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December 3rd

Prayers for Peacemakers December 3, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers December 3, 2014

Pray for the community of El Guayabo, who are feeling discouraged that the Colombian authorities appear to be taking no action to address the illegal eviction of October 29, 2014 when riot police removed the community's school teacher from his home. The powerful landowner Rodrigo Lopez Henao who took control of the house added additional armed men to guard it on Tuesday evening.

 Epixel for Sunday, December 7, 2014
Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his
 people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.
Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that his glory may
 dwell in our land.
Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss
 each other.
Psalm 85:8-10
 
 *epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing with a text from the upcoming Sunday's  
Revised Common Lectionary  readings.

December 2nd

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON) REFLECTION: Practicing gratitude in the middle of it all

Around the world today, non-profits, NGOs, families, businesses, community centers, and individuals around the world come together for one common purpose. Christian Peacemaker Teams is here in Hebron in solidarity with local partners whose safety, homes and livelihoods are threatened by the Israeli military occupation. Will you contribute $55 today for #GivingTuesday? With just 365 people giving $55 each, we can cover the cost of one peacemaker in the field for a year. #BeTheChange

Just $55 supports a peacemaker in the field for a day. 

Thousand-year-old olive tree overlooking the
city of Hebron.

In the U.S., the end of November means the celebration of Thanksgiving.  Here in Hebron, we may sometimes ask:  For what can we possibly be thankful? We see teargas lobbed at children regularly, men and boys detained daily, frequent harassment of Palestinians.  Violence.  Hopelessness.

It is in places like Hebron where we must practice gratitude, where we must not let the bad that we see eclipse the good—that, against all odds—abounds.  For how can we possibly harness and share goodness if we are unable even to recognize it around us?

And so we, the current CPT Palestine team, offer the following—the places and times where light breaks through darkness, where hope conquers hopelessness, where love wins over hatred, fear, and apathy: 

December 1st

BORDERLANDS REFLECTION: “What did you go out to the desert to see? Luke 7:26

“Our work is done for today,” Joel yelled across the wash as he waved his arms emphatically.  I was puzzled.  We were still a good four miles from our destination, Red Tail water tank.  Joel shouted again.  â€śWe're done!  Come over here!”  As I approached, no further words were needed.  A few feet in front of him lay a sun-bleached human skull, eyeless sockets looking south, resting starkly among the coal black volcanic rocks strewn across this ancient plain.

Yes, our work was done for the day in that mid-afternoon moment of Thanksgiving eve.  I took off my hat and sat in silent prayer.  Joel called 911.

Joel, Director of Operations for Humane Borders, a Tucson-based humanitarian aid organization, and I were conducting the annual assessment of water tanks in the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge and replacing the weathered blue flags that prominently identify each tank.  The person whose skull we came upon had missed the nearest tank by a few miles.  S/he was the eleventh set of human remains recovered in the Tucson sector of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands since 1 October 2014.

November 27th

CPT INTERNATIONAL REFLECTION: Treasure in Ferguson, Colombia, Palestine, Iraqi Kurdistan, and Turtle Island

Since a St. Louis, Missouri prosecutor and Grand Jury have determined that Police Officer Darren Wilson killing unarmed teenager Michael Brown did not merit a trial, I have been busy tweeting #Ferguson on the Christian Peacemaker Team Twitter account.  Those tweets have been getting a lot of retweets.  We have no people working in Ferguson and I have asked myself why I am inundating the account. 

I think it has to do with the disposability of human life, with the contempt shown to Michael Brown when the authorities left his body in the street for four and a half hours and did not bother interviewing key witnesses to the shooting for weeks (until there was a public outcry.)  That contempt connected directly with our work in Colombia, Iraqi Kurdistan, Palestine, with indigenous communities in North America, and with migrants in Europe.  In all these cases, people in power have deemed the people we work with disposable. 

November 26th

Prayers for Peacemakers, November 26, 3014

Prayers for Peacemakers, November 26, 3014

Pray for the Palestinian children who must attend schools in and around the Old City of Hebron.  Because of recent unrest in the region, the Israeli military has employed even more excessive use of teargas and sound bombs when the children walk to school.

Epixel for Sunday, November 30, 2014
O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at
your presence--
Isaiah 64:1
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing with a text from the upcoming Sunday's  
Revised Common Lectionary  readings.

November 21st

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Israeli military and settlers close down Old City of Hebron to Palestinians

An Israeli settler screams at young Palestinians in the court yard of
the Old City of Hebron.

