Mary Yoder came to speak to us today about her experience in the West Bank with a Christian Peacemakers Team.  Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) offer an organized, nonviolent alternative to war and other forms of lethal inter-group conflict through public witness.  However their mission may include nonviolent direct action.   Nonviolent direct action means they risk injury and death to intercede on behalf of the downtrodden when they are confronted with violence and oppression.

Mary did three month assignments in the West Bank in 2003, 2005, and 2007.  In 2007 she spent her time in the Palestinian village of At-Tuwani which is surrounded by the growing Jewish Settlements.

Mary said it was important to know that Israel has no constitution, so the government decides which privileges are granted to a group and there is no basis to appeal a government decision.  The government decided that At-Tuwani should have no electricity and no school.  When the Israeli settlers encroach upon the Palestinian lands, the Army will allow it to happen.  In the case of At-Tuwani, the settlers were so aggressively assaulting the Palestinians that sometimes, through a sense of basic human decency, the army would intervene on the side of the Palestinian- something that rarely happens in the West Bank.

It is also important to know that, although the majority of Israelis would like to have peace with the Arab world, the settlers do not believe in Peace.  They are fundamentalists — meaning that their brand of religion strays fundamentally from interpretation that the rest of their co-religionist believe.  These fundamentalists believe that God wants Israel to have dominion over the West Bank and that peace is secondary to that goal if they believe in peace at all.  Also interesting was the news that many of the settlers were Americans by birth.

The CPT would accompany the shepherds out as they grazed so that they could be a witness to the beatings they were getting by the settlers, or, if necessary, intercede by placing themselves between the settler and the victim of violence.

It truly is a thankless job.  Mary indicated that it was difficult to witness so much inhuman treatment that was being delivered to the Palestinian villagers.  So much so, that she feels that it is impossible for her to return to witness more beatings until she recovers from her last time there.  You can only watch so many beatings before you can take it no longer.  Mary’s presentation brings to mind that in America, the press reports Palestinian attacks on Israel.  Speaking for myself, I can not remember when anything was ever reported about the way the settlers encroach shamelessly on the land that is being farmed by Palestinians or that the settlers can use violence against Palestinianss in the West Bank without fear of any form of justice being visited upon them.  According to what Mary told us, the most the army will do to intervene is to stop some of the most inhumane violence being visited upon the Palestinians.  They will not charge a settler with any kind of crime.  Stan pointed out that this brings to mind the brutality the Americans visited upon the natives here in North America where no settler would ever face charges for an assault on a member of a native tribe – man, woman or child.

In joys and concerns:  Shirley is in Cleveland being diagnosed by the Cleveland clinic.  She is staying with her sister there, but she reports that she misses us and our discussions.   We lit a candle for the unrest in the middle east.

In announcements, On February 4, 2011, our own Stan Bradley was featured in a Dispatch article titled “Church, without God”.

Becca wants everyone to know that Green Drinks/Green Columbus is screening the film “COOL IT.”  It is being billed as an intelligent entertaining treatment of climate policy.  The author of the script is Bjørn Lomborg, so the discussion is likely to be lively.  Mr Lomborg is one of those who does not believe the earth climate data that he has examined supports the case for Global Warming.

Also, Nick and Tony Jorgenson put in an appearance to bring to life Betty’s children;s story.  We all enjoyed the dramatic reading very much.

Please register your Kroger Plus card.  The church NPO number is 80237.  Don’t know what an NPO number is??  Well, OK, I dont either.  It is just the number in the Kroger rewards system that they use to identify the church congregation.