Breaking Glass

Broken Glass

A Palestinian boy on a bike ‘breaking the glass’

I remember an old Mythbusters episode about a guy who would jokingly run full speed into double pained glass, knowing it would not break. One day the glass unexpectedly shattered. The conclusion was that glass is dangerous because it never shows its weakness, but under enough sustained pressure, will suddenly, unexpectedly breaks.

This lesson has been on my mind recently. I have been working on a campaign to save 8 villages in the southern Tip of the West Bank from being evacuated and demolished. This area is referred to as Masafer Yatta, and is the area I blogged about in my post Firing Zone. There are dozens of international, Israeli, and Palestinian organizations working in tandem with the Palestinians living there on multiple fronts to pressure the Israeli courts, public, military, and government to respect international law and allow the 1000 people to continue to live and work on the lands they have inhabited for generations. That’s a nice sentence, right? It sounds effective and strategic. And we are doing a lot of work on this issue.

Masafer Yatta family

Our host chats with his sons

One day a week another CPTer and I spend the night with a family in Masafer Yatta. The families see it as being essential to have an international presence in the Firing Zone, in case of harassment by soldiers or demolitions. Especially with the legal proceedings beginning on December 16th the families feel especially targeted and want internationals there at all times. Between CPT and a few other organizations we have this covered. It is great to get out of the city and into the hill country of Masafer Yatta. I get to hike through beautiful scenery, practice my Arabic, and participate in their unique lifestyle. Not to mention they are very good cooks, especially for cooking most things over a fire in a small hut. But I don’t feel like I’m really doing anything. I just walk from village to village visiting with people. It feels insignificant.

Another part of the work is advocacy. We are trying to get the word out about what is happening here to the international community. Basically the strategy is to ‘put Masafer Yatta on the map’ thus making it harder for Israel to annex that area. For this part of the advocacy I made a video, an interactive report, and a web page to organize all the different aspects of the campaign (many of which are not public yet). I also helped put together an Avaaz petition for the public to sign (more on that later). I am in the process of promoting all of this stuff through social media, CPT releases, and our advocacy connections. But I don’t feel like I’m really doing anything. I put up some video that a few dozen people see, or a petition that a few hundred people sign, but it all feels so insignificant, especially compared to the devastation that could be facing 1000 people.

Yesterday another CPTer and I took part in a public action of cycling into the Firing Zone. This was planned out by Palestinians and internationals. I don’t know who thought it was a good idea to take bikes into that hilly, muddy, rocky unpaved land, but they were wrong. The action went really well though. There were people marching and people attempting to ride bikes, we got about 100 people to participate. Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals; men, women, and children all participated. There were even a few people from the press covering the whole thing.

Part of our group followed by a spontaneous police escort.

Part of our group followed by a spontaneous police escort.

On the walk we confronted about 30 soldiers who were there to ensure we did not disturb the Israeli outpost. (we didn’t and the soldiers allowed us on our way). An outpost is an group of Israeli homes built on Palestinian land against Israeli law. Despite their illegality the outpost receives water, electricity, paved roads and military protection from the Israeli government, while the legal Palestinian villages are denied the right to dig wells, put up solar panels for electricity, or do any building whatsoever, not to mention the possibility of being wiped off the face of the earth. Looking at the discrepancy made our actions feel insignificant. How does a group of people marching address this kind of injustice?

It all feels like we’re just running into a glass wall. There are no cracks or weaknesses to be seen. There is no way these insignificant act can do anything. But the occupation, like the glass wall does feel the pressure, even if it doesn’t show it. Each little insignificant act adds to the invisible strain on the glass.

So I have a favor to ask. It is easy, actually it’s too easy. It’s insignificant. Please sign this petition. Share it, get as many people to do this insignificant act as you can. It may not appear that it does anything, but maybe with enough pressure the glass wall, without warning, will shatter.


Pray that I don’t get discouraged when it appears I’m not doing any good

Pray that the courts do what is right on December 16

Pray for the safety of the villagers

Pray that the ‘glass will break’

Pray for peace