Dear friends,

This experience of our friend of the Christian PeaceMaker Team is really my own experience when I was in Israel on November 1997 visiting after 14 years. It was also my experience when I was a teacher for seven years at the Latin Patriarchate Seminary of Beit-Jala. Once they stopped me for nothing when they did not stop any settler who started to build a new stettement at Ras Beit-Jala. When I protested they just said "this is Israel" the same words. The same thing is happening now and will happen always until we ask our brothers, the Israelis, that the Palestinians should be treated the same way. Only JUSTICE can help to build peace and security, cooperation and love. The five components that form the Holy Land should feel equaly sharing the same rights and same duties.

"This is Israel"

How does one explain the picture? When experienced over and over, the routine, seemingly insignificant scene I saw unfold has a dramatic impact on the lives of the Palestinians.

I was on an afternoon foot patrol in the streets of Hebron on a very rainy day. Having just passed the market intersection, I took the left fork toward the Ibrihimi Mosque. From a distance I observed an Israeli officer in a police jeep carding a Palestinian in a parked car. Though the jeep was blocking both lanes of traffic, soldiers were ordering other parked cars to move from the parking areas before their shops, apparently to facilitate traffic flow.

During a pause I walked over, greeted the three police, and told them about CPT. Shortly, one officer got out with his M-16, walked over to the other fork of the road, and proceeded to check the identity cards of the drivers in two parked cars.

The three police had been collecting identity cards and vehicle papers from Palestinians, so a small crowd was gathering. The jeep had moved to block the two lanes of the other fork and the patrolman inside was writing a ticket on an older man while I was holding an umbrella over his head. By now six vehicles had been ticketed or pulled over.

No Israeli car that passed was stopped. Up the street at Beit Hadasseh Israeli settler cars park so that only one lane of traffic is open. In this section of Hebron where Israelis are responsible for security, I have never seen a settler car stopped or ticketed by the police.

I had mentioned to the officers that treating others as we would want our family to be treated by them can be a helpful practice. One responded, "But this is Israel." I didn't understand. They started to leave and a sheaf of their papers slid onto the muddy road surface. I picked up the papers for them and then watched as the jeep did a u-turn in the center of the intersection, expecting all traffic to yield to its maneuvers.

Christian Peacemaker Teams is an initiative among Mennonite and Church of the Brethren congregations and Friends Meetings that supports violence reduction efforts around the world. CPT P. O. Box 5608 Chicago, IL 60680 tel 312-455-1199 FAX 312-666-1677 email WEB