I've always been involved in education: elementary, secondary, in the parish, in the retreat center and among people from the streets who haven't had the opportunity for classroom education. Here, from Hebron, West Bank, Palestinian territories, I've seen an urgent need to put my "teacher" hat on again and alert people in northwestern Ohio about what is really happening in this contentious area of the West Bank.
Previous columns I've written for the newspaper have dealt with checkpoints, restricted travel, unrestrained settler violence and harassment of the Palestinian community. I've challenged the reading audience to see with different eyes that which is not often printed in the United States. Though the Palestinians had nothing to do with the Holocaust of the Jews, though the Palestinians and pockets of Jews had lived peacefully together as neighbors here in Palestine before 1948, it has been the Palestinians who have had to surrender land, who have endured confinements behind the wall, who have foregone educational opportunities, medical services, familial ties due to the "security" needs of Israel and due to the spinelessness of Western nations in holding Israel accountable to international law.
There truly is camouflage verbiage used by the Israeli government in regard to "natural" growth in the settlements, in its insistence and "need" for Hamas to stop its Qassam rockets (homemade weapons which have killed seven Israelis in the last four years compared to several thousand Palestinians killed by the IDF) before the Israeli government will talk peace. This curtain of "security needs" which Israel hides behind is meant to pull the wool over the American people and others. When people throughout the world see the truth, there is danger their national governments no longer will pump funds into Israel for continued land confiscation, settlement building, demolition of Palestinian homes and construction of the wall.
This past week, the effects of this Israeli occupation came to my neighborhood again in zoom-like fashion. Each day, young boys sell trays of sweets throughout the Old City of Hebron. As Ahmad, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy, called out his chant for people to buy, a soldier at the Ibrahimi Mosque held his fingers over his lips and said, "Shh."
Ahmad continued to chant. This enraged the soldier, who then chased the boy at full speed down the road toward another checkpoint. Here, he caught the boy and beat him with fist and boot/knee. Other soldiers pulled the soldier off the boy while he continued to scream at the boy.
The Palestinian boy crouched against the checkpoint barrier, crying for help. Shopkeepers gathered, examined the boy's injuries and asked Christian Peacemaker Tem members to alert the police. A policeman and the captain of the soldier examined the boy, and heard his and shopkeepers' testimonies. The boy then went for medical attention.
Like other peace groups, we publish this information on our Web site, CPT.org, hoping people like yourselves will take the time to learn of the misery the occupation inflicts upon Palestinians.
Sister Paulette Schroeder of St. Francis in Tiffin is a member of the Christian Peacemaker Team in Hebron, Palestine, for the next several years.