On May 18, CPTer Greg Rollins (Surrey, BC) was taken into custody by Israeli soldiers while observing the detention of a large number of Palestinian men in H1 (the 80% of Hebron not officially under direct Israeli military control). He was held for 17 days without charges and threatened with deportation. The Israeli High Court temporarily blocked his deportation, but a hearing is still pending. Meanwhile, Rollins is back in Hebron working with the team.
In the days following Rollins' arrest, Israeli soldiers entered CPT Hebron's apartment twice and announced major restrictions on the team's movements in the city. They examined passports and visas, photographed the apartment and individual team members, studied maps and pictures on the wall, and scrutinized the contents of a filing cabinet. The soldiers then told the team not to accompany Palestinian children to school and not to enter H1. Team members' efforts to obtain the new restrictions in writing were rebuffed. Finally an Isreali military officer showed the team a document, written in Hebrew, dated 2001. The team continues its violence-reduction work, responding to calls from all parts of Hebron.Back to the top
The "Roadmap to Peace" - the plan drafted by the U.S., United Nations, European Union and Russia as a way to end violence between Israel and the Palestinians - is now in its first phases of implementation.
The Roadmap conforms in large part to the goals of most of CPT's partner groups. The Roadmap explicitly proposes to end the occupation. The Roadmap calls for immediate removal of a number of the newer Israeli settlements, followed by a freeze in all settlement construction activity. These are clear actions, easily observed, that could have an immediate impact on reducing violence and moving toward reconciliation.
So far, CPTers are hard-pressed to find any positive effects of the Roadmap in Hebron. Settlement expansion continues. More Palestinian homes are threateend with demolition. Recent events leave many questioning the intentions of the Israeli government in the West Bank.
Is the removal of international monitors like CPT on the roadmap? How many more bulldozed Palestinian homes will block the road? The "Roadmap to Peace" can only show possible routes. It is up to the drivers to make the tripBack to the top
Kiryat Arba is an Israeli settlement built after the Israeli military occupation began on Palestinian farmland east of Hebron. The Dana family has lived in the Beqa'a Valley between Kiryat Arba and Hebron since before the settlement was built.
When Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called for "continuity" of Israeli settlements from Hebron's Old City to Kiryat Arba, some two miles away, Palestinian families in the Beqa'a Valley, including the Dana's, came under serious threat.
The Israeli military issued demolition orders on a score of Palestinian homes along the road for "security reasons." When the families protested that they have never assaulted settlers but in fact have been the target of frequent settler violence, the Israeli High Court granted a temporary injunction against demolition of the homes, and gave the Israeli military a month to explain the "security" basis for the orders.
Lawyers for the Dana family warned that the Israeli military could file an appeal to overturn the injunction at any time during the month, and that the High Court would likely accept the army's position.
As the May 21 deadline approached, CPTers Eric Schiller (Ottawa, ON) and Kathie Uhler (New York, NY) took up residence with the Dana family. One night Schiller and Uhler witnessed Israeli settlers stoning the Dana house for an hour, breaking windows.
Although the military failed to move on the case before the deadline, the family's celebration was tempered by the recongnition that a new demolition order can be issued at any time.Back to the top
The walls of prisons are thick. I believe they are built that way not only to keep the prisoners in, but also to keep prayers out. When I was in prison I prayed a lot, sometimes by myself, sometimes with friends who visited me, sometimes with a group of West African men who were being deported for working in Israel without a permit.
But it was not my own prayers that gave me the strength I needed, it was the prayers and support of the people on the outside that helped.
The men I was imprisoned with were foreign workers who had overstayed their visas and had little support from outside. Some had expired passports and could not have them renewed because their governments would not issue them new passports, or their embassies no longer existed in Israel.
Unlike these men, Palestinian prisoners often have outside support, but do not know why they are in jail. Under Israeli law, it is legal to detain a Palestinian for up to six months without charges. Because I was also held without knowing why, I can relate to how some Palestinians must feel when they are detained.
I found it confusing to be arrested by Isrealis for being in a Palestinian city. Israel often claims they want the Palestinian Authority (PA) to be accountable and take care of its own problems within Palestinian areas. It seems that it should be up to the PA, not the Israeli government, to decide whether or not internationals can enter their cities.
In the end, what helped me change my focus from anger at the absurdity of my situation to one of patience was knowing that there were people outside who supported me. As we say in CPT Hebron, I owe you all a lot of chocolate.Back to the top
CPT supporters who contacted Israeli authorities on behalf of Greg Rollins received some interesting responses.
Reservist Esther Ho from Hayward, CA wrote to the Israeli Embassy: "I urgently implore the State of Israel not to deport Christian Peacemaker Team member Greg Rollins. Israeli authorities must surely know that CPT members work actively to deter violence. Greg Rollins has accompanied Palestinian children to school who must walk close to Jewish settlements. Please dispatch this information immediately to officials in Israel. I have been unable to reach them."
