Kathy and I had to kind of rush away on Saturday, but we spent the last two days visiting with her friends Ya’alah and Netanel. And our friend Laura is ALSO visiting them so we got to visit with her, too! Hurray!
In one picture Laura’s face looked silly and in another Ya’alah was scratching her head, so Kathy cropped them out. In this picture Laura is sharing her sweetie with me. They are a cross between a grapefruit and a pomelo.
One of the things Kathy and I have enjoyed doing most this month is feeding the team’s compost to the ducks and geese from the shop that is the only other building on our street that isn’t locked up. They really like rotten tomatoes and they REALLY think the parts of cauliflower that humans don’t eat are yummy.
On Friday, Kathy, our teammate JoAnn and I went out to the Beqa’a Valley to visit her friends Atta and Rodeina Jaber and their children. Their daughters Dalia and Lara were helping them make dibs. At the end of the grape harvest, all the grapes that aren’t the very best grapes get put in a pot and boiled and boiled into syrup called dibs and it is YUMMMY! Especially when you mix it with tahini. Normally you visit, and then tea comes out and some snacks and maybe a little dinner and then coffee. Well for our visit, tea, thyme bread and coffee all came out in the space of about 20 minutes, and then Atta’s brother called to tell him that soldiers were shutting down the roads because so many Israeli settlers were coming in for a special occasion in Hebron, and JoAnn and Kathy and I had to leave right then. We missed out on a lot of yumminess and a good time with our friends!
Well I guess Kathy and I had better finish packing. I hear there are storms in the Netherlands. Hope they’re gone by the time Kathy and I land. Goodbye Palestine! Goodbye Israel! We will miss you!
I don’t know why Kathy decided to take a picture of this earlier in the month when she was in East Jerusalem. But Kiwi-fried chicken doesn’t really sound all that yummy.
Every time Kathy and I come to Hebron we always spend at least one evening with the Sharabatis. Hisham Sharabati is the first friend Kathy and CPT made in Hebron. He and his wife Nariman have five children, Abed, Tamer, Wi’am, ShuShu and Adam.
When Kathy saw Adam last time he was a newborn. Now he is almost 2! His favorite toy is his bouncing ball.
He didn’t like it very much when his brothers Wi’am and Tamer tried to get a picture with me and him and his ball.Nariman cooked a yummy dinner. We started with freekeh. It’s a soup made with green wheat. MMMMMM! Then we had roast chicken and potatoes and a salad. YUMMMMY!
Tamer finished his dinner before the rest of us and he asked if I could go play with him and his motorcycle. Then Wi’am joined us. It was fun!
Then ShuShu and I played with Adam’s backpack! Abed, Tamer and ShuShu got their homework finished, but Wi’am sometimes has a hard time focusing and getting his work done. Kathy helped him a little with his English homework. I helped him with his Arabic homework. Kathy asked him if I spoke Arabic. He said I didn’t, but I could help him erase stuff. Well, that’s all for now. Kathy was tired because she had been up since 5:30 for school patrol and she had to get up early again the next day I guess ShuShu was tired too.
Before we left Bethlehem a couple days ago, we visited the wall that Israel built around Bethlehem. Israel said it was going to build it for security between Israel and Palestine, but the wall isn’t built along the border of Israel and the West Bank. It goes inside the West Bank and has confiscated thousands and thousands of acres of Palestinian land. It surrounds Bethlehem on three sides.
Ever since the Wall went up people from all over the world have been painting pictures on it and writing angry or sad or hopeful or happy messages on it. Kathy and I took some pictures. Can you find me in them?
Some artist called Banksy who’s supposed to be a big deal did this.
People who get really angry at the wall throw burning things at it. I got kind of dirty posing on it.
Some mystery CPTer wrote this on the wall and no one knows who! My teammate Cory and I went looking for clues!
We came to a neighborhood that was almost completely surrounded by the wall. A woman whose home had been surrounded by the wall came up to us and asked us to look at her shop. She had designed some really interesting things. One was an olivewood nativity scene with a wall separating the wisemen and shepherds from baby Jesus, Joseph and Mary (you could take it out.)
When we got home, I was really dirty! So Kathy gave me a bath. Now I am all sparkley clean! Hurray!
