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On September 4, Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat signed another peace agreement, the Sharm al Sheikh Memorandum. It's basically an updated version of the Wye Memorandum, the implementation of which Israel halted unilaterally.
I spent the afternoon of September 7 visiting families east of Hebron in the Beqa'a Valley who face house demolition and are matched with North American churches through CPT's Campaign for Secure Dwellings (CSD). The first thing I noticed as I stepped out of the taxi was the 30 foot high retaining wall looming above the home of Abdel Jawad Jaber. The wall is made of enormous limestone boulders cut from the mountain on which it stands. It is a grotesque anomaly in this quiet valley of grape vines, tomato plants and donkeys.
The orchard that used to grow where the wall stands is now only a fading memory. A year ago a bulldozer destroyed in three hours what had taken a dozen years to create. A single uprooted olive tree at the base of the wall is the only reminder that there used to be a garden here. Above the wall, Israeli heavy machinery has leveled Abdel Jawad's mountain. The site is being prepared for a new Jewish settlement of 40 houses. Abdel Jawad's house has been given a demolition order.
From the wall I walked south to the home of Azam Jaber. I heard that he had been arrested by the army that morning for "stealing" Israeli water. Israel controls the West Bank's aquifers and gives Palestinians only 20% of the water that they extract. The other 80% goes to Israeli settlements or to Israel proper. Farmers in the Beqa'a are denied water for their crops. Israeli authorities tell them that the water is needed for drinking in Hebron. At the same time local settlers swim in built-in pools and water suburban lawns. Consequently, Palestinian farmers are often forced to tap into the water supply "illegally" in order to water their fields.
As I approached Azam's house he came out to greet me. "I heard you were in jail," I said. He had been, but the army wasn't really interested in holding him, they only arrested him to make a point. Azam brought me to his fields to show me how they drove the point home. The soldiers that arrested him confiscated 6 kilometers ($7000.00 worth) of irrigation piping, and uprooted more than a 1/4 acre of his tomato plants. They also presented him with a demolition order for his greenhouses that gives him 14 days to dismantle them or they will be bulldozed.
When I asked what he was going to do, Azam replied, "What else can I do? Take them down." His sons were already harvesting what they could before the plants were ruined.
So, with agreements signed, hands shaken, and pictures of "important" people sent across the wires, peace does seem to be breaking out all over the pages of Newsweek and the New York Times. But the wall still towers above Abdel Jawad's mountain and Azam's tomato plants are still rotting on the ground. And I'm left wondering if this "peace" will take the farmers of the Beqa'a out of harm's way.
The Campaign for Secure Dwellings (CSD) is a program of CPT which matches North American congregations, peace groups, and families with Palestinian families in the Hebron area whose homes have been threatened with demolition by Israeli authorities.
For more information, contact Rich Meyer at 13415 CR 44,
Millersburg, IN 46543;
Tel: 219-642-3920; e-mail: email@example.com
Israeli elections in May put Labor Party leader Ehud Barak in power as Prime Minister, replacing the hard-line Likud Party government of Benjamin Netanyahu. Since then, CSD partners in North America have been asking, "Has the change in government made a difference? What has changed?"
On the surface it would seem there is reason to celebrate. Under Barak's administration there have been only four home demolitions in the greater Jerusalem area and none in the West Bank. However, a closer look reveals that our Palestinian partner families still have no security in their homes. As Anne Montgomery, who recently rejoined CPT's Hebron team reports, "The words of politicians are one thing; seeing the work on the ground is another. Since returning, I have seen more speedy, intensive and extensive building of roads and settlement housing than ever before." Israeli authorities continue to issue home demolition orders and maintain full control over the areas where all CSD families live.
It may be that Barak has, temporarily at least, traded in his bulldozer for a steamroller in attempts to push through 'final status' negotiations dealing with the difficult questions of Jerusalem, settlements, and borders. Palestinian and Israeli groups with which CPT-Hebron works have asked for help to confront the structure of occupation, displacement and apartheid during the upcoming final status talks. They worry that too many hostile settlements and an Israeli takeover of Jerusalem would leave a lasting legacy of betrayal.
