HEBRON REFLECTION: Learning to love my enemies

13 January 2007

HEBRON REFLECTION: Learning to love my enemies

by Amy Peters

One of the reasons I wanted to come to Palestine was to help children get to
school and protect them from soldiers who caused them trouble. However,
being a good peacemaker, I also came wanting to work hard at loving my
enemies. My plan was to try to see the humanity of these soldiers and
identify with them as individuals rather than as faceless, uniformed bad

I did not have to work hard. In fact, I did not even have to try. From the
beginning, these enemy soldiers were happy to respond to my greeting and
even happier to chat for a while. The times when we argued with their
orders, they remained patient. Many times, they calmly repeated that they
had orders not to let us pass and could do nothing about it. They often
apologized for that fact.

Meanwhile, some of the Palestinian children whom I was to support and
protect were not nearly as innocent or grateful as I expected. Some
schoolboys-and random boys who were not going to the schools we
accompany-mobbed us and stole from us, harassed, and swore at us. These
boys were the ones to really challenge my commitment to nonviolence. When
they threw apples and stones at us, I was tempted to leave them to whatever
came their way, tempted to think that they deserved their fate.

I must continually remind myself that no one deserves to live a life like
this, and that these kids have been formed by the conflict that surrounds
them. It is no wonder they throw stones and swear at anyone who invades
their space. How are they to tell which foreigners are here to help them
and which are here to hurt them?

As a wannabe peacemaker, I must pray to God to give me love for these
children - these children who cause me so much anger and often feel like my