Saturday, October 2

MCC Palestine Update #102

MCC Palestine Update #102

2 October 2004

On the Ground in Hebron

On Tuesday, September 21, the International Day of Peace, we took a trip south to Hebron (Al Khaliil) to meet the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT). After taking a taxi and several services [serveeses] (a common form of public transportation), walking over dirt mounds and dusty roads in between, we made our way to the heart of the old town, near the fruit and vegetable market, to meet up with Chris Brown, a full-time CPTer. As we were shaking his hand, two Israeli military jeeps drove right into the market area. Soldiers emerged from the jeeps with a sense of purpose, and assumed defensive positions, guns in hand. Of course, during the course of our introductions, we were a bit distracted by this, but the activity in the market didn’t seem to change much. Chris speculated that the soldiers had come, as usual, for purposes of intimidation. Perhaps they would pull a few young men aside, ask to see their identification cards, and maybe detain one or two for a few hours before letting them go.

We walked past the soldiers, away from the market, and started down a road that used to be bustling with people before the current Intifada began. Many shop doors had been permanently closed-some of which had at one point been welded shut by Israeli soldiers in an act to “protect them from damage and loss by nearby settlers.” Unfortunately, the shopkeepers could not have access to their shops and the goods inside until the case was taken before the authorities and enough intervention took place (partly by CPT) to have the soldiers come back and cut the locks open again.

As we continued walking, Chris directed us to walk to the side of the street, under metal awnings, which lined the street on either side and were connected by a metal “net.” The net was placed there to prevent the garbage, from the settlers living above, from being thrown down upon the people below. Chris recalled a time when he was once only a few steps from being hit by hot oil, which of course would not have been stopped by the net.

We also walked past a checkpoint, on our way to the CPT house, where a middle-aged man sat blindfolded, guarded by a female Israeli soldier. A few observers from the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) were there keeping an eye on the checkpoint and trying to find out why the man was being detained.

Seeing first hand these poignant effects of the occupation helped us to appreciate groups like CPT and TIPH greatly, as they act as a presence designed to discourage harassment of Palestinians and to intervene on behalf of their protection, employing methods of nonviolence.

This past Wednesday, a week after our visit, CPTers Chris Brown and Kim Lamberty, underwent an attack while escorting children to school on a settler road. The road is not open to Palestinian drivers, but Palestinians are allowed to travel by foot on the road with permission from the Israeli military. Children are often afraid to walk to school on this road, because they are constantly harassed by settlers. A full article on the incident can be found at the end of this update.

Please hold Chris, Kim and CPT in your prayers as well as the children who witnessed the attacks. Pray for love and peace to overcome the fear that so many people experience here. Fear contributes to violence, which does not bring peace.

Holiday Season

Recently Jews everywhere celebrated Rash Hashanah, the advent of a New Year, as well as Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Starting on October 16th, Muslims will be observing Ramadan, their month of fasting. Let us pray for the peace of all people and for God’s grace and love to be with them.

Upcoming Olive Harvest

In about one month, Palestinians will be setting out to harvest olives from their trees. We have been invited by friends and neighbors to join them for this year’s harvest, and we look forward to sharing this experience with them.

One million trees and thousands of acres of farmland have been destroyed in the Palestinian Territories by the Israeli Occupation Army since the beginning of the Intifada in October 2000. As a part of this policy, 367,346 olive trees have been uprooted (31.05.2004), and this destructive practice continues daily in the Occupied Territories. Some of the excuses given for the confiscation of Palestinian land and the uprooting of trees range from the expansion of Israeli settlements and their bypass roads to the building of the "Apartheid wall" which annexes 50% of the West Bank to Israel.

Now, at the end of the fourth year of the current Intifada, let us pray for a bountiful harvest, as thousands of olive trees have been uprooted to make way for the Separation Wall, and olives are a source of food and livelihood for many Palestinians.

A Word from the MCC U.N. Office

The MCC UN Liaison Office continues to be actively involved with the NGO Working Group on Israel Palestine at the UN headquarters in NY. The Working Group's recent newsletter (to government missions at the UN, UN agencies, and NGOs) looks at the implications of the International Court of Justice's advisory opinion on the wall. This newsletter is attached. You can also visit the MCC UN Office at

A Note of Hope

On Monday, September 27, we walked to Manger Square to witness the “Peace Cycle,” consisting of twenty-six cyclists from various western nations, ride into Bethlehem. The cyclists were wearing shirts that stated in the front, “Free Palestine.” Our partner, Holy Land Trust, was one of the sponsors of the cycling group. Sami Awad, director of Holy Land Trust, spoke to the cyclists in a clear manner. He said that it isn’t enough to come to Palestine and stand in solidarity, but that they also must return to their respective communities and speak to the hearts and minds of the people there about the situation. That is the most powerful thing we can do. Therefore, we are also encouraged to hear of people reading the stories posted on the Bridges Not Walls website, and writing to their respective government representatives.