Kathy and I have been going to a LOT of meetings in the last two weeks. It’s so hard to sit still for that much time! Maarten Van der Werf from the Netherlands taught us about Nonviolent Communication for the first week.
Maarten’s on the right, talking.
Then we went to Bethlehem so the team could plan it’s work for the next three years with the help of Gerry O’Sullivan. I like the part where we drew pictures. Gabriel drew the best one. Kathy tried to draw one with two CPTers watching children going through Qitoun checkpoint to get to school and it didn’t come out so well.
I also liked going out to lunch with people. Tarek, the Palestine Project Support coordinator can eat chicken every day!
Tarek is in the white shirt.
But most of the meetings were really confusing. People talked and talked and talked and talked, and broke into small groups and talked some more. Then we thought we had a plan and realized we didn’t and had to talk some some more.
We had a one day off in the middle of the week. Mona was sick of her hair and there is a hair stylist in Bethlehem she really likes so she and Kathy decided to go there. Kathy got her hair cut short.
Mona got her nails done (She says she can do a better job herself at home) and then she got her hair cut and styled.
She was thinking about changing the color, but the stylist convinced her not to .
Finally on the very last day, Gerry was able to organize everyone enough so she could put together Christian Peacemaker Team’s 3 Year Strategic Plan 2013-2016. Hurray!
Well that’s all for now. Next time I’ll write about our trip to the wall in Bethlehem! More pictures!
P.S. The plan ended up being 40 pages, but this is the news release the team is going to put out about it:
CPT Palestine makes plans for new work
CPT’s Palestine team will continue to remain based in Hebron, a microcosm of the Israeli military occupation of Palestine, and make human rights promotion a focus of their work, but plan to expand their work into new peacebuilding enterprises over the next three years.
Most of the full-time CPTers (Israeli authorities had denied Jonathan Brenneman entry into the country three times on September 17, 24 and October 9) and several reservists gathered for a five day retreat in Bethlehem from 9-15 October 2016. Under the guidance of professional facilitator Gerry O’Sullivan, they produced a three-year strategic plan, in effect through the year 2016.
New goals will include
making plans for Palestinian national delegations, with a long-term objective of increasing the number of Palestinians on the team
becoming more deeply connected with Palestinian and Israeli partners and campaigns that are addressing the wider context under which Palestinians live
encouraging the creation of a “City of Nonviolence” in the H-2 area of Hebron that will be a model for other Palestinian regions supporting nonviolence
Working towards the organization of a civil society based on nonviolent principles to prepare for a time when nonviolent actions increase in strength and frequency
providing a forum for Hebronites to discuss common challenges of the occupation
Providing nonviolence trainings for university students and teachers and parents of schoolchildren who pass through the checkpoints CPT monitors
Developing an introductory programme geared toward Hebron’s context to transform how people look at conflict and tools for addressing it
Providing nonviolence training for trainers.
Researching and publicizing Israeli denial of entry for Palestinians and internationals
Tarek Abuata, Palestine Project Support Coordinator notes, “”CPT Hebron continues to be committed to building equal transformative partnerships with our Palestinian partners in Hebron, and we continue to be committed to re-envisioning and giving our work new life through our faith”.
Some call it Firing Zone 918, I call it Jinba, Al Fakheit, Isfey, al Fakheit, al Majaz, at Tabban, Jinba, Mirkez, Halaweh and Khallet Athaba’
On Saturday evening Kathy, Gabriel and I took a taxi to Yatta to spend the night with the family of Mufid, who usually drives people from Christian Peacemaker Teams, the International Solidarity Movement and The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel to visit schools in an area that Israel calls Firing Zone 918. We had fun with Mufid’s children, especially Leam
Her big sister Leal and brother Odai taught me the Arabic alphabet.
Then the next morning we went out with another driver (not sure why we didn’t go with Mufid) in a car that the Japanese government donated through Unicef to pick up kids to take them to Al-Fakheit School. These kids live in very tiny villages far away from Yatta, so they either had to move to Yatta to stay with relatives to go to school or just not go to school. But now they have schools in Jinba and Al-Fahkheit they can go to. CPT, ISM and EAPPI ride with the driver into the area these villages are because the Israeli military does not want these villages or schools to be there and causes problems for the drivers.