Every Saturday a group of Israeli settlers and Jewish tourists, escorted by dozens of Israeli soldiers, parade through the Old City on a tour, in which they hear an exclusive rightwing Jewish narrative of the city's history.  Last Saturday, however, was a holiday commemorating Abraham’s purchase of land in Hebron to bury his wife Sarah, so an unusually large number of Israeli settlers, Jewish tourists (many from New York), and Israeli border police and soldiers were present.  For nearly three hours, hundreds of Israeli settlers and occupying forces overtook the Old City, restricting Palestinians' freedom of movement and causing shops to close early. 

While a normal Saturday tour means restriction of Palestinian movement and disruption of the lives of those living and working in the Old City, last Saturday’s holiday tour created greater disruptions.  The Ibrahimi Mosque was closed, which meant that not only could Muslims not pray there, but that the checkpoint leading to it was closed.  When the checkpoint is closed, Palestinians have to take much more circuitous (and hilly) routes from one side of the mosque to the other, adding time and difficulty to daily tasks.

The settlers and tourists, many of whom were young men, danced, jumped, and chanted Israeli nationalistic slogans as they slowly made their way through the Old City, blocking passage for residents and creating noise that interfered with any sense of normalcy.

As CPTers and representatives from other NGOs stood along the route, settlers and tourists questioned them, sometimes aggressively, about their presence and work and accused them of anti-semitism.  One tourist threatened to hit a CPTer; another asked a CPTer to take a picture and then threatened to break the camera (which he'd already tried to handle as he passed by).  A number of tourists said to observers, "Welcome to Israel," though no country in the world recognizes the Palestinian Occupied Territories as part of the nation of Israel.

November 20th

Prayers for Peacemakers, 20 November 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, 20 November 2014

Pray for the work of CPT’s partner, Zhiyan Group, in Iraqi Kurdistan.  CPT recently accompanied Zhiyan Group to Khanke refugee camp in Duhok province, where it helped the women of Zhiyan Group collect 961 names of people kidnapped by ISIS/DAESH.

Epixel* for Sunday November 23, 2014
Zhiyan Group collecting documentation from families in Khanke Camp
For thus says the Lord GOD: I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out
… I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, I will seek the lost, and I will bring back
the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak Ezekiel 34:11, 16a

*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing with a text from the upcoming Sunday's  Revised  Common Lectionary  readings.

November 19th

EUROPE: The Wealth Gap and its consequences on asylum seekers’ fates

 

 
 Refugees forced to sleep in the port of 
Mytilene on Lesvos, Greece

The consequences of the wealth gap in the world of the migrant is most stark when we hear the news of those migrants who have drowned in the sea, stifled to death in the container lorries, or who are raped while trekking through remote areas, tortured in the desert or even killed by the smugglers.

To avoid the above options, migrants who have the money can pay for much safer ways of entering countries illegally, or depositing an incredible amount of money to apply for legal immigration.  However, some asylum seekers must cross borders illegally at least once.

Some asylum seekers who receive asylum in a neighboring country after lodging an application have to wait a few years to be transferred to the third safe country.  People from this group may get stuck in the neighboring country like Turkey until they can pay off high resident fees.

November 18th

SOUTH HEBRON HILLS: Road to Resistance—Palestinians repair thoroughfare in nonviolent action

On Saturday, 15 November 2014 the South Hebron Hills Popular Committee (a nonviolent Palestinian organisation resisting occupation in the South Hebron Hills region), coordinated an action to develop the road that connects the city of Yatta to At-Tuwani and surrounding villages located in the area Israel has designated Firing Zone 918.  Under the watchful eyes of the Israeli military and police, the action was attended by members of the South Hebron Hills Popular Committee, residents of At-Tuwani, Israeli peace activists from Ta’ayush, and internationals from Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and EAPPI.

The unpaved road that runs between villages and the town of Yatta is the access route that Palestinians travel for employment, education, water, healthcare, and other necessities of life.  Surrounded by the tarmacked roads developed by the Israeli state for the settlers living illegally in the area, the rubble and holes in the Palestinian roads illustrate the stark inequalities of power that characterise the Israeli occupation, and the specific context of the South Hebron Hills and Firing Zone 918. 

November 17th

COLOMBIA: Communities around El Guayabo establish a “Space for Peace and Non-Violent Resistance against Dispossession.”

On 14 November, seventy community members of Guayabo established a space for peace.  The women led the march, flying banners and singing, setting up camp around the house currently occupied by Rodrigo LĂłpez Henao’s men since the eviction of 29 October 2014.

Since the occupation of the property, LĂłpez Henao’s  men have destroyed about 100 plantain trees.  The community began replanting the trees with recovered sees on 14 November.

The community intends to remain on the land surrounding the house until their situation is legally resolved and the authorities return their land to them.  Through the below declaration of a space for peace and their commitment to nonviolent acts of resistance they hope to make their situation more visible.