willing, next year will be better."

CPTers were walking to the checkpoint at the entrance to Beit Ummar around
9:45 p.m. A resident called them over to have tea and sit. They looked
down over Route 60. Flashers were blinking on a stopped vehicle. "[The
driver] is probably having his ID checked," said the resident. He
continued. "Yesterday, the soldiers detained someone for two days inside
the checkpoint. In a room where no one could see, he had to stand with his
hands raised on the wall. They made him stand on one leg for hours, with
his hands up. For 48 hours, they made him do this while they checked his

The mother of the family said in Arabic, "What can we do? Only The God
knows why we suffer. Only The God can save us."
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