Over the last several weeks I have found myself getting increasingly angry about the occupation. As I have thought through it, my anger is seated in an increasing sense of hopelessness. As I stand at the checkpoint early in the morning with 800 sad faces looking to me for some kind of solution to their daily misery, I cannot help but get very frustrated by the fact that there is little I can do but feel their pain. It is easy for me to see how they have slipped in and out of hopelessness over the last 40 years of the occupation.
I now have only three weeks left here. It is amazing to me how fast my time here has gone. The next team will arrive this week and we will begin the long handover process, so that they can carry on the work that was handed to us eight weeks ago. We are the 30th EAPPI team. With our team, there have been over 500 people from around the world who have participated here to try to make life better for those caught in this struggle, but more importantly, to share what we learn here with our friends, neighbors, associates, church members, political leaders, and the wider public upon our return to our home countries. In many ways the work we have begun here is just getting started. With that in mind, I have made the choice to focus my remaining time here on finding the little pockets of hope for a solution to this deep and abiding crisis. I have found many points of light that give rise to the potential of a better future for both Israelis and Palestinians. Over the next three weeks I will focus on the people and organizations that embody hope.
In 1994 after living in his home for 4 ½ years, now with 6 children, the army came one day waving a demolition order, forced him out of his home and demolished it. For the next four years he lived in a tent next to his demolished home. Over that time he developed a relationship with Jeff Halper, the founder of the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions ( www.icahd.org ). Together Israelis and the Palestinians rebuilt Salim’s home. They started it on July 9th 1998. On August 2nd the family moved into the unfinished house. At 4 am on August 3rd the army came again to demolish it. When he refused to leave, he was dragged from the house and beaten by the IDF soldiers. His wife Arabeia, locked the door. The army shot tear gas through the windows of the house. Arabeia and the children were forced out of the house. The army promptly demolished the house for a second time.
The home was rebuilt a third time…..this time with the help of over 600 Israeli, Palestinian, and international volunteers. It was finished on April 3rd 2001. On April 4th with many of the volunteers who had built it watching the IDF came and destroyed it for a third time. They thought they had squashed this fledgling partnership. Not the case. The group can together again and rebuilt the house for a fourth time. This time the family was able live in it for a while, but in 2003 the army came in the night once again and destroyed the house for the fourth time.