I could almost forget that the stones I was moving had once been the walls of a home. Almost, that is, until I came across the cracked blue plastic of a child s cup, or the shiny copper of a light fixture. Reality would hit and my stomach would bottom out.
On August 13, the CPT Rebuilders Against Bulldozers delegation and CPT Hebron members joined in a rebuilding effort organized by the Israeli Coalition Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). Two days earlier, the Israeli military had demolished the homes of brothers Ahmed and Mohammed Khalifa in Walaje, a small Palestinian village just south of Jerusalem. As usual, the reason given for the demolition was lack of a proper building permit. The catch is, such permits are impossible for Palestinians to obtain in this village.
Arabic, Hebrew and English intermingled as we shared in the work: "Throw the rocks over there." "Level out this area." "Help me lift this." "Drink?"
Later in the afternoon, when we had to transport large rocks over a distance, we formed a human chain in which Palestinians handed rocks to Israelis who passed them to North Americans. Although we had difficulty understanding each other at times, our hands and backs all spoke the same language. And our hearts all recognized the wrong that had been done here and the need to rectify it.
An Israeli woman clearing rubble near me paused in her work and stated passionately, "I, too, have a home built without a permit, and it has never received a demolition order. I promise you that the houses that you are rebuilding will not be destroyed again."
Delegation members included Fred Bush (Huntington Beach, CA), Anita Fast (Vancouver, BC), Dave Goering (Hillsboro, KS), Angela James (Sioux Lookout, ON), Jamie Terrel (Washington, DC), and Gretchen Young (Oakdale, PA). CPT Hebron members who participated in the rebuilding were Jamey Bouwmeester (Elgin, IL), Natasha Krahn (Waterloo, ON), Dianne Roe (Corning NY), and Joshua Yoder (Chicago, IL).
Dale Aukerman was a member of CPT's Steering Committee for 8 years, attending his last committee meeting just this April. Dale's family suggested that people make memorial donations to CPT. We have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of gifts and have already received over $4000 in Dale's name.
Dale devoted his life to visions and tasks which built for the future. He understood the proverb which says, "Nothing worth doing can be finished in a lifetime."
We are deeply indebted to Dale for his contribution to the development of CPT over the years. We found his presence at our Steering Committee meetings an important rudder steering our course. When he spoke, we heard words seasoned with wisdom and biblical awareness.
Dale's writings enriched us all. Darkening Valley remains, in my view, the best analysis available of the meaning of nuclear weapons. No one could do more to honor Dale's memory than to act on these words from that book: "Why, under God's sovereignty, the Bomb? Because God chose to let our rebellion be limitless; because God is, in this dread time, calling all peoples to recognize that "there is salvation in no one else...""(Acts 4:12) For Dale, any separation of the name of Jesus from the practice of nonviolence was a perversion of the gospel.
Wendell Berry's poem The Mad Farmer Liberation Front says "Plant sequoias." I don't know whether Dale planted any sequoias, but he did plant trees. He nurtured nonviolent peacemaking. He looked to the future.
Dale was one of the many people watering CPT and similar seedlings of peace. May we continue to tend them as they grow.
Sioux leaders have been camped out on La Framboise Island since March 22 to protest the planned transfer of 92,000 acres of federally-managed land to the state rather than to the Great Sioux Nation as stipulated in the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty. A delegation of more than thirty elders and youth went to Washington, DC on September 9 to reinforce the Sioux Nation's intention that the treaty be honored and the mitigation acts, which would desecrate this treaty, be repealed.
