HEBRON REFLECTION: "It used to be normal"

28 December 2007
HEBRON REFLECTION: "It used to be normal"

by Donna Hicks

In 2001, my friend Sue Gilmurray wrote a song that started out, "It used to
be normal to buy and sell people--" and continued, "But some had the vision,
and some had the courage to work all their lives to put an end to that

I am struggling this year with The Occupation. I have had it with The
Occupation to way up over my head. I am beginning to wonder if in my
violence reduction work through CPT I am complicit in The Occupation. Have
my colleagues and I become invisible to the Powers that be? Does our
presence and our work make a difference?

"And then the tide turned--"

The tide may turn, but right now, I feel I'm in the water up to my neck and
the water is rising.

Is it normal for Palestinian school children to have to pass through a
checkpoint and metal detector, and to have their school bags searched by
Israeli border police or soldiers? Is it normal to see a five- year-old
cringe away from a soldier at a checkpoint because he doesn't know if the
soldier will yell at him, or take his bag to search it, or smile and wave
him on?

Is it normal to have Jewish-only roads? Is it normal to have a segregated
public transportation system--one set of busses for Palestinians and another
set for Israelis? Is it normal to ask a person if she is Christian, Jewish,
or Muslim to determine if she can walk below the walls of the Ibrahimi
Mosque/Cave of Machpelah?

The song goes on, "Today it is normal to justify warfare--. We talk of a
vision of peace for our children, and who is to say that we are wasting our

The visions of Thomas Clarkson and William Wilberforce, celebrated this year
at the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade in the UK, the vision
of Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela and the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission in South Africa--these visions made the tide turn.

Will the growing Palestinian nonviolent movement make the tide turn?

"Because the tide turns--although the change seems slow--as the tide turns
and peace can start to grow."

The water may come up over my head, as the Psalm says, but the tide will
turn and peace will start to grow. It's got to.