Sunday morning, they were stopping drivers ahead of us, and our driver was nervous. The soldier told all of us to get out of the car. The soldier started asking the driver questions in Hebrew, and the driver said he didn’t speak Hebrew. So they started talking to him REALLY LOUD in Hebrew. I wanted to encourage them to think about rainbows but Kathy said she didn’t think it was appropriate. Gabriel said that the car had diplomatic plates and that Unicef wanted us to accompany the car, so the soldiers finally let us through.
Then we picked up the children–seven for the first trip. The driver makes three trips to get them all to the school. While the children waited for the other children and the teachers to get Al Fakheit, they played soccer. Their ball didn’t have much air in it, and they built their goalposts out of these rocks, but they still had a lot of fun.
When the teachers got to the school, all the students line up according to what grade they were in and did exercises.
Road to Jinba
Then Kathy and Gabriel walked a long way to visit the school at Jinba that was built for younger children. Kathy fell on her face and hurt her knee.
School at Jinba
The school at Jinba is smaller than the one at Al Fakheit, and only younger children go there.
I hope nothing bad happens to Jinba, Al Fakheit, Isfey, al Fakheit, al Majaz, at Tabban, Jinba, Mirkez, Halaweh and Khallet Athaba’. I hope that these schools an the homes and wells and caves and animal pens are not destroyed. I also hope that the Israeli military stops practicing bombing and shooting near these villages, because it’s scary for the children and animals. The Israeli government said one of the reasons that all the people here have to move (except for the Israelis living in the area) is that it is a nature reserve, and the wild animals and plants need to be protected, but how can you protect plants and animals if you’re bombing and shooting? I talked to a gazelle about it and she agreed with me that that’s just silly.
Looking at the South Hebron Hills from the school at Al Fakheit
Well that’s all for now. Back to doing school patrol in Hebron tomorrow!
Well it was quite a trip here! it took 26 hours to fly from Rochester to Detroit to New York to Nice (that’s pronounced “Niece” so I liked it a lot, because Kathy’s nieces were the first ones that introduced us) to Tel Aviv. Kathy spilled pumpkin spice latte on herself in Rochester and almost forgot her coat and computer cord. In New York at JFK airport, the server dropped her organic wheat crust and hormone free cheese pizza on the floor, but then said Kathy could have a free Fiji water. The bottle said it had a uniquely soft mouthfeel because it was filtered through volcanos, but Kathy was thinking that drinking water flown from Fiji to New York probably left a pretty big carbon imprint, but then her new teammate Corey Lockhart told her that in an airport it’s probably silly to worry about a bottle of water’s carbon footprint.
In Nice, Kathy was just going to take a little nap, because the seats let you lie down, but she ended up sleeping four hours.
You could see the Mediterranean Sea from the waiting room!
Our first night in Hebron, Tarek cooked a yummy meal of fish, potato, onions and salad. To my left is Joanne from Chicago, Corey from Kentucky, Mona from Ramallah, Palestine (She’s the team coordinator), Tarek–originally from Bethlehem, Palestine and now from Washington, DC (He’s the Palestine Project Support Coordinator), Gabriel from Santa Catarina, Brazil, Martin from the Netherlands and Alwyn from England.
Tarek also brought some yummy Turkish delight! People will understand Narnia better, Kathy thinks, if they eat this.
That’s all for now! Adults might want to check out my new twitter account @Markie4peace.
I will soon be leaving for a field assignment with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT). For those of you who don’t know me well, I work most of the year for CPT from my home in Rochester, NY, editing releases from workers staffing our projects in Iraqi Kurdistan, Colombia, North American Indigenous communities, etc.
At least once a year, however, I spend some time in the field, so I am alerting my blog readers that I will soon be shifting my writing into a more political mode (maybe I should say “even more political.”)
Those of you who know me well know why I am not going to go into great detail here about the whens, wheres, whys and hows of my travel. I will post more of an explanation for those of you who don’t once I get to my destination. Those of you given to prayer—I would appreciate prayers for an open and loving heart should I encounter people on my journey who don’t want me to get to where I’m going.
I will have my traveling companion Markie with me, who will probably post some of his adventures on Facebook. He has encouraged to wear this lucky unicorn necklace. I am hoping it makes me look inoffensive.