A pickup truck painted with powerful images led the way to Washington carrying a piece of the Sacred Fire which has been burning at the encampment for the past six months. Elder Marie Randall described the trip to Washington as a spiritual one. "The [Sacred Fire] goes before us. The Great Spirit is with us in our journey." CPTers Joanne Kaufman (Chicago, IL) and Cliff Kindy (North Manchester, IN) accompanied the group and the travelers were hosted by Church of the Brethren congregations along the route. "We have a gift," said Charmaine White Face to an audience gathered in Iowa City, Iowa. "To bring integrity, dignity and honor to the U.S. by allowing them to uphold the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty."
Although hesitant to wholeheartedly embrace that "gift," legislative aides in Washington did listen to the Sioux Nation representatives, some say for the first time in 29 years. Several aides offered support and others were grateful for more information.
While some of the Sioux leaders were walking the halls of Congress, others maintained a presence with the Sacred Fire on the Capitol Mall. Youth leafleted and held hand lettered signs reading, "We are the Seventh Generation of which Black Elk spoke and we want our land back," and "One does not sell the land on which the people walk" (a quote from Crazy Horse).
One afternoon, a fire truck and four police cars pulled up to inspect the smoke issuing from the rear stovepipe of the pickup. They found Chief Oliver Red Cloud along with women and youth holding a banner in front of the truck, prepared to go to jail before allowing the Sacred Fire to be extinguished. After some discussion, the DC authorities deemed that the fire was not a threat.
The Sioux delegation rejoined the La Framboise Island Camp on September 19. Travelers and campers gathered in a prayer circle as the piece of Sacred Fire was carried ceremonially from the truck back to the main fire in the tipi.
CPT is completing its initial presence with the peace encampment on La Framboise Island in South Dakota following one legislative victory and the camp's new focus on other treaty issues impacting the Great Sioux Nation.
The original Mitigation Act, which authorized the turn over of treaty land to the state of South Dakota, was passed in 1998 under suspect procedures. Campers celebrated a victory on September 30 when President Clinton signed a bill which included a repeal of the original Mitigation Act. However, a second version of the Mitigation Act was passed by the Senate in August. With threats to other treaty rights looming as well, Sioux warriors at the camp are digging in for the winter, chopping wood and winterizing tipis and tents.
CPT will maintain contact with the camp and its supporters and is prepared to respond to future requests for support.
In an act of resistance to the threatened transfer of 92,000 acres of federally-administered treaty land to the state of South Dakota, Lakota people on La Framboise Island in the Missouri River passed out cards saying "Welcome to the Great Sioux Nation" to people visiting the island September 5. "It's like celebrating sovereignty," said a visitor from the Cree Nation in Canada who had joined in support of the six-month Lakota encampment.
CPTers who gathered at the camp over the U.S. Labor Day weekend likened the "welcome cards" to visas they are familiar with when traveling to CPT's overseas projects. "The big difference," they said, "is that visas in Israel or Mexico can be used to exclude people, while these cards are welcoming people to share the land." Among those welcomed with the card was a family from India who was bicycling around the world to promote nonviolence.
CPTers who participated in the action were: Joanne Kaufman (Chicago, IL), Cliff Kindy (North Manchester, IN), Rick Polhamus (Fletcher, OH), Kurt Ritchie (Constantine, MI), Janet Shoemaker (Goshen, IN), and Gene Stoltzfus (Chicago, IL).
On October 4, about 35 people representing seven Lakota and Dakota (Sioux) bands met South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle at a boat landing during his tour of the Missouri River with the press. Daschle has instigated most of the legislation which presently challenges the validity of Lakota Treaty rights.
People stood in the fall sun at the boat ramp holding signs with messages like "Leave our land, you greedy greedy man" and "Mitigation Act is as illegal as the Act of 1889." Across the river, others held a tarp with the painted message, "Stop the Mitigation [Act], Honor the Treaties."
Daschle avoided looking at the gauntlet of Native American elders and youth until one woman stepped right in front of him. Stella Pretty Sounding Flute explained the group's concerns about violations of treaty rights and concluded, "You should let us walk this land in peace." Daschle responded with a feeble, "appreciate the fact that you feel as strongly as you do. Thanks for coming here today."
