"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
Monday, January 22, 2007 Abbie Coburn's Palestine Journal -- Part VII
This is the next to last installment (though Abbie might write occasionally when she's back). As always, published with permission.
I could make a career out of being critical. Critical of the situation here, critical of what's being done, critical of who's doing what, and who's not doing what. In my idealism I see only big steps. Drastic changes that need to happen. I have little patience for small steps. And yet it seems that in small steps is the only place where change is found these days. Am I giving in? Am I thinking inside the box too much? What choice do I have?
Here's some examples of solidarity and nonviolent efforts that make a difference ere. You can check them out and see what you think. These are vehicles that extraordinary people are using to make sure that peace and justice are brought to this area. They are making sacrifices that I am yet unwilling to make, and they do it without the prospect of hope, because I fear there is little hope here.
Last week my group (birthright unplugged) visited the village of Haris in the Sulfit region, north of Ramallah. It's a small agricultural village, slowly being surrounded by the Apartheid Wall, as settlers creep closer and closer. There, in a small apartment, is an organization called the International Womens Peace Service. Started about 5 years ago they have been a continuous presence of women from all over the world who join in nonviolent solidarity with Palestinians. They are present at the Olive harvest, at checkpoints, at house demolitions, anywhere where international presence may make a difference. That's girl power for you. (Ali Michael - I couldn't help but think of you). There were two women from South Africa there when we were there and they talked about all the work they had been doing and ways that they are trying to tie the apartheid in S. Africa to the apartheid here.
The past few days, since my group ended, I've been able to meet with some Christian folk to figure out what they're up to. A hot topic around here is accompaniment programs, two of which are Christian. Christian Peacemaker Teams is located primarily in Hebron, a city south of Bethlehem, and the city where my group was denied access to a Palestinian's home, for all of you following along. CPT accompanies people to checkpoints, kids to school, hospital visits, often stepping in the way of Israeli soldiers harassing Palestinians. What astounds me about them is that all of them that I've met have been retired folks from Canada and Europe. They're not scruffy idealistic backpackers. They've lived 65 years and yet still see this as their way to make the world better.
The other group is EAPPI - Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel. They've got folks all over - accompanying at checkpoints, making sure Paletinians are able to get to the hospital, etc. They have impressed me the most, simply by the people I've met who are here with them, but I'll know more tomorrow after I meet with them. As well, they are very international, but hardly any Americans, sadly. Yet, are we surprised?
I could go on. And on. But, that's what's been on my mind the past couple days. How is the presence of internationals being used to support the human rights of Palestinians? How is being a witness to this apartheid making a difference.
And again, is this enough? Is it enough to bear witness, to stop the bullet, to raise our hands in protest? I fear not because, as anyone will tell you, the situation is only getting worse. Imagine - everyday your life is getting worse. Every single day. When is enough enough? When does oppression end, and life begin? What does one person have to give in this world? When can we stop being pragmatic and start allowing ourselves to be idealistic?
Another day in the occupied territories. So many stories left untold. More to come. I hope.
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"Christ's example is being
demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy,
which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't,
it will be irrelevant."