The Public Affairs Officer responded: "On behalf of Ambassador Danial Ayalon, I would like to thank you for sharing your idea with the Israeli government and its people. It will be passed on to the right authorities. In these diffucult times, it is encouraging to receive such strong interest in our cause."
A CPT supporter in Canada received the following response from the Embassy of Israel in Ottawa: "Out of concern for the safety of peace activists and to prevent further misuse by terrorists of a cover of innocent, nonviolent movements to attack civilians, the government of Israel has decided to restrict the movement of members of international non-governmental organizations in areas of violent confrontations. It is unfortunate that manipulative forces among the Palestinian terrorist organizations are hindering important humanitarian work done by Christian and other groups."Back to the top
In the summer of 1995, shortly after CPT set up the project in Hebron, Motaz al-Jabari, a professor and administrator at Hebron University, became one of our principle friends and contacts. Motaz told the team that the front gate of Hebron University, which the Israeli military had cemented shut at the time of the first Intifada, was an ongoing source of bitterness for those who worked and studied at Hebron University.
After we told Motaz we were willing to help re-open the gate in defiance of Israeli military orders, he told selected students and faculty to show up on July 22 to take down the gate. At his request we invited Israeli members of the Hebron Solidarity Committee to come.
Someone tipped off the Israeli military and the police arrested CPTers Kathleen Kamphoefner, Wendy Lehman, and Cliff Kindy, and Maxine Kaufman (of the Hebron Solidarity Committee). Israeli lawyer Linda Brayer got them released and the case never went to trial.
After a spate of bus bombings in Spring 1996, the Israeli military closed the entire campus of Hebron University, even though no students, staff or faculty were ever implicated in the bombings. When the Israeli military renewed the closure, the students began attending daily vigils in front of the gate.
Probably our biggest contribution to these witnesses, other than our presence, happened when some of the male organizers told us they thought the soldiers were going to start becoming more aggressive. We suggested they put the female students in front.
"But they will not want to!" one of the organizers protested. We encouraged him to ask and he was bemused when he found that the women were not only willing but eager to stand in the front. And putting the women there did indeed stop the soldiers from pushing.
Eventually, the University did reopen, much to the excitement of the students. "It was our peace that did this!" one woman said, referring to the nonviolent tactics the students used.
Unfortunately, Hebron University has tottered on the verge of bankruptcy ever since. Israeli closures have made it impossible for students in villages outside of Hebron to attend classes, and because of the devastated economy, many have no money for tuition. Renting space for classrooms in other areas around the city has drained it of all financial resources.
When I heard that the military had once again closed the university this February, I felt that CPT's work in Hebron had come full circle. The settler violence that subsided somewhat after the Rabin assassination has returned to the streets of the Old City. The relationships we helped develop between Israelis and Palestinians in Hebron have deteriorated. Settlers and soldiers have once again closed the vegetable market to Palestinian vendors. And now, the military has closed the Hebron University again.
I suppose the flicker of hope in this situation lies in the Hebron University students who opened the gates on June 4, 2003 and notified the team they had done it afterwards. This time they did not feel they needed CPT help. They had the power to undertake this nonviolent resistance themselves.
CPT Hebron's team during May-June included: Kristin Anderson (Willmar, MN), Chris Brown (San Francisco, CA), Le Anne Clausen (Mason City, IA), Donna Hicks (Durham, NC), Diane Janzen (Calgary, AB), Kathy Kamphoefner (Beijing, China), Mary Lawrence (Lunenburg, MA), JoAnne Lingle (Indianapolis, IN), Germana Nijim (Cedar Falls, IA), Paul Pierce (Beijing, China), Sue Rhodes (Bath, England), Greg Rollins (Surrey, BC), Jim Satterwhite (Bluffton, OH), Eric Schiller (Ottawa, ON), Char Smith (Gibson City, IL), Harriet Taylor (Germantown, MN), Kathie Uhler (New York, NY).
Members of the May 27-June 8 Middle East delegation: Matthew Chandler (Springfield, OR), Wendi Kehler (Altona, MB), Christopher Lucas (Richmond, VA), Marlou MacIver (West Chester, PA), Tim Nafziger (Goshen, IN), Pieter Niemeyer (Stouffville, ON), Sheila Provencher (South Bend, IN), Lyn Reith (Lancaster, PA), Rugh Ellen Ray (Leola, PA), Char and Michael Smith (Gibson City, IL), and Colin Stuart (Ottawa, ON).Back to the top
On May 26, over 150 women, men and children gathered in the streets of a small neighborhood in Barrancabermeja, Colombia, to walk, pray, and sing for peace. The action, which began in the CPT's living room as a discussion between delegation members and current team members, came alive as we were greeted by an overwhelming crowd of Colombian partners and local people Monday evening.
One hundred candles were passed out. As we began lighting one, two, three candles, all of a sudden the street was filled with light.