CHIAPAS, MEXICO -- After hiking three and a half hours in the sweltering hot Lacondon Jungle, CPTers William Payne, Pierre Shantz, and I, along with a Mexican Marist brother, collapsed on a hillside near seven indigenous men who were waiting for the bus we would take back to Comitan. We were returning to San Cristobal after a weekend meeting of catechists from 30 different indigenous communities.
We were just debating whether to hike five minutes to town to buy some cold refreshments when a truck full of Chiapas State Police pulled up. Thirteen men dressed in dark blue and armed with machine guns jumped down and encircled us. Four officers began yelling at the indigenous men to show their identification. They shoved one man who did not comply. William's attempt to document the situation with his camera was met with shouted demands to put it away.
The confusion continued, and I was scared. What could we do to de-escalate the violence? Pierre and William suggested we sing. Soon three voices rang out: "Caminamos en la luz de Dios" (We are marching in the light of God).
As we sang, I looked into the eyes of the police, who have a reputation for brutality and disregard of the law. I was uncomfortable looking directly into the eyes of these armed, angry men, but it was a small attempt to reach out and make human to human contact. Were we succeeding at bringing God into this situation, reminding them that all life is sacred?
One never knows what will de-escalate situations that have great potential for violence. This time, singing worked. After some perfunctory questions and recording our passport numbers, the police left and we continued on our way.
Participants in a CPT delegation and members of CPT-Mexico held a public "Celebration of Hope" in the Cathedral Plaza of San Cristobal de Las Casas the evening of August 11. "We held the vigil to pray for peace for the poor and for all the people struggling for dignity and hope in Chiapas," explained delegation member Drane Reynolds.
For Nelda Nelson-Eaton, who holds dual Mexican and U.S. citizenship, this was her first time to take part in a public action for peace. "I think we reached many people," she said. "I was glad I overcame the fear of making a protest in a country not known for its sterling record of human rights."
The service attracted the attention of many passersby in the busy plaza, and about 30 people stopped and sang, shared prayers, and talked with team members. Several people asked how they could get involved in the kind of work CPT is doing.
A week later, CPT held a second vigil in the same spot to continue to draw attention to the low-intensity war being fought in Chiapas with the complicity of North Americans.
Participants in the August delegation were: Drane Reynolds (Homestead, FL), Nelda Nelson-Eaton (Tijuana, Mexico, currently in Chicago), Chris Schweitzer (Philadelphia, PA), and Paul Neufeld Weaver (Worthington, MN). Members of the CPT-Mexico team were: Matt Guynn (Richmond, IN), Anne Herman (Binghamton, NY), Esther Ho (Hayward, CA), William Payne (Toronto, ON), Sara Reschly (Mount Pleasant, IA), and Pierre Shantz (Elmira, ON).
Since Easter morning, when 50 members of the indigenous pacifist group, Las Abejas (the Bees) and four CPTers planted corn at a military "civic action" camp near the highland community of X'oyep, CPT-Mexico has periodically revisited the site. A CPT delegation in May joined 70 Abejas in weeding and watering foot-high corn plants, which symbolically reclaimed the land for life-giving purposes. On a September trip into X'oyep, CPTers Anne Herman and William Payne were dismayed to see the corn had been destroyed. Indigenous leaders asked if the team was interested in planting more.
On September 17, following prayers in the new chapel in the center of X'oyep, CPTers, 75 Abejas, two other internationals and two Jesuit volunteers processed through misting rain and mud to the flagpole at the military base. There they continued to worship for 2 » hours with prayer, singing and scripture in English, Spanish and Tzotzil while soldiers observed and photographed from a distance. Then the group prepared a patch of soil and sowed new seeds.
In Dialogue, we lift exchanges from CPT.D, an open e-mail discussion on CPT's vision and work. An Urgent Action issued by our Chiapas team and released on CPTNet (our e-mail news service) sparked the following discussion on CPT.D.
CPT Mexico (from initial CPTNet release): A significant increase in acts of violence, aggression and public rhetoric over the past few weeks has made it clear that a full-scale assault on thousands of unarmed indigenous people here in Chiapas could be imminent
On Saturday, August 21, 1999, the San Cristobal de Las Casas Mayor put out statements calling for the removal of outsiders, foreign and Mexican alike, from the region. Human rights agencies are concerned that these statements may indicate that outside observers will be removed in order to prevent their witnessing an increase in government repression.
Samuel Hofman, Dutch Reformed Missionary, Chiapas, Mexico: I imagine this is an example of the news that flashes all over the world as to what is happening here. I am dismayed by how distorted and one-sided it is.
The anti-government forces here, including the Zapatista movement, the left wing political party (PRD) and the radical Catholics have developed an effective communication network that has the attention and support of a lot of national and international groups. Their message is that the oppressive government here is always on the verge of horrific violence against the defenseless Indians of Chiapas.
The fact is that the government and military here have been very restrained and disciplined in their reactions to confrontations and aggression.The one exception was the massacre at Acteal in December 1997. In that case it was not the police or military, but a Tzotzil vigilante group from the area that made the attack. They were responding to aggression and killings that the Zapatista supporters had carried out in previous months. The massacre was a terrible mistake, not only because lots of innocent men, women and children were killed, but also because it has given the pro-Zapatistas a dramatic and powerful piece of propaganda with which they continue to gain a lot of national and international support.
The only reason that the Zapatista movement still lives is because of the constant transfusion of personnel and funds from North American and European left-wing organizations and because of the support from the local radical Catholic organizations.
Frank Moore, CPT Reservist, Houston, TX: CPT has interviewed Presbyterians on both sides, a Protestant lawyer for religious liberty, a Dutch Reformed missionary, the military, and the paramilitary. However, we are not neutral about injustice.
Part of the issue is how Christians should confront violence, and whether Christians should participate in violence. Las Abejas were pacifists before the Zapatista army rebelled on January 1, 1994. The 45 victims who were massacred on December 22, 1997 were pacifist Christians, praying and fasting in their church building. Virtually none of the Protestants I hear from are addressing the question of whether New Testament faith can ever condone, tolerate, or justify any violence.
Rusty Dinkins-Curling, CPT Reservist, Portland, OR: I have seen some of the "vigilante" groups Hofman speaks of. I saw 10 or 12 campesinos in the back of a truck brandishing automatic weapons within a few minutes of an army truck full of well-armed soldiers they did not seem to fear. Did these weapons come out of thin air or were they provided by the very government and army that is using so much "restraint"?
Willliam Payne, CPT Mexico, Toronto, ON: Hofman suggests that CPT is a mouthpiece for some propaganda dissemination network. We are a group of Christians wrestling with the complex reality of suffering here. Our work is violence reduction. We write what has been said to us by real indigenous people in Chiapas. The level of fear is high.
The only thing that "restrains" the Mexican Army and the Chiapas state police is public opinion and international pressure. There has not been a single death in any community in this state during the entire five years of this conflict where an international human rights observer was present. It seems clear that efforts to remove international witnesses are motivated by the government's desires to act with impunity.
Cliff Kindy, CPTer: Samuel Hofman is an excellent person to provide another perspective on the situation in Chiapas. His 40 years in the region parallel the ministry of Catholic Bishop Samuel Ruiz who has nurtured the church in the direction of concern for and work with the indigenous people.
The two Samuels differ dramatically on whether efforts to improve the life of the indigenous are political or spiritual. So as cooperatives or land takeovers began to provide a land base for the poor, they were supported by Ruiz and condemned by Hofman.
As we try to interpret events and understand the stories we hear from different perspectives, we need to place them in the context of: 1) a state very rich in resources, 2) a people at the bottom of every social scale, 3) economic globalization that affects Chiapas, and 3) the deployment of one third of the entire Mexican army to Chiapas.
