Sophia's Peace Work

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Shepherds, Ar-Ram & Seeds

Soon I'll be heading off to the Southern Hebron Hills to the village of Suseya. The Palestinians are struggling to hold on to their land which is squeezed between two Israeli Settlements. There has been a lot of harassment and they have asked Internationals to come down and accompany them. So Maia, my team mate from D.C. and I will be joining representatives from Operation Dove (silly name I know but nice people), an Italian faith-based peace group very similar to CPT. I'll be staying with the shepherds ... hangin' with the sheep and the goats, living in a tent, and out of communication for awhile.

In addition to the lock-down that continues in the Hebron district (likely to continue until the end of September once the Jewish Holidays are over with), there is a demonstration on Monday at Ar-Ram as community in East Jerusalem. I've included some info below from Ta'ayush, an Israeli Peace organization:

A concrete wall is rapidly being built to surround the Ar-Ram neighborhood from all sides. Tens of thousands of people, the entire community of this East Jerusalem neighborhood (the vast majority of whom are official residents of Jerusalem, paying municipal taxes and holding "blue" Jerusalem IDs) will be closed inside a ghetto, isolated from the rest of the world. The wall seriously disrupts the recently begun school year. Educational institutions in Ar-Ram and in its vicinity are on the verge of being closed down, as the wall prevents the students and the teachers from reaching them.

Thus, for instance, "Al Yatim al Arabi", an institute which for the past sixty years made sure that Palestinian orphans go through high-school and learn a profession, is about to close down. About 95% of its students and teachers - several hundreds strong - will be left on the other side of the wall from the school. Once the wall is complete, the students will find themselves in the streets, with no education and no professional training.

One is left to wonder how this will improve security for the Israelis.

I'll just end with a last few thoughts before I head off for the hills. There are some benefits to being with a faith-based organization that at first I somewhat resisted. Every morning we have worship. I used to resent getting up for what I thought was just a lot of off-key hymn singing and rather snoozer readings from the Bible. That certainly happens but sometimes I am pleasantly surprised.

This morning we spoke about the challenges we face doing this work and the depression we feel when it seems the problems are sooooo insurmountable. Chris, a team member from California, told us a story of a bus ride he took with an Israeli peace activist. He'd been complaining about how difficult the work was and how nothing seemed to change.

"Yes, you're probably right," the man said, "You are not likely to change a thing." Then he paused before he said, "But that's not your mission here. Your mission is only to try."

Ahhh, I thought, in all this time, I've gotten away from that very thought that motivated me to come to the Middle East in the first place. It was this thought that allowed me to go to such crazy places as Iraq and Israel/Palestine ... even in the face of all the people who told me that it was foolish to go.

They were probably right. It is rather foolish. But I still agree with what Maia said this morning, "I'm not here to make things grow. I'm just here to plant a few seeds."


Post a Comment

<< Home