Saturday, February 15, 2014

What was really going on...


Israeli soldiers at the village of Al Khadr, south of Bethlehem. Obstensibly there to prevent stones being thrown at settlers, the soldiers are known to deliberately provoke violence by attacks on the schools and villagers.

Readers of this blog may be forgiven for thinking that all we were about in Palestine and Israel was tourism. This is true to some extent--we certainly did some touring, as you have no doubt seen.

What we were really about--our primary purpose--was human rights monitoring and protective presence for those under Occupation, under the auspices of the World Council of Churches and the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel. This entailed being present at checkpoints at peak hours (about 4:30 AM to 6:30 AM) to monitor treatment of Palestinians going through to Israel; responding to emergencies such as house demolitions, settler violence, and Israeli Defense Force violence against Palestinians; reporting weekly and as needed to the United Nations through the World Council of Churches. One more thing: advocacy, perhaps the most important activity of all.

We are mandated to speak out about what we experienced there in order to create awareness in our fellow citizens to put pressure on the Israeli government and military to end the Occupation and to conform to international law. We Canadians can hang our heads in shame at our government's idiotic pro-Israeli stance, but we individually may do something to counteract it.

To that end, I already have another blog, http://walkinginbethlehem.blogspot.com , where you can see what was really going on at the time. Occasionally, I'll post relevant pieces here as well, but I will try to avoid cross-posting.


Checkpoint 300, the largest between Israel and Palestine, in Bethlehem, at 5:30 AM. Over 5000 workers pass through this checkpoint in some 2 hours. Like all checkpoints, 300 is operated capriciously, resulting in tremendous frustration on the part of the workers.

Not that the "tourist" pictures are faked or anything: every site we photographed, we visited and took in. As Ecumenical Accompaniers, we were able to travel and be tourists on our days off, so we did just that. 

Palestine is a place under siege, and no matter what "peace initiatives" are tried, nothing is going to change until Israeli government policy and actions change. We hope to play a small part in that.

2 comments:

marja-leena said...

Peter, I am stunned, amazed and proud of what you and your wife have been doing! I've followed your interesting visits as tourists and now will go read your other blog. We need more like you! Shame on our government!

Peter said...

Kiitos, M-L. We worked with some delightful Finns while we were there, as well. Btw, I haven't been able to comment in your blog (though I still lurk) because Wordpress won't let me do so unless I have an account...!