Day 1: Building bridges when others build walls
This week, we’ll be posting blogs written by Greenbelt director Paul Northup from the Greenbelt trip to Israel and Palestine last week, as the party found out more about the situation on the ground in the land called Holy…
Today we met with three members of the grassroots, non-violent resistance movement Combatants for Peace. Our time with them came at the end of our first long, surprisingly hot day here, taking in some of the complex history, politics, geography and religion of Jerusalem and its surroundings. As we sat with them in an upper room on the outskirts of Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, their stories of transformation and resistance struck us very powerfully.
But what difference, we asked them, do the creative, non-violent actions they are involved in – at checkpoints, roadblocks and in theatres up and down the West Bank – really make. At a political level? It was clear that as individuals and in their community settings here were three people – one Israeli woman and two Palestinian men – who had learned to live beyond fear and hate and to trust one another. But who was noticing their stories of transformation, we wondered?
The young Israeli woman answered, softly but with great conviction: “At some stage, somehow peace will come. And we need to be ready to live in it when it does.” And as she spoke, the penny dropped for many of us. This was really hopeful. Rather than worry about the seemingly intractable political situation (we were at the end of a day which had made us wonder if there would ever be a solution, a just and peaceful resolution in the region), here were three people committed to preparing the ground, making it ready for the day when peace will come.
As the younger Palestinian man quipped in conclusion, his infectious and cheeky grin heightening the profundity somehow: “They build the walls. We build the bridges.”
We left our new friends in Beit Jala convinced again that hope, peace and justice will prevail. One day. Because of people like these. Because of organisations like Combatants for Peace.
Find out more about Palestine by coming along to a free event in London on 23 April with Jeff Halper of ICAHD. Click here »