One of the assignments during my CPT training last month was to write a statement of conviction. This statement was supposed to answer the question of why I wanted to work in Palestine with CPT. I never completed that assignment. First asking a recent Philosophy graduate any question that begins with ‘Why’ is a bad idea. Second there were so many reasons why I was going. Any time I went to write it, I ended up feeling like it was impossible to truly express why I was going to Palestine. For as far back as I can remember, everything that has happened in my life has been leading me toward Palestine. Some in tangible ways, and others in unexplainable ways. With all that said I’m now going to try to complete the assignment, or at least start it.
I want to go to Palestine with CPT to reclaim my roots. In 1969 my mothers family left Palestine and moved to the United States. They left because there were few educational opportunities for their children. They left because the Israeli government had nearly split their family apart multiple times. They left because even though ‘America is no place to raise a family’, at least there wasn’t war there. I am sure there were other reasons for their leaving, but these were the most obvious. The reason for my going to Palestine cannot be disconnected from their leaving Palestine. In some sense I want to go to Palestine in the spirit of return. I do not want to return vengeful for the wrongs done to my family, or to the Palestinian people as a whole, but I want to return hopeful. I want to return in a spirit of optimism that people can live together in peace and with justice, and that I can help bring that about.
I want to go to Palestine with CPT because what is happening there is wrong.
Israel occupying the West Bank for over 40 years, and doing everything it can to make life so miserable for Palestinians that they must leave, is wrong. In Hebron and the surrounding area, where I will be working, this comes in the form of demolishing homes, uprooting fruit trees, stealing olives from orchards, killing livestock, threatening children as they walk to school, throwing eggs and rocks at children, detaining Palestinians at checkpoints, denying vehicular and pedestrian traffic (including emergency vehicles), poisoning wells, and limiting the water supply, among others.
Dehumanizing others is wrong. This is happening on both sides of the conflict, people are stereotyped and demonized to justify any actions against them.
To be blinded by a society into believing Israel is a victim and therefore justified to do anything to protect itself is wrong.
To live in fear and to force others to live in fear is wrong. I have been taught, through words and examples, that I have a responsibility to be aware of the wrongs around me, and that if I am able, I have a responsibility to do something about the wrong.
I want to go to Palestine with CPT because I actually believe the lessons I learned in Sunday school. I believe that we should love everyone, that we should do good to those who persecute us. I believe that love is stronger than hate, peace is stronger than violence, and that the universe does bend toward justice. I believe that oppression not only binds the oppressed but also binds the oppressor through blindness, and that we are called to proclaim release to the oppressed and recovery of sight to the blind. I believe that Jesus loved through suffering with us, and that he calls us to do the same.
I hope that my reason for going to Palestine (or doing anything) comes down to this:
I am going to Palestine with CPT because I am trying to love God with all my heart, soul, and might; and love my neighbors, near and far, Jew and Arab, as I love myself.