By Kathleen Kern
I was in al-Khalil (Hebron) on September 11, 2001. Old men approached me, eyes full of tears, telling me that God would help me and my fellow citizens. Palestinian friends called us, sobbing, as they described what they were watching on TV. I remember experiencing a reaction I had not felt before, and for which I had no name.
Almost ten years later, Palestin-ian’s reactions to the killing of Osama Bin Laden flowed over me. I experienced that same nameless feeling.
Two of my teammates heard an Israeli settler telling a soldier, “It’s great that Bin Laden was killed; CPTers should be next.”
An Israeli police officer at a checkpoint told us, “Saddam Hussein is gone; Bin Laden is gone. When we kill Nasrallah (the Secretary General of Hezbollah), Israel and the U.S. will have peace.” I told him, “There will be others to take their places.” “Then we will kill them too!” he said cheerfully.
A Hebronite friend reported that the majority of Palestinians did not care about Bin Laden’s death; that a small minority was upset about the killing; that a much larger minority, himself included, thought Bin Laden deserved his fate. Bin Laden was responsible for the deaths of thousands of Muslims in the U.S., Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Jordan. “The Qur’an forbids the killing of civilians,” he said, “and it has an absolute prohibition on Muslims killing other Muslims.”
While I am still waiting to understand my feelings, I am drawn to these words of Martin Luther King taped on the wall of CPT’s apartment:
“THE ULTIMATE WEAKNESS OF VIOLENCE IS THAT IT IS A DESCENDING SPIRAL, BEGETTING THE VERY THING IT SEEKS TO DESTROY. INSTEAD OF DIMINISHING EVIL, IT MULTIPLIES IT. THROUGH VIOLENCE YOU MAY MURDER THE LIAR, BUT YOU CANNOT MURDER THE LIE NOR ESTABLISH TRUTH. THROUGH VIOLENCE, YOU MURDER THE HATER, BUT YOU DO NOT MURDER HATE. IN FACT, VIOLENCE MERELY INCREASES HATE. RETURNING VIOLENCE FOR VIOLENCE MULTIPLIES VIOLENCE, ADDING DEEPER DARKNESS TO A NIGHT ALREADY DEVOID OF STARS.HATE CANNOT DRIVE OUT HATE; ONLY LOVE CAN DO THAT.”