Friday, December 22, 2006

On Shuhada Street


Two items today about Shuhada Street, a thoroughfare which is a site of conflict and controversy in Hebron, in occupied Palestine. There has been a Christian Peacemaker Team in Hebron for about ten years.
Both items come from Church of the Brethren members who have spent significant time as CPTers on Shuhada Street: Rick Polhamus and Art Gish.

Peace be with you,
Matt Guynn
On Earth Peace

Shuhada Street ~ Rick Polhamus

The phone rings out; a cry for help
And then it's time to go.
I grab the camera from the shelf.
I let the others know
We're wanted at the checkpoint now;
There's someone's getting beat.
I'm what I am and what I am
Is back on Shuhada Street.

And, O my Lord, I still know how
It was that I did feel;
When with the basin and the towel,
At my feet you did kneel.
Bewildered by your actions then,
I watched you wash my feet.
By such instructions you prepared
A man for Shuhada Street.

So come, my friends, we're not afraid.
Fear is not what we're about.
It is in love that we are made;
In love we venture out.
Though all the maps of blood and flesh
Have been posted on the door,
It's through our acts on Shuhada Street
We show what love is for.

CPTnet ~
20 December 2006

HEBRON REFLECTION: A conversation on Shuhada Street

by Art Gish

On 6 December 2006, three members of Christian Peacemaker Teams in Hebron decided to walk up Shuhada Street even though the Israeli military regularly prohibits non-Jews from walking on that street. Since the US government spent millions of dollars to up-grade and beautify that street on the condition that the street remain open to everyone, we wanted to test this specific example of Israeli government policy of gradually separating Jews and non-Jews.

We had some fear of Israeli settlers attacking us on that street since they have hit, kicked, cursed, spat upon and stoned team members in the past.

When we approached the front of the Beit Hadassah settlement, we saw an Israeli settler whom I had met in 1995 during my first time in Hebron. To the amazement of other settlers, he enthusiastically greeted and hugged me, after which we began an animated conversation. He and I have always had a positive relationship and I have often told stories about this settler and his warm relationship with Palestinians in Hebron. Other settlers watched with disdain as we continued our conversation, but they did not interrupt us.

Soon another settler approached us, a man with whom I once had a conversation about ten years ago, but who has refused to talk with me since then. My settler friend introduced us. I greeted him warmly and told him I was glad to see him again. The man was somewhat trapped, since it would have been difficult for him in that situation to ignore or be rude to me, and so he did talk with me.

I asked him how he saw the situation in Hebron, and if he saw any solution to the strife here. He said he saw no hope since only Israelis, not Palestinians, want peace. "As long as there are Arabs here," he said, "there will never be peace."

I consider these conversations to be a small victory. The settlers have been hostile to team members, but today we had a warm conversation with a settler right in front of Beit Hadassah, and no settler felt free to interrupt us. I long for more human contact between people separated by walls, barriers, and fear.


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