Pierre Gingerich, CPT Reservist, Ithaca, NY: It's quite understandable that individuals and communities allied with the governing party will find resonance with a theology that favors individual salvation and advancement, that emphasizes submission to temporal authority, and that dismisses as pagan the deep traditional ties of the indigenous to their lands. This seems to be the theology and the social base for Hofman's outlook and information sources.
Allen Stoltzfus, Harrisonburg, VA: A land rich in resources and a poor people doesn't mean anything is "wrong". It means people are pre modern. I know of no case where people have obtained modern prosperity without moving from tradition to market land tenure systems. The ruling party in Mexico and the rich are indeed as oppressive and corrupt as you say. Still, I believe an ethos of individual advancement is the path out of poverty.
Paul Neufeld Weaver, Worthington MN: The Zapatista struggle in Mexico is unique compared to other recent Latin American revolutionary movements in that it has never been a Zapatista objective to gain power. Instead, they have a list of 14 demands, behind which is a demand that there be a shift of power in favor of those most marginalized in Mexican society, the indigenous. Rather than demanding power, the Zapatistas are insisting on democracy. I disagree with their choice of the armed struggle as one of their strategies, and I mourn the violence and division in families and communities which has come about in the aftermath of the uprising. However, their call for a redistribution of power is exactly what Mexican society needs.
Richmond, VA - In December, 1996 the Park Realty Neighborhood Watch began as a twice weekly walk around apartments in this community of 6000 people. The Watch grew out of widespread concern about violence including murder in the neighborhood.
"The diligence and solidarity of such walks pushes back the opportunities for violence stimulated by isolation and loneliness in this community," says Richmond CPTer Wes Hare.
Watchers spend most of their time talking and gossiping together over the two-mile walk. Participation ranges from three to 15 with an average of 8 persons. People are surprisingly faithful even through heat and cold. Walkers wear "watch hats" and people get to know their neighbors often for the first time. Out of these walks have grown special events at holiday times, by-weekly pot-lucks and other neighborhood initiatives.
Blenheim, ON - The land surrounding the band office of the Caldwell First Nation in southwestern Ontario is covered with hundreds of expensive plastic signs saying "Not For Sale." These signs were posted by a local citizens committee earlier this year when the federal government announced they had signed an agreement to settle the Caldwells' 200 year old land claim.
The Caldwell now have funds to purchase land and create a reserve for their people. But the land is "not for sale." Not for sale to whom?To find out, 5 CPTers and 2 members of a local group, Friends of the Caldwell, spent a day knocking on doors asking landowners about their signs.
"I'm just being neighborly," said one man. "My neighbors asked me to put up a sign and neighbors have to stick together so I put up a sign. I have nothing against the Caldwell."
"I don't want an Indian reserve here," said another woman. "I'm not being racist, but you know what reserves look like - full of junk and shacks and dirty kids. They'll drive the value of my land way down."Another neighbor said, "I don't want a reserve here. The Caldwells' purchases are driving land prices sky high."
Chief Larry Johnson of the Caldwell First Nation replies, "The reserve system is the only way we have to preserve Indian land for future generations. We have been neighbors for years and we already manage 700 acres of farmland in this area."
Chief Johnson also has a sign on his mailbox. It reads, "Canadian racism can be beaten." He remains hopeful.
Wanted: Christian Peacemakers - The successes of CPT's projects in Haiti, Hebron, Chiapas and South Dakota have prompted people from five continents to send inquiries about whether CPT can set up projects in their locations. As of January 2000, CPT will have only eleven full-time volunteers in its Christian Peacemaker Corps (CPC) - barely enough to fulfill our ongoing commitments. Six more full time volunteers are needed before CPT can respond to other invitations.
