16 July 2013
AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): New book, Letters from Apartheid Street: A Christian Peacemaker in Occupied Palestine now available
In the winter of 2012, Michael McRay interned for two months with the Christian Peacemaker Team in Hebron and then traveled to Nablus, Ramallah, Qalqilyah, and other locations in the West Bank. His time in Hebron coincided with the arrival of a particularly brutal battalion of the Golani Brigade and McRay helped put a report together about its abuses that was widely distributed by the United Nations and other international groups
McRay kept an extensive journal about his experiences that became his new book, Letters from Apartheid Street: A Christian Peacemaker in Occupied Palestine. Several of the reflections in the book first appeared on CPTnet. In “Welcoming the Enemy,” he writes of the first time he monitored Israeli soldiers with automatic weapons, while they swept through Hebron’s Old City, detaining Palestinian men and checking their IDs:
As they approached the end of the Old City, one of the soldiers in the back turned and quickly pointed the barrel of his weapon into an elderly man’s shop. The storeowner sat out in front, his head just beneath the level of the gun’s barrel. He simply looked up at the soldiers passing his shop, bowed his head, lifted up his hand, palm upwards, and said, “Ahlan wasahlan (you are most welcome).” His response so caught me off guard I laughed out loud. Here was an Israeli soldier, a member of the military occupying this Palestinian man’s land, who walked the streets of Hebron to protect the Jewish settlers who were illegally taking more and more land from this man and his people. In short, there walked his enemy.
And this Muslim man extended his hand in humble invitation. Resistance.
CPT’s Palestine Support Team Coordinator, Tarek Abuata, writes of the book
As a Palestinian Christian peace worker, I've learned that to truthfully and authentically do human rights work halfway across the world, we have to simultaneously reach much closer to home, into our own hearts. Michael's reflections into his internal struggles as a Christian international peace worker, intertwined with the external struggles of facing Israel's Occupation, are an important read for human rights workers who want to do this work with integrity, but more importantly, who want to learn how to be the change that they want to see in the world.
Conflict Transformation authority John Paul Lederach
writes, "Our field needs passionate, on-the-ground, firsthand
descriptions of the challenges of constructively engaging settings of deep and
painful conflict. McRay's book
provides such a window," and Nobel Peace Prize nominee and CPT associate
Kathy Kelly calls it “surprisingly invitational…worth reading and
rereading.” Other academic
plaudits for the book are available on McRay’s website and the Wipf&Stock
Before joining the Hebron team, McRay had visited Palestine and Israel numerous times.