Fundraising in March 2019

Thank you for looking at my wordpress page.

During March I aim to raise £400 towards the work of CPT. Donations are in USD$ and £5.00 is equivalent to $6.50.

To make a donation to CPT please  Click here

If you would prefer to donate in pounds Stirling, I’ve set up a PayPal account here:


For further information about CPT please click here

If you have any questions about CPT then please PM me.


The world is well prepared to win the war, but not well prepared to win the peace. (Marie Dennis)

Thank you for your donation towards the work of CPT.   CPT stands for Christian Peacemaker Teams. CPT are a human rights organisation, committed to building partnerships that transform violence and oppression. 

CPT’s routes grew from a pacifist Mennonite tradition, recognising the need for a more assertive but still non violent resistance to systemic oppressions. CPT reflects presence, spirituality and faith and strengthens grassroots initiatives.

CPT have teams working alongside  communities in Iraqi Kurdistan, Colombia, and Palestine where indigenous people are having their land, homes and livelihoods destroyed  by the state and corporate powers. There is also a team on  the Greek island of Lesvos, where 10,000 migrants live in the refugee camps.

Whilst I have visited the team in Lesvos, my main experiences of CPT have been in Palestine.  

CPT Palestine walks alongside Palestinians who face daily human rights violations living in Al Khalil/Hebron. Children as they walk to school, residents as they are ID checked, searched, detained and arrested, farmers during times of planting and harvest. 

CPT lives in the community and documents these violations standing in solidarity with the community’s efforts to resist the occupation and claim their rights, dignity and freedom.

During a  CPT delegation  to Palestine in August 2017, I visited a Bedouin community.

When people with direct experience of the struggle against the Israeli occupation speak, the challenge to do something in response can be overwhelming. I was unprepared for every story I heard. Some experiences just don’t leave you alone, attaching themselves to you, like a recurring loop in your consciousness. I will share some of the truths I experienced. 

I camped out overnight at the village of Um Al Khair which lays in the shadow of an illegal Israeli settlement. I heard stories of multiple home demolitions. This small rural community raise goats and grows thyme which is the main ingredient of zatar, a delicious palestinian condiment. I met an impressive young man called Tariq who had a maturity beyond his young age of 21. Tariq explained very clearly the issues faced by his community. He shared how his brother was beaten by a settler whilst he was herding his goats. Apparently he went too close to the settlers fence with the goats and he now has severe brain damage and is unable to function as an adult. His mother was also badly beaten and her donkey stolen. The village bread oven has also been destroyed multiple  times and they now have to buy bread which is a lot more expensive.

The delegation was arranged so that we heard from different perspectives. Israeli Jews, Palestinian Christians and Muslims provided us with hospitality. And we visited a mosque and attended both a Christian as well as a Jewish Shabbat service.

Every person and community was different, but certain traits linked them all: hospitality, openness and sumud (steadfast perseverance).  

Your financial gift supports the work of CPT by helping to cover team members costs whilst they carry out the work of accompaniment with partners around the world.  Full time team members give up their earning potential to carry out this work. Why not consider joining a delegation yourself. For further information visit,

Thank you for your support.

In peace,



Reflecting on Privilege in Relation to Racism

I started writing this in August 2018, following a month long training in Jordan, with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT). During the training we were called to reflect upon our privilege in relation to racism. I am and this is, a work in progress.

Please click on the various hyperlinks in the text.

Today is 3rd December 2018 and the headline in The Guardian newspaper reads: Racism in Britain: the stark truth uncovered.  I feel prompted to try and put some structure into my writing and to share it with friends and family.  As many of you know, I am recovering from two recent major abdominal surgeries and sepsis and therefore this writing might not flow as well as it could. However, I feel passionately about undoing oppression and non-violent resistance and this is my way of continuing to be an activist rather just a clicktivist although please do sign those petitions I send you!

I would highly recommend you read the Guardian article on racism in Britain:


We arrived at Amman airport hotel. There was a large group of people in the hotel foyer. I was conscious of trying not to stare. The people were dressed so vibrantly and in contrast to the way I was dressed, I found it  hard not to keep looking. Men wearing brightly coloured skirts and hats, women in stunning garments. Later in the dining room, I observed some people in the group were eating with their right hand which I associate with Muslim dining etiquette. It’s so easy to make assumptions when there is a difference between people but I found myself watching these people eat and I felt uneasy by my gaze and wondered if I had made them feel uneasy too.   I later found out that they were from South Sudan.

Passport and Freedom of Movement

The last couple of weeks the news has reported about migrants arriving in dinghies on the south coast of England. We hear less, if anything about the thousands more on the Greek island of Lesvos and hundreds drowning in the Mediterranean and thousands dying of starvation in Yemen.  Millions of people worldwide living in refugee camps for too many years. No one seems to ask why are people migrating or what might they be fleeing from.

I’m reminded of my privilege to have a home and the freedom to travel the world and then return to that home. I am conscious that I have done nothing in my life that warrants this passport privileged life that I have. I have often seen it stated in the media and then heard people say ‘illegal immigrants’.  What right does anyone have to call another human being ‘illegal’? What right does anyone have to tell another human being