Two of the invitations that CPT has had to turn down recently came from Mennonites in Colombia who have received death threats from paramilitaries and Church of the Brethren members in Puerto Rico who are trying to end U.S. military practice bombing runs on the island of Vieques. Since Mennonites and Brethren are the primary denominational sponsors of CPT, having to turn down these invitations has been especially distressing for CPT staff and volunteers.
CPT is issuing an urgent call for full-time Christian Peacemaker Corps volunteers willing to take risks for peace now. Apply immediately. Financial challenges? Talk to us. Often, arrangements can be made to find funding for special needs. For more information contact Jan Long; 950 Heather Dr.; Blacksburg, VA 24060; Tel./Fax: 540-951-2788; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Peacemaker Congress V - Participants in the upcoming Christian Peacemaker Congress will have the opportunity to engage in nonviolence training and a faith-based public witness to hail the dawning of the new millennium. The Congress, sponsored by Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) and New Call to Peacemaking, will be held December 27-30, 1999 at the Luther Place Memorial Church in Washington, DC.
Long-time peace workers Kathy Kelly and Anne Montgomery will address the gathering on the theme, "From 'Redemptive' Violence to Active Nonviolence." Kelly is a tireless nonviolent activist and educator who has participated extensively in international and domestic peace team efforts including CPT. She currently coordinates the Chicago-based Voices in the Wilderness campaign to end the UN/US sanctions against Iraq. Montgomery, editor of "Swords into Plowshares," has lived her commitment to nonviolence through years of active peacemaking from her base in New York. She has served with Christian Peacemaker Teams full-time in Hebron, West Bank for the past four years.
Peacemaker Congress participants will gather for worship, study and prayer to learn more about Christian nonviolence in a violent world and to act on God's call to make peace. For information and registration, contact Christian Peacemaker Teams; P.O. Box 6508; Chicago, IL 60680-6508; Tel: 312-455-1199; Fax: 312-432-1213; e-mail: email@example.com
Regional Trainings for CPT Reservists - Following two successful Regional Trainings in Boulder, CO and Kitchener, ON, more local groups are organizing to train CPT Reservists at home. CPT will work with groups of 10-15 Reserve Corps applicants from a geographical area to bring the training to you. Supporters in Ontario have initiated plans for their second training and folks in Iowa are well on their way to recruiting the needed numbers. Contact Kryss Chupp at CPT for guidelines on developing a Reserve Corps group in your area.
Campaign to Close the SOA Continues - Speaking at a gathering sponsored by the Illinois Coalition to Close the SOA on September 26, noted author Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer predicted that Chiapas could be "the next East Timor." The U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA) in Fort Benning, GA has trained some of the most notorious violators of human rights in Latin America at U.S. taxpayer expense. Currently the largest contingent of students is from Mexico. Nelson-Pallmeyer warned that the complacency in the U.S. that allows the SOA to exist could also have dire consequences in this country, and called for nonviolence training centers to replace ROTC facilities on college campuses. Meanwhile, Washington, DC-based SOA Watch is calling for 10,000 vigillers, 5,000 line-crossers, and 100 people to risk prison time at a witness November 19-21 at the gate of the Fort Benning, GA, site. For more information contact SOA Watch; P.O. Box 4566; Washington, DC 20017; Tel: 202-234-3440. CPT supporters planning to attend the witness are encouraged to contact Kryss Chupp at the CPT Chicago office.
Prayer Vigil Against Violence in Chiapas - Seven people participated in a prayer vigil August 30 in front of the Mexican Consulate in Dallas, TX in response to intensifying levels of violence in Chiapas, Mexico. Among the vigilers were participants in past CPT delegations to the region: Marcia Stoesz (Akron, PA), Stephen Obold (Hesston, KS), and Duane Ediger (Dallas, TX). After a review of current events and prayers, the vigilers signed a letter addressed to Mexican President Zedillo and met with the Consul General.
