By Dedrick Muhammad,
After hours of discussion, planning over a hand drawn map
of the area surrounding the Church of the Nativity, sneaking into the
Palestinian city of
We grabbed our Peace in the
The Church of the Nativity historically is the place
believed to be where Jesus Christ was born. The church is believed to be built
on this sacred location. For the last
month the Church of the Nativity has been the site of a siege by the Israeli
army. When the Israeli army decided to re-occupy
Our mission was to supply those in the church with
humanitarian aid: food, water, and mission and let it be known that much of the
world is against
There was an eerie silence over the town. There was no music, no television, and no sounds of children playing. I begin to wonder are there really people in these buildings surrounding me.
As we walk the streets, signs of life emerge. At first I hear some commotion in the Apartment building we are walking by. I look up and see children waiving to us, putting peace signs in the air. Our group warmly responds in kind. The children start cheering the presence of the “Internationals” happy to see someone walking the streets even if they cannot. At this point men and women come to the windows to greet us.
Hundreds of families, thousands of Palestinians have been made prisoner in the own homes for weeks. For the crime of steeping out on the street or merely looking out the window a Palestinian can unquestionably be shot. Israeli soldiers when possible ignore “internationals” for it can open up a diplomatic and public relations nightmare. This allows internationals to resist the occupation in a manner Palestinians never could.
This power, this utilization of American privilege to stand up for those that have no rights anyone is bound to respect made me realize the power of non-violent action particularly by those who are citizens of and therefore protected by Western Europe and the United States and Canada. As an African-American it reminded me of the protective role white involvement in the Black Civil Rights movement of the South played.
I briefly imagined one thousand “internationals” walking
the streets of
After sitting in at the front of the church with our peace signs, the Israeli army eventually made its way to us dragging and pushing us away from the church. The soldiers placed us all out of the manger square and told us to stay seated while they brought in a military escort to take us from the area. Hawaida Arraf, the Palestinian-American who co-founded ISM, led us all to stand up and walk away from the soldiers, refusing
to recognize the authority of the occupation forces. The soldiers were shocked that we would try to walk away from them and had only stationed a few soldiers to guard us. After some futile attempts to block our path, the street was too wide to prevent us from going around them, they amazingly gave up and we walked away.
This experience along with our participation in a Palestinian demonstration in Ramallah where the people of Ramallah marched to the compound of their President who was surrounded by the Israeli army proved the power of non-violent direct action in modern times and the inability of elite military forces to deal with it.
In Ramallah when soldiers started firing live ammunition at stone throwing youth, the ISM formed a barrier between the youth and the soldiers. This stopped the Israeli army from firing their guns at the Palestinians and stopped the Palestinians from throwing rocks. This important demonstration by the Palestinian people occurred with no fatalities I think partially due to our action.
Government and the
“Let us be realists, let us do the impossible.”
“Let me say at the risk of appearing ridiculous that the
true revolutionary is guided by strong feelings of Love.”
Both by - Ernesto “Che” Guevera