Hebron: The Problem of an Arab Beach

Hebron: The Problem of an Arab Beach
April 10, 1999
CPT Hebron

"Would you like to see an Arab beach?" A Palestinian called to us as our
Christian Peacemaker Team walked near the suq (marketplace) in Hebron last

The "Arab beach" was a cistern dating to the Ottoman Empire. The water
shortage in the Israeli-controled section of Hebron had caused the
Palestinians to re-open these ancient cisterns. The manhole cover was open,
allowing us to peer in and see a worker in a swimsuit doing repairs. He was
also enjoying himself immensely in the relative cool of the water while we
baked in the extreme heat of the street. We were encouraged to take
pictures, and the Palestinians enjoyed posing. The laughter aroused the
curiosity of nearby Israeli soldiers, who came to check out the situation.
We moved on, still chuckling over the oxymoron of an "Arab beach" in Hebron.

Later on we visited in the home of a rabbi in the Jewish settlement of
Keriat Arbah, about two miles away. As we approached, we were struck by the
green grass surrounding the apartment buildings, along with the well-groomed
trees and shrubs. We were served ice cream and ice water, treats unknown to
us at the CPT house.

In the course of conversation, the water shortage in Hebron was mentioned.
Our hosts knew nothing about it. There was no water shortage in the Jewish
settlement (Israeli authorities were re-routing as much as 75% of the daily
water supply from Israeli-controled Hebron to the settlement). Sure, they
had seen the water trucks going to and from Hebron, but thought that was
just the Arab was of doing things.

The rabbi and his wife were good people, living out the Jewish dream.
But they were ill-informed on the conditions imposed on the Palestinians by
the Israeli occupation - such as the water shortage.

Since then I have wondered how well informed the Rich man was about Lazarus,
who laid at his gate (Lk. 16:19ff). More to the point, how concerned am I
about the Lazarus who lays at my own gate? Does my American dream also
create "Arab beaches"?