HEBRON: Confrontation and reconciliation

CPTnet
11 January 2005

HEBRON: Confrontation and reconciliation

by Art Gish

School patrol started Monday, 2 January, in Hebron with Israeli soldiers
cursing me and Sarah, another Christian Peacemaker member. When one of the
soldiers spat at some school girls, I said, "Let's treat everyone with
respect. Spitting at girls is not respectful." Two of the soldiers yelled
curses at me and told me to shut up and leave the area. I replied, "Let's
be respectful. We want shalom," and refused to leave the area.

On Tuesday morning, an Israeli soldier told team members on school patrol
that if he saw the old bearded man (me), he would slap a Palestinian. On
Tuesday afternoon, another team member, Lorin, and I attended a political
rally in the Old City of Hebron. Toward the end of the rally, six Israeli
soldiers, with their M-16s ready to fire, invaded the rally. We immediately
stood between the soldiers and the several hundred people at the rally and
asked why they had come. We received no answer. Within a few minutes, the
soldiers left.

On Wednesday morning, John, another team member, and I went on school patrol
and met the same six soldiers we had encountered at the same place Monday
morning. When the soldiers saw us, they started chanting, "Kill CPT, kill
CPT."

I thought, "This should be interesting." I was glad that they were
expressing their anger so directly. Soon they wanted to talk with us,
including the one who had spat at the girls two days earlier. We talked
about the possibilities of peace and nonviolence, and parted on a friendly
note.

On our walk back home, we encountered another group of soldiers who wanted
to talk with us. These were the same soldiers who had invaded the rally the
day before and the same soldiers who had invaded and searched the Christian
Peacemaker Team apartment the week before, which resulted in our team being
taken to the police station.

I had been doing much reflecting about how confrontational we should be with
soldiers. Had I been too assertive? After these two positive interactions,
I decided I need to continue confronting soldiers when they act
oppressively.