Israel Outlaws Torture - On September 6, 1999, Israel's Supreme Court outlawed all forms of torture. The nine judges unanimously ruled that interrogation methods such as shaking, holding a person in the dreaded "Shabach" and "frog crouch" positions, and sleep deprivation, are forbidden to be used as a tool to force confessions from prisoners. Such methods have routinely been used with tens of thousands of Palestinian prisoners. The ruling overturns a 1987 one that allowed "physical pressure" on prisoners in the interest of state security. B'Tselem, Israel's primary human rights organization, reported in a press release: "This is one of the most important decisions made by the High Court during the nation's history."
Burger King Changes Mind on West Bank Franchise - Fast food giant Burger King was about to face a worldwide boycott led by Arab and Muslim groups after it announced it would be opening a franchise in an Israeli settlement on the West Bank. The Internet was ablaze with grassroots opposition prompting the corporation to close the disputed outlet.
I was in Hebron two weeks ago and I am still buoyed, inspired,
by the Christian Peacemaker Team. If I were Christian I would
join up without hesitation; as a Jew, and as a human being,
though, I just want to offer my sincere thanks.
Sharon Jaffe - Internet
We keep up on your work through your newsletter and involved
friends. The saddest piece of CPT history we read in April's
appeal - that CPT had received so many invitations to send a team
to Kosovo. We were sickened by our country's response to the
whole crisis. And we continue to be saddened as the cycles of
violence roll on.
Stacy Merkt and John Blatz - San Antonio, Texas
What if we had 250 to 300 CPTers available to be in Kosovo?
What if we had monthly orientation/training programs with 10-20
folks in each training for a three-year commitment? How long
would it take to build up a resource in the hundreds of folks?
What if folks made a monthly contribution to CPT just as they do
to their church?
Gretchen & Dick Williams, CPT Reservists - Boulder, CO
I feel sick about what's been done to the beautiful terraced
property of Abdel Jawad Jaber. I read all that you write and try
to respond, but I've never written you to say what a good job you
are doing and how much we appreciate it.
Rhonda Brubacher - Crete
The Journey Toward Reconciliation, John Paul Lederach, Herald Press, 1999.The power of this book is its ability to integrate the Biblical foundation of the author's work with real situations, and his humble perseverance through the years to seek fair and lasting settlements when so many rely on violence. However, it represents a model of grappling with conflict that contrasts, at times sharply, with that of CPT.
Whereas Lederach's picture of conflict transformation suggests a neutral, detached mediator, CPT is not neutral but stands nonviolently with those on the bottom, can sometimes be confrontational, and can challenge people on their complicity in the conflict. Lederach-s model is often dependent on the invitation of power brokers to enter the process, whereas CPT usually enters at the grassroots.There is undoubtedly room for both styles of peacemaking in our world.
Abide with Me: More Hymns for Guitar, by Tom Harder, Faith & Life Press and Herald Press, June 1999, cassette or CD. Harder's arrangements of 15 hymns for solo acoustic guitar hit CPT Chicago staff's Top Ten charts for three weeks running. His rendition of "Wade in the Water" is riveting and inspires all in the office to press on. Great music to work by.
RAB Delegations to Israel/Palestine: Nov.
18-30, 1999; February 4-16; May 26 - June 8;
July 21 - August 3; November 14-27, 2000
Delegations to Chiapas, Mexico: Nov. 4-15,
1999;February 18-29; May 18-30; July 13-25,
November 17-29, 2000
CPT Steering Committee Meetings: Oct. 21-23, 1999 (Chicago); Apr. 27-29, 2000 (Toronto)
Coffeehouse Fundraiser - Waterloo, ON: November 13; 8 pm; Waterloo-Kitchener UMC
CPT Jubilee Witness - IMF Headquarters, Washington, DC: Dec. 26, 1999 - Jan. 1, 2000
Peacemaker Congress V - Washington, DC: December 27- 30, 1999
CPT Training for Full-time & Reserve Corps applicants - Chicago, IL: January 2- 26, 2000