AL-KHALIL (HEBRON) REFLECTION: The Israeli Paradigm, Part I

 I have been reading Ilan PappĆ©ā€™s (1) book Forgotten Palestinians.  I find his writing to be informative and thought provoking and so was excited a couple weeks ago, when the team and I got a chance to hear PappĆ© speak at the Alternative Information Centre in Beit Sahour.

What PappĆ© said offered an alternative to much of the discourse surrounding Israel and Palestine.  PappĆ© argued that most people, even those who see themselves as being pro-Palestinian, still speak and think within the paradigm (2) created by Zionists.

According to PappĆ©, in this paradigm of peace the Zionists saw that they must establish full control over the West Bank, to fulfill their vision of the State of Israel.  He likened the situation in the West Bank to that of a prison.  If Palestinians within the West Bank are willing to work within the framework of the paradigm and ā€˜behave,ā€™ they will receive rewards and benefits, and the prison will resemble an open detention center where people have some freedoms and can move around somewhat freely.  These benefits, PappĆ© stated, could even incorporate a state, but it would be a state without sovereignty, and a state that was still within the Zionist paradigm, and therefore still ultimately under Zionist control.  However, if the Palestinians dare to challenge the paradigm they will find themselves in a maximum-security prison where Israel severely restricts their rights and limits their freedoms.

IRAQI KURDISTAN REFLECTION: "ā€¦live justly and peaceably with all creation."

The organizers hoped that the Green Festival would bring some of these issues to the attention of the Kurds of Suleimaniya.  And they were successful.  Around 2000 people left their leisurely stroll around the park to listen to Kurdish and American music and look at the displays.  They were able to see that the ubiquitous 250-millilitre water bottle could be threaded onto a wooden frame to create a green house.  They heard from high school students that wind and solar power might work well in the region.  They saw the advantages of placing trash into receptacles that would go to the dump.  They took in the beauty, through nature photographs and paintings, of their region, which reminded them that they must find ways of preserving it.

IRAQI KURDISTAN REFLECTION: Warmongering and the KRG/Iranian border

The whole world knows that war is a terrible thing.  Every nation on the earth has witnessed first hand the truths of war.  Yet even with these first hand experiences, governments claiming to represent the best interests of their people are still willing to inflict war on others.
Currently the war drum is beating against Iran.  Pundits and politicians, backed by various lobbies as well as Israeli and European allies are calling for it.

COLOMBIA: Where two or three... or fifteen are gathered

 Just weeks after the celebration of International Women's Day, on 22 March, the Popular Women's Organization (OFP) asked us to visit the house of a friend and OFP colleague, named Iluminada.  Her neighbor, a man who identifies himself as a paramilitary, attacked and threatened her in her home.   In a demonstration of solidarity, eleven women from the OFP showed up to her house that morning, plus four CPTers.

IRAQI KURDISTAN REFLECTION: I am afraid of bombing. (And there is shelling too)

[Note: Remember to sign up for the 24-hour prayer-a-thon for peace to support displaced Colombians.  In coordination with the Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia (DOPA), the Colombia team is seeking prayers from all over the world over the course of a full day. Click here to sign up for an hour, alone or with a group, between 6:00 pm Saturday 14 April 6:00 Sunday 15 April 2012.  Light a candle, sing, meditate, read a story, or just sit quietly in the presence of God.]

Me: I like the colour blue. What colour do you like?

Boy: I like the colour black.

Boy: I like the colour yellow.

Me: I like to go walking for fun.  What do you do for fun?

Boy: I like to swim.

Girl: I like to play guitar.

Me: I am afraid of very loud thunder. What are you afraid of?

Girl: I am afraid of snakes.

Girl: I am afraid of bombing.

Teacher: (And there is shelling too)


The Iraqi Kurdistan team had made the three-hour trip to Sunneh, in eastern Iraqi Kurdistan to teach English.  Not exactly the mandate of CPT, but we see these monthly trips as a way to become acquainted with some of the eighty pupils in the school.  We would like them to be part of a video narrating their life in the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan, telling what it is like to be part of a village that is shelled every year from a country on the other side of the mountains.

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON) REFLECTION: Holy Saturday--Entombed in Hebron

Hebron is a sacred place because of the cave/tomb of Abraham and Sarah, Rebecca and Isaac, Jacob and Leah.  Today Hebron feels entombed by the Israeli military occupation and colonization.  It is a Holy Saturday that has lasted over forty-five years.  No resurrection in sightā€”but somehow the winter of all hopes and dreams bears the seeds of a, maybe far off, spring of justice and freedom.  I offer two stories of occupation: one of oppression, one of hope.

COLOMBIA REFLECTION: Consider the lilies. Then consider your investments.

Consider the lilies.  Theyā€™re not lilies.  I don't actually know what they are called.  But I did consider them.  Not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these.  And there are two of them growing out of the wall on our patio, and several more out front. They thrive on nothing. No soil, no shade from the scorching sun, and they don't even seem to mind if it doesn't rain or if no one waters them for a week or more.  In fact they are they only plants we have that are still happy when my teammate Gladys returns after having been away for several days and rest of us have forgotten to look after the plants. 

IRAQI KURDISTAN REFLECTION: Ten thousand eyes were watching

An activist friend of CPT Iraqi Kurdistan once said, ā€œKurdish families are very connected, but also everyone knows everyone in Kurdistan. When you become an activist you have to be concerned not only about your blood connections but you have to be concerned about 10,000 people who know about you and hear everything you say and watch everything you do.

COLOMBIA REFLECTION: The journey of being women

CPT on Facebook
My body is not a battlefield!

 The Popular Women's Organization (OFP) has worked in the Middle Magdalena region since 1972.  Its members are women on a constant journey, always proclaiming and working for their rights.  When they feel their lives are at risk, they surround themselves with friends to talk about what is happening.  This is the way the leadership of the OFP responded upon learning that unidentified men had been following their friend and coworker, Shayo.  Throughout the days filled with fear and anxiety, they have not given up. 


 In 1963, Gene Stoltzfus went to Vietnam as a Conscientious Objector with IVS (International Voluntary Services.)  Six months later, when Gene unintentionally wandered into a Special Forces camp, he was welcomed as a fellow American.   He asked two men who had come in from patrol where they had been.  When they would not tell him, except to brag that they had made several kills, he found himself wondering, ā€œIf I speak some Vietnamese but canā€™t tell who are the VC (Vietcong), how can these men, who speak no Vietnamese, tell?ā€