We always appreciate your thoughts, prayers and feedback for us here in Palestine. God’s peace and love be with all of you.

In peace,

Chris and Tim Seidel
Peace Development Workers
Mennonite Central Committee
Bethlehem, Palestine


September 29, 2004


HEBRON, WEST BANK - Kim Lamberty (Washington DC, USA) and Christopher Brown (San Francisco, USA) were attacked and beaten by five Israeli settlers while accompanying Palestinian children walking to school this morning in the Southern Hebron District of the West Bank. The school children were able to escape uninjured. Lamberty and Brown were taken by ambulance to Soroka Hospital in Beer Sheba.

The Israeli settlers took Lamberty's waist pack with her money, passport and cell phone. Lamberty stated in a telephone interview, " We were attacked by settler men who came from the Ma'on outpost. They were dressed in black with black scarves across their faces. They threw us down to the ground and kicked us. Chris was also beaten with chains and a bat." Lamberty suffered a broken arm and knee. She has now been released from the hospital and is recovering in Jerusalem.

Brown sustained broken ribs, one of which punctured his lung. He has undergone a surgical procedure to fix his collapsed lung. Brown also suffered a contusion on his head at his temple, but does not appear to have any brain injury. He will be recovering in the hospital for an unspecified amount of time.

Christian Peacemaker teams are present in the area of the attack at the request of Palestinian villagers who are suffering repeated harassment from Israeli settlers while Israeli authorities have failed to intervene.

Christian Peacemaker Teams places small ecumenical teams trained in nonviolent intervention in war zones, for violence reduction.

Christian Peacemaker Teams is an ecumenical initiative to support violence reduction efforts around the world. To learn more about CPT's peacemaking work, please visit our website at:
Photos of our projects may be viewed at:


BADIL Resource Center for
Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights

Press Release, 15 September 2004 (E/31/04)

They say 9/11 changed the world. What about
September 16?

September 16 commemorates the 1982 Sabra and
Shatila massacre, the day almost a quarter of a
century ago, when up to 3,500 civilians, mainly
Palestinian refugees, died in Beirut, Lebanon
refugee camps.

In 1982, Ariel Sharon was Defense Minister of
Israel. An Israeli commission of inquiry found
that he and other Israelis were responsible for
the massacre. Now Ariel Sharon is Prime
Minister of Israel.

Under the Universal Jurisdiction Law of Belgium,
Ariel Sharon was charged in relation to the
Sabra and Shatila massacre. The case failed
when Belgium was forced to abandon its law
through U.S. and other pressure. The law simply
put Belgian law into agreement with the Geneva
Conventions something expected from every state
that is a signatory to the Conventions. The
Geneva Conventions call for prosecution or
extradition of anyone guilty of crimes against
humanity. Among others, Amnesty International
and Human Rights Watch have supported the
concept of universal jurisdiction.

Others who had a role in the massacre remain in
positions of power both in Israel and Lebanon.

Things haven't changed much for the
Palestinians. Inquiries into the massacre were
not released. Most massacre perpetrators remain
at large. Nothing has been done to compensate
the victims.

The killing with impunity continues, especially
for Palestinians. In the occupied West Bank and
Gaza Strip more than 3,100 Palestinians have
been killed by the Israeli military and Israel
settlers in the past four years. In the same
period almost 1,000 Israeli civilians and
members of the Israeli security forces have been
killed by Palestinians.

Palestinian refugees in Lebanon remain unable to
own land and are barred from more than 70 types
of work. The Palestinians of West Bank and Gaza
remain locked in a land which is growing smaller
by the day with illegal takeovers of land and
the building of the wall by Israel.

All Palestinians who lost their homes in 1948
and through the years because of Israeli actions
have been denied the right of return.

Some say the world changed on September 11, 2001
but on 16 September, 22 years after the Sabra
and Shatila massacre, not much has changed for
the Palestinians.
Badil-english is a dissemination list of BADIL Resource
Center. All communication with BADIL should be addressed

In order to subscribe to this list, please send an empty
message to:
If you wish to un-subscribe, please send an empty message

BADIL Resource Center aims to provide a resource pool
of alternative, critical and progressive information on the
question of Palestinian refugees in our quest to achieve
a just and lasting soluton for exiled Palestinians based
on their right of return.