The first stop in our pilgrimage through this neighborhood was the house of a young man killed by paramilitaries a few weeks earlier. We proclaimed these words of the gospel, "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted." We prayed that in our grief we would be touched by God's healing, and that in our emptiness we would be filled with strength to be instruments of God's peace.
We then processed to a place where the husband of a woman we know was killed. Here, we again read two beatitudes and reflected on their message for us as a people of God. We called for an end to all actions which diminish life, and for courage and power to continue hungering and thirsting for righteousness and peace.
A young relative of the man killed in this place asked to play a traditional flute song in remembrance of his brother, who also loved muic and art.
We then sang the song "Solo le Pido a Dios" - "All I ask of God, is that I do not become indifferent to death and suffering."
Next we stopped at a place that has been used repeatedly for murdering humans. We remembered friends and loved ones who died in this place and prayed for hearts big enough to forgive. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
As we gathered at the last site, the place of a horrible massacre, people began placing their candles along the road. One by one people added their lights to the row until we had a line of one hundred candles, shining in the dark of the evening.
At the end of the pilgrimage, our delegation expressed gratitude to our Colombian neighbors for having been able to walk together. We told them that we were touched by the stories we had heard and that we would not forget.
Colombians responded with applause, smiles, warm embraces, and kisses. Our prayers continue: "All I ask is that I do not become indifferent."
Participants in CPT's May 17-29 delegation to Colombia were: Scott Diehl (S. Burlington, VT), Claire Evans and Michael Goode (Chicago, IL), Dwayne Wenger Hess (Baltimore, MD), Bob Holmes (Toronto, ON), Elizabeth Redekopp (Winnipeg, MB) and Haven and Rose Whiteside (Tampa, FL).Back to the top
Pierre Shantz, a native of Quebec, rarely writes for CPT publications. He has been a full time CPTer since 1997 and has worked with teams in Haiti, Hebron, Mexicao, Colombia and various places in North America. He is gifted with the ability to learn laguages easily and has quick firm responses when violence threatens.
On my last night along Colombia's Opón River before returning to Canada I was asked three times "Why would you risk yourself?" In my last six years with CPT I have had to answer that question many times.
The answer is quite simple really. My Christian faith compels me to do so. As Christians we are called to be a voice for justice and stand with those who suffer.
Another comment that often comes up in conversation is, "I have a gun and can defend myself but you have nothing to protect yourself." We CPTers are so often viewed as odd balls. We go, unarmed, into armed conflict areas. Soldiers are not suspected of reckless decision making when they step into war because they have a gun to protect themselves. Even within the churches that support CPT, there are people who believe that without guns we are taking inappropriate risks.
Before going to the field we are trained and prepared to deal with the various situations and opportunities. Like soldiers we are trained well but unlike soldiers our training is in nonviolent intervention and violence reduction.
I am hoping to return to Colombia soon to continue working along side the people of the Opón, one of the hundreds of communities that are caught between contending armed groups. Why do I risk my life like this? I was asked this by paramilitary soldiers who had invaded the area for a day.
After they left the area every family we spoke to thanked us over and over for being there with them. They said that without our presence the families would not be able to live in these communities and that is a big reason why I do CPT work. As long as the people of the Opón continue to express their desire and appreciation for our presence, I'll be there.Back to the top
Since returning to Iraq after some time at home CPT Reservist Peggy Gish (Athens, OH) reflected:
"It has been even harder to see military convoys of armored personnel carriers and Humvees constantly patrolling the streets of Baghdad with soldiers pointing their guns at the people as they go by, and military bases in university dorms, schools, and other public buildings around the city. Our driver said that the soldiers driving up and down the streets intimidates the people and is producing a lot of anger in the Iraqi people. And in my short time here also I feel their presence is like a threatening specter hanging over the society."
In early June, CPT members polled Iraqis from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds, collecting over 1,000 responses. When asked about U.S. priorities for their country, those polled responded as follows:
23% - "I believe that the U.S. administration cares about the needs of Iraqi people and will help to meet them very soon."
77% - "I believe that the U.S. administration does not care about the needs of Iraqi people and will not help to meet them very soon."
Since April, the team has documented the degradation of infrastructure after the bombing, the difficulty Iraqi families have in accessing humanitarian assistance from U.S. military liaison office, and the prevalence of unexploded ordnance to which Iraqi civilians are exposed.
Gish also observed, "I hear the majority of the people saying they are glad that Saddam Hussein is gone, but they do not like the occupation. I hear that if there is no progress on rebuilding the society and meeting the needs of the people, as well as moving toward Iraqi self-government, there will be "blood" - much more violence against the occupiers."
Jerry Levin, full-time CPTer and recent Iraq team member, also writes "I now not only worry about Iraqis caught in the escalating violence, I also worry about the many conscience stricken young GIs we encountered in Baghdad. Many, if not all of them, are now in danger of being picked off day by day by an apparently rising number of Iraqis disillusioned by an occupation that they had been led to believe would be liberating. So any day now we may have to face the fact that the number of post-Bush 'mission accomplished' deaths among allied soldiers is going to eclipse the number of those who died during the invasion."
Although anger with the occupation is increasing, there is still hope. Iraqis want peace as much as any people in the world. Iraqis polled by CPT on this question had the following reponses:
14% - "I believe that the only way to improve security is through the use of guns."
41% - "I believe that we have to limit the use of guns to improve security."
45% - "I believe that there are nonviolent ways to improve security."
The Organization for Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) was formed immediately after the war to stop atrocities against women and help women work for legal, social and economic equality. One of OWFI's leaders explained to CPTers, "We were aginst this war for liberation. Yes, we did want to get rid of Saddam Hussein, but not by destroying our cities. This is not a humane way. We see this liberation as one big lie! It is not giving us freedom or really changing the basic system that leaves power and wealth with a small minority of people. We don't hear Bremer speaking out on behalf of women's rights. Many who hated the Baath Party and wanted it gone are now talking about resistance to the occupation. We are afraid that will mean more chaos, resulting in more raping and killing of women."
Gish summarized Iraqi sentiments by saying, "It is OK to come and buy oil, but not to stay and control and occupy Iraq." And Iraqi friend of the team added, "Freedom means that we can do something about the problems here."
We ask CPT supporters to help keep Iraqi civilians' needs at the forefront of our public consciousness. This is difficult when our governments and media have entered a premature "post-war" mind set. Yet, the situation of Afghanistan after the bombing, where warlords battle and little infrastructure or security exists for civilians, provides an urgent reminder that we cannot repeat the same mistakes with Iraq.
CPT Iraq team members in the "post-war" period include: Peggy Gish (Athens, OH), Maureen Jack (Fife, Scotland), Scott Kerr (Downers Grove, IL), Jerry and Sis Levin (Birmingham, AL), Lisa Martens (Winnipeg, MB), Anne Montgomery (New York, NY), Rick Polhamus (Fletcher, OH) and Stewart Vresinga (Lucknow, ON)
Members of the June 7-21 Iraq delegation were: Noga Abarbanel (Ottawa, ON), Yael Barbour, Douglas duCharme and Lee McKenna (Toronto, ON), David Andrus (S. Pasadena, CA), Christine and Ralph Dull (Union, OH), Maxine Nash (Richmond, IN), Mary Hughes Thompson (Los Angeles, CA), and Cor Keijzer (Leeuwarden, Netherlands)Back to the top
For the past 8 months CPT has maintained a team in Asubpeeschoseewagong [Ah-soob-shko-SEE-wah-gongk] (Grassy Narrows) located about 150 kilometres north of Kenora, Ontario.
"Oh, we're learning something new every year. We're always improving. When my dad logged here with horses and huge crews of men, they cut in ways that would be illegal today. But today we do it all by the book."
Jim Ambs, a hard-working man born in the Whiskey Jack Forest 41 years ago and currently contracted by pulp and paper giant Abitibi-Consolidated, sits astride his four-wheeler ATV explaining to CPT that his logging operations are 100% above board.
Ambs would rather use less destructive harvesting techniques than clear-cut that traditional territory of the Annishinaabek. However, he adds, it doesn't make sense economically. Clear-cutting yields the fastest, most efficient profit. "We're living in the real world here. The blockaders have got to understand that."
Ambs, his men and their machines follow the rules set out by Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources. An Abitibi forester arrives in his pick-up truck to "check up" on the loggers as we speak.
Anishinaabek (Ojibway) people of Asubpeeschoseewagong blockade the main entrance to Amb's cutting site later that day. "This is about them," says community member Judy DaSilva, looking at her four children. The blockaders allow loggers to leave the site, and inform them they cannot return.
Ambs expresses his disgust and anger that the blockade is making it tough for him to survive. Abitibi tells him where to cut and he feels he must comply or lose his contract.
Ambs is correct that clear-cutting is legal in Ontario. In fact, Ambs and other workers have a right to work and live in the forest - a Treaty right, guaranteed by Treaty #3 and upheld in the Canadian Consitution Act of 1982. So why the blockade?
Treaty #3 is an international agreement between Canada and the Anishinaabe Nation. It reflects the intention between the indigenous and European settler nations to share the land and the resources.
There are several versions of the terms of Treaty #3, including the oral tradition of Anishinaabe elders affirming that the land is to be shared peacefully among their people and the newcomers.
The Canadian government prefers its written version, in which the chiefs "cede, release, surrender, and yield up...all rights, titles and privileges" to the land.
The settler communities have flooded the Anishinaabe with hydro-electric development, poisoned the fish with mercury, forced aboriginal people into residential schools and reserves, and clear-cut the trees until trapping and hunting become fruitless.
Until right relations are restored between the Anishinaabe and the rest of Canada, until the Treaty is acknowledged, the people whose home is the forest - Grassy Narrows band members and Jim Ambs - will be subjected to the bullying of the Abitibi and the governments of Canada and Ontario.
Is this blockade just about logging, or does it provoke us to ask whether the "real world" really requires us to break our agreements with our Anishinaabe neighbors in order to survive?
CPT workers in Grassy Narrows have included: Matt Schaff (Winnipeg, MB), Erin Kindy (Tiskilwa, IL), Jessica Phillips (Encinal, TX), and Barb Howe (Gainsville, FL)
Members of the June 20-29 delegation to Asubpeeschoseewagong: Scott Diehl (S. Burlington, VT), Judith Gilbert (Toronto, ON), Eric Kurtz (Elkhart, IN), Derrick Martens (Winnipeg, MB).Back to the top
After joining CPT in January, Barb Howe went to Asubpeeschoseewagong (Grassy Narrows, Ontario) while she "waited" indefinitely for a visa to go to Colombia. All of CPT celebrated on June 5 when Barb became the first U.S. CPTer in 15 months to receive a one year volunteer visa for Colombia.
They wait around campfires, burrowing into the smoke and heat trying to keep away biting mosquitos or bitter cold. We sit with them, listening.
Some of them are waiting for the next action. Some of them are waiting for a second chance. Some of them are waiting for word that all is clear and it is once again safe to go home. All of them are waiting for peace. And for justice. We wait with them.
Tobacco is passed around. There is always plenty of food cooked over an open fire. Abundance in the midst of poverty. And at night, there is music and stories that become speeches and speeches that tell the stories of lives that have seen pain, endurance, resistance and redemption.
It's hard to know how to sit with that, those of us who have so much, but have heard these stories and have been made uncomfortable. What right do we have to sit with people with such histories? Can we confront our own guilt in those histories? Can we learn to sit and wait, resisting the urge to jump up and "start something?" Can we recognize that those who know are those who have been there?
Along the Opón river in Colombia, the sun-baked black mud sticks to the bare feet of children. Smoke and the smell of catfish frying in a pan with rice fills the air. There is the sound of gunfire and a helicopter in the distance.
The muddy trails into wooded vacant lots where the homeless set up communal camps lead to rotting tents with disintegrating tarps surrounded by empty bottles and cans and lost-looking men, some still fighting thirty year old wars. Eggs coagulate in a pan over a smoking fire and a helicopter circles overhead.
At the campsite at the blockade on the loggin road at the end of Highway 671, outside the Grassy Narrows reserve in northwestern Ontario, the tires of pickup trucks bringing wood or water from deep flat valleys in the semi-frozen mud of the early morning. The birches and pines creak against themselves and sigh. The sacred fire burns into the night and a helicopter flies overhead.
The powerful of the world rarely sit and wait. Without smoke and fire, without the wet earth, neither smotheringly hot nor bitterly cold, they have no means by which to talk to God. Moss grows over their eyes and ears and they lose their way.
Blessed are those who wait, around the fire, in the mud, under the burning sun, by the churning river, feet buried in snow, head wrapped against the wind, eyes watching into the night, for they shall be fulfilled.Back to the top
On October 22, 2002 a huge crane entered the property on which Danielle Patterson's home stood and proceeded to tear it apart. Several dozen withnesses watched from behind police tape, vocally protesting the 14th home to be demolished on the 32 acre Oneida Indian Territory.
Patterson's home had failed an Oneida Indian Nation of New York, Inc. inspection, an inspection that Patterson and others claim was an excuse for demolishing their homes. Every home that has been inspected and demolished so far has belonged to those who oppose Ray Halbritter's leadership of the Oneida People. CPT has intermittently maintained a presence in the area at the request of the Traditional Oneida.
In September 2002 as many as 70 people had camped in front of Patterson's home to prevent its demolition. Patterson resisted every effort to demolish her home until she was arrested October 19, 2002 by the Oneida Nation Police on questionable charges and taken over 300 miles from her home to a prison near Pittsburg, PC. Threatened with a year in prison and with losing custody of her three children, she reluctantly accepted a plea agreement to a lesser charge and gave permission for her home to be destroyed.
There wasn't much left to look at when I went down Territory Road this spring and visited the site where Danielle Patterson and her three children used to live. There were a few signs of the vibrant family that once lived there, a tooth brush stuck in the mud, a spatula, some wires. I thought that I might take some of the debris with me and use it for presentations much like how I had done when I visited the demolished homes of the Jabber and al Atrash families in Hebron.
I prayed for the peace of those who had lived there and of those responsible for the displacement of this family before being interrupted by the Oneida Nation police, a 56 member all white police force, hired by the Oneida nation. Locals call them "rent-a-cops."
The police asked for my ID. I told them that I was visiting the location where my friend Danielle used to live and praying for the family that used to live there and for those involved in demolishing the home. I told the police that the demolition reminded me of similar events where I had worked in Chiapas and Hebron.
The officers protested that if they were ever asked to do anything illegal or to violate someone's civil rights they would quit. They returned my ID and suggested I ask permission before going onto Oneida land where I had not specifically been invited.
Within three weeks, I was alerted once again that Oneida Nation inspectors had arrived to take the first step towards more home demolitions.
On June 10, at least 14 Oneida Nation police where on Territory Road. They forcibly entered the homes of Diane Shenandoah, the Thomas's and Monica Antone-Watson and conducted brief inspections.
Two other homes belonging to Vicky Shenandoah and Maisie Shenandoah were not entered because no one was home. Papers were left on these homes stating the intention to inspect them also.
To date 15 house inspections have taken place on Territory Road. Fourteen homes have been demolished. Only eight homes remain in the traditional tribal area.
CPTers Cliff Kindy and Anne Herman went to Oneida on June 24 for a period of three weeks to help stave off more demolitions.Back to the top
Members of the Colorado CPT have been involved as peacekeepers and in the training of peacekeepers. For example, after several incidents between police and students at the University of Colorado, the team worked to prevent further violence. Colorado CPT has served as peacekeepers at peace rallies and helped to train people from Denver going to the West Bank and Gaza with the International Solidarity Movement.
One of CPT Colorado's latest peacekeeping efforts occured in Longmont, where concerned citizens have been holding a regular Saturday vigil since shortly after 9/11. The focus is on nonviolence and the signs that are displayed change according to national and international events.
As the Bush administration turned up the heat on Iraq, the vigil began to attract both more participants and more attention from some militant pro-war people.
After the U.S. attacked Iraq, about twenty individuals who supported the war showed up to disrupt the vigil, acting aggressively towards the fifty folks in the peace group.
At the invitation of the Longmont vigilers, five members of CPT-Colorado attended the subsequent vigil as peacekeepers. Some Longmont police were also present. The Longmont peace group attempted to defuse the situation by moving a short distance away from the pro-war group and CPTers took up a position between the two groups. The pro-war folks shouted insults but were not physically threatening during this vigil. Since then the situation has been calm.
CPT Northern Indiana
A small group withing CPT-NI has committed to gathering once a month to pray, plan, and meet with a legislator for the next two years. The objective of the group is to get to know the congressional aids and learn what issues each staff person covers. The task force then intends to leverage those relationships to share the concerns that CPTers from the field express. Another small group within CPT-NI is forming to focus specifically on Colombia issues.
Uniting The Races For Homeland Security and World PeaceSeptember 25-28, 2003
John Knox Presbyterian Church
Sponsored by Christian Peacemaker Teams and Every Church a Peace Church
Dr. Bernard LaFayette ..........nonviolence in an era of neocolonialism and terroism
Lisa Martens........CPT in poetry and story
Ruby Nell Sales........from fragmentation to community
Contact CPT at email@example.comBack to the top
The death and injury of members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) earlier this year and the recent incarceration of CPTer Greg Rollins, who was held in Israel's Ramle Prison for 17 days without charges, prompted this dialogue. The comments of Father Robert Assaly reach to the depths of CPT work because we always seek the advice and critical reflections of local partners and international supporters, then attempt to integrate competing voices into a coherent action plan.
Father Robert Assaly, Coordinator of Canadian Friends of Sabeel, Ottawa, ON: I am concerned that some internationals this year have crossed a line to provocation, have overstepped the bounds of reasonable behavior and have therefore brought upon us the restrictions and treatment which Rollins faced in Israel.
I am further concerned, in terms of the treatment of many of the internationals, that it is the internationals' practices inconsistent with Geneva Conventions that is drawing an Israeli reponse, much of which is perfectly legitimate and legal. By exploiting Israeli mistreatment of internationals without acknowledging the provocative behavior of some internationals and, at times, a callous disregard for Palestinians under occupation, I fear we are walking into an unwise if not dangerous space. In that space there is the undermining of international law upon which is founded the rightful Palestinian claims to justice.
Furthermore, there is movement from a focus on protected persons - Palestinians under occupation - to transient internationals who are drawing attention away from the real issues of occupation and peaceful resolution.
We must ask the question of how narrowly pursuing this issue both jeopardizes the ability of more and more internationals to serve in the Occupied Territories (and who benefits from that), and gives perhaps de jure legitimacy, or at least an appearance thereof, to more sweeping Israeli measures against internationals.
I have sensed a fear among some Palestinians here about expressing themselves on this issue out of concern they may alienate precious supporters. If this is borne out, our pursuit of this whole issue may in fact be one which further marginalizes an already tested community.
Dianne Roe, CPT Hebron: In early spring 2001, I attended a meeting in Beit Sahour that, along with other such meetings, led to the beginnings of the movement that would become ISM. It was a movement that arose out of necessity. We [CPT] were joining in the call. It was a call fraught with risks. I believe that there will always be over-zealous people responding to such a call. While we have been careful to keep our own accountability structure intact, we also wanted ISM to succeed and grow, and our best nonviolence trainers assisted in that. We at CPT have often worked along with ISM. ISM has attracted high energy, high quality dedicated people, and has tried to weed out the loose cannons. Last summer CPT facilitated the placing of six ISM volunteers in Beit Ummar. Sure, they were young and zealous, but they accomplished much and the need is great. None of us succeeded in the plum harvest. But the farmers who were trying to get to their fields have not forgotten the young men who tried to help.
Rich Meyer, CPT Hebron Support Staff: I know that ISM has been diligent in resisting attempts to make their bravery or risk or punishment the focus. In reporting on the incarceration of Rollins, we also tried to keep the focus on the Occupation: What will happen to Palestinians in Hebron if CPTers are restricted in human rights monitoring? What does the Israeli military want to do in Hebron that they don't want a Canadian watching?
I'm sure that there are people who think CPT is regularly provocative and unreasonable. I'm equally sure that there are people who think CPT is too tame, or too attentive to Israeli peacemakers, or too ready to chat with Israeli soldiers.
There probably are individual internationals who have croseed the line into provocation; probably some who overstepped what I would call smart, strategic behavior. But I don't understand why anyone should stay within reasonable behavior in the face of a military occupation that as routine policy uses collective punishment (Fourth Geneva Convention - Article 33), demolishes homes (Article 53), colonizes land (Article 49), and closes schools (Article 50).
I am not particularly persuaded by the obvious fact that some Palestinians would think that some internationals are too confrontational. Palestinians are also a diverse population. We try our best to consult with people whose judgment we trust and bring our ideas to Palestinian advisors for discussion.
LeAnne Clausen, CPT Hebron: Since the current Intifada began (less than three years ago), a half-dozen international accompaniment/solidarity programs have joined CPT in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Of these, only one was organized by people with significant prior experience in violence reduction. These groups have faced a rather steep (and rocky) learning curve.
Having worked closely with many of these groups, I have been privileged to hear the internal debates that arise when volunteers actions are met with unintended negative consequences. Some groups have used these experiences as learning opportunities and are willing to make changes. As a result, those groups have become increasingly vibrant and credible organizations. ISM and IWPS (International Women's Peace Service) are two good examples. The World Council of Church's Ecumenical Partnership Program show signs of critical engagement and learning. Other groups have not handled these questions as well and likely as a result still struggle to get off the ground.
I agree with many of Fr. Assaly's concerns. Our human emotions can betray our peaceful intentions in the face of extreme brutality. We must all confess to this. I have seen my own teammates "lose their cool" in tense moments of confronting violence; I have seen colleagues in other organizations reluctant to disengage from an action when Palestinian locals changed their minds about participating; or frustrated when the local community was slow to respond with enthusiasm towards plans proposed by internationals.
These tensions seem almost quaranteed in cross-cultural efforts. The key to how serious a liability this becomes to the larger goal is whether or not the internationals involved are willing to reflect critically on their actions after the fact, both among themselves and with the advice of Palestinian partners. It is a process that must be continually revisited in order to remain relevant and helpful.
I see this happening in the groups I mentioned earlier, and this is where I find encouragement that we are making our way slowly on the right path despite the targeting of peace workers this past spring.Back to the top
Pledge of Allegiance: Texas law now requires the recitation of the "Pledge of Allegiance" to the United States and Texas flags in schools, followed immediately by a minute of silence. Some Christians consider reciting the "Pledge" and placing the hand on the heart to be an act of worship and thus, idolatry. ["I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."] This harkens back to the Roman Empire, when "Caesar is Lord" was both a pledge of allegiance and a declaration of religious belief (the Emperor was deemed divine). Thus, the Christian response that "Jesus is Lord," while definitely a call to faith, was also an act of high treason punishable by death. The Texas law includes a provision for parents to send a written request to excuse their children from reciting the "Pledge." CPTer Duane Ediger (Dallas) is working on several versions of an alternative "Pledge of Allegiance Without Coercion." See www.dallaspeacecenter.org/alternativepledges.htm.
Israeli Draft Resisters: 100 Israeli draft resisters who refuse to serve in the Occupied Territories have published a call in the Palestinian press for an end to suicide bombings. Initiated by five draft resistors now awaiting hearings on their appeals to be allowed to do civilian national service instead of service in "the occupation army," the letter says: "The suicide bombings by Palestinian organizations kill innocent people - children, the elderly, men and women, Jews, Arabs and foreigners, supporters of the occupation and opponents of the occupation... These actions are not moral and random killings horrify most Israelis to the point that it makes the work of justifying the occupation much easier for Sharon and his colleagues. Rallies, general strikes, and joint activities with the Israeli peace movement are all much more effective acts of resistance than any suicide." It was the first time the refusenik movement, which now has 524 registrated conscripts and reservists, have undertaken an action other than individually refusing to serve and going to jail.
Delegations:Colombia: September 27 - October 9, 2003
Middle East: September 16-28, November 20 - December 2, 2003
Asubpeeschoseewagong (Grassy Narrows, Ontario): Dates to be announced
Iraq: Dates to be announced
Peacemaker Training:Summer 2003: July 17 - August 14 (application deadline: May 1)
Winter 2004: December 27, 2003 - January 23, 2004 (application deadline: October 1)
Christian Peacemaker Congress VII:September 25-28, 2003; Youngstown, OH; "Uniting the Races for Homeland Security and World Peace."
CPT Steering Committee Meetings:Fall: October 30 - November 1, 2003; Northern Indiana.
Spring: March 25-27, 2004; Chicago, IL.
Back to the top
Back to the top
Signs of the Times is produced four times a year. Batches of 10 or more are available to institutions, congregations, and local groups for distribution. Any part of Signs of the Times may be used without permission. Please send CPT a copy of the reprint. Your contributions finance CPT ministries including the distribution of 12,000 copies of Signs of the Times.
The work of CPT is guided by a 15-person STEERING COMMITTEE: Bob Bartel, Paul Dodd, Bill Durland, Walter Franz, David Jehnsen, Cliff Kindy, Susan Mark Landis, Lee McKenna, Maxine Nash, Orlando Redekopp, Hedy Sawadsky, Muriel Stackley, John Stoner, Rick Ufford-Chase, Brian Young.
STAFF: Gene Stoltzfus - Director/Program Coordinator; Kryss Chupp - Training Coordinator/Colombia Project Support; Claire Evans - Personnel Coordinator/Delegation Coordinator; Mark Frey - Administrative Coordinator; Sara Reschly - Training and Regional Group Development; Rich Meyer - Hebron Project Support/ CSD; Kathie Uhler - CSD; Bob Holmes - Pastoral Support; Doug Pritchard - CPT Canada Coordinator.
CHRISTIAN PEACEMAKER CORPS: Kristin Anderson, Chris Brown, LeAnne Clausen, Claire Evans, Mark Frey, Barb Howe, Diane Janzen, Kathleen Kern, Cliff Kindy, Erin Kindy, Jerry Levin, JoAnne Lingle, Lisa Martens, Rich Meyer, Anne Montgomery, Jessica Phillips, Rick Polhamus, Sara Reschly, Sue Rhodes, Dianne Roe, Greg Rollins, Matt Schaaf, Pierre Shantz, Carol Spring, Charles Spring, Kathie Uhler, Stewart Vriesinga, Keith Young.
RESERVE CORPS: Jane Adas, Scott Albrecht, Nait Alleman, Art Arbour, Fred Bahnson, Matthew Bailey-Dick, Nina Bailey-Dick, Benno Barg, Nathan Bender, Christy Bischoff, Lisa Brightup, Paul Brohaugh, Gary Brooks, Ellis Brown, Tricia Brown, Chris Buhler, Judith Bustany, Robin Buyers, Pat Cameron, Bob Carlsten, Elluage Carson, Cat Grambles, David Cockburn, Dan Dale, Rusty Dinkins-Curling, Bill Durland, Genie Durland, Korey Dyck, Duane Ediger, John Engle, John Finlay, Jim Fitz, Christine Forand, Alyce Foster, Angela Freeman, Lorne Friesen, Ron Friesen, Art Gish, Peggy Gish, Dorothy Goertz, Amy Gomez, Michael Goode, Jesse Griffin, Matt Guynn, Shady Hakim, Carol Hanna, Wes Hare, Julie Hart, Anne Herman, Donna Hicks, Ben Horst, Tracy Hughes, Cole Hull, Maureen Jack, David Janzen, Rebecca Johnson, Kathy Kamphoefner, Kathie Kampmann-Namphy, Joanne Kaufman, Bourke Kennedy, Scott Kerr, Joel Klassen, Mary Lawrence, Wendy Lehman, Gerry Lepp, Gina Lepp, Sis Levin, Jim Loney, Jan Long, Reynaldo Lopez, Murray Lumley, Barb Martens, Elayne McClanen, Patty McKenna, Diego Méndez, Carl Meyer, Bruce Miller, Cynthia Miller, Marilyn Miller, Robin Miller, David Milne, Phyllis Milton, Bob Naiman, Paul Neufeld Weaver, Henri Ngolo, Wanda Ngolo, Pieter Niemeyer, Germana Nijim, William Payne, Paul Pierce, Jane Pritchard, Kathy Railsback, Vern Riedeger, Carol Rose, Jim Roynon, Jacqui Rozier, Stepheni Sakanee, Jim Satterwhite, Eric Schiller, Betty Scholten, Chris Schweitzer, Janet Shoemaker, Lena Siegers, Allan Slater, Char Smith, Jerry Stein, Harriet Taylor, Kurtis Unger, Matthew Wiens, Dick Williams, Gretchen Williams, Doug Wingeier, Jane MacKay Wright, Joshua Yoder, Mary Yoder.
ASSOCIATES/VOLUNTEERS: Building Manager: Paul Becher; PLUS the indispensable crew of volunteers at all work sites!