PO Box 728, Bethlehem, Palestine;
Telephone/Fax: 02-2747346
>From outside of Palestine: 972-2-2747346
Badil-english mailing list


If it were the reverse

By Gideon Levy

Last update - 03:02 18/07/2004

What would happen if a Palestinian terrorist were to detonate a bomb at the entrance to an apartment building in Israel and cause the death of an elderly man in a wheelchair, who would later be found buried under the rubble of the building? The country would be profoundly shocked. Everyone would talk about the sickening cruelty of the act and its perpetrators. The shock would be even greater if it then turned out that the dead man's wife had tried to dissuade the terrorist from blowing up the house, telling him that there were people inside, but to no avail. The tabloids would come out with the usual screaming headline: "Buried alive in his wheelchair." The terrorists would be branded "animals."

Last Monday, Israel Defense Forces bulldozers in Khan Yunis, in the Gaza Strip, demolished the home of Ibrahim Halfalla, a 75-year-old disabled man and father of seven, and buried him alive. Umm-Basel, his wife, says she tried to stop the driver of the heavy machine by shouting, but he paid her no heed. The IDF termed the act "a mistake that shouldn't have happened," and the incident was noted in passing in Israel. The country's largest-circulation paper, Yedioth Ahronoth, didn't bother to run the story at all. The blood libel in France - a woman's tale of being subjected to an anti-Semitic attack, which later turned out to be fiction - proved a great deal more upsetting to people. There we thought the assault was aimed against our people. But when the IDF bulldozes a disabled Palestinian to death? Not a story. Just like the killing, under the rubble of her home, of Noha Maqadama, a woman in her ninth month of pregnancy, before the eyes of her husband and children, in El Boureij refugee camp a few months earlier.

And what would happen if a Palestinian were to shoot an Israeli university lecturer and his son in front of his wife and their young son? That's what happened 10 days ago in the case of Dr. Salem Khaled, from Nablus, who called to the soldiers from the window of his house because he was a man of peace and the front door had jammed, so he couldn't get out. The soldiers shot him to death and then killed his 16-year-old son before the eyes of his mother and his 11-year-old brother. It's not hard to imagine how we would react to the story if the victims were ours.

But when we're implicated and the victims are Palestinians, we prefer to avert our eyes, not to know, not to take an interest and certainly not to be shocked. Palestinian victims - and their numbers, as everyone knows, are far greater than ours - don't even merit newspaper reports, not even when the chain of events is particularly brutal, as in the examples above. This is not an intellectual exercise but an attempt to demonstrate the concealment of information, the double morality and the hypocrisy. The indifference to these two very recent incidents proved again that in our eyes there is only one victim and all the others will never be considered victims.

If a European cabinet minister were to declare, "I don't want these long-nosed Jews to serve me in restaurants," all of Europe would be up in arms and this would be the minister's last comment as a minister. Three years ago, our former labor and social affairs minister, Shlomo Benizri, from Shas, stated: "I can't understand why slanty-eyed types should be the ones to serve me in restaurants." Nothing happened. We are allowed to be racists. And if a European government were to announce that Jews are not permitted to attend Christian schools? The Jewish world would rise up in protest. But when our Education Ministry announces that it will not permit Arabs to attend Jewish schools in Haifa, it's not considered racism. Only in Israel could this not be labeled racist. The heritage of Golda Meir - it was she who said that after what the Nazis did to us, we can do whatever we want - is now having a late and unfortunate revival.

What would happen if a certain country were to enact legislation forbidding members of a particular nation to become citizens there, no matter what the circumstances, including mixed couples who married and raised families? No country anywhere enacts laws like these nowadays. Apart from Israel. If the cabinet extends the validity of the new Citizenship Law today, Palestinians will not be able to undergo naturalization here, even if they are married to Israelis. We have the right, you see. And if the illegal Israeli immigrants in the United States were hunted down like animals in the dark of night, the way the Immigration Police do here, would we have a better understanding of the injustice we are doing to a community that wants nothing other than to work here?

What would we say if the parents of Israeli emigrants were separated from their children and deported, without having available any avenue of naturalization, no matter what the circumstances? And how would we classify a country that interrogates visitors about their political opinions as soon as they disembark from the plane at the airport and bars them from entering it the security authorities look askance at the opinions they express? What would happen if anti-Semites in France were to poison the drinking water of a Jewish neighborhood? Last week settlers poisoned a well at Atawana, in the southern Mount Hebron region, and the police are investigating.

And we still haven't said anything about a country that would imprison another nation, or about a regime that would prevent access to medical treatment for some of its subjects, according to its national identity, about roads that would be open only to the members of one nation or about an airport that would be closed to the other nation. All this is happening in Israel and is pulling from under us the moral ground that makes it possible for us to complain about racism and anti-Semitism abroad, even when they actually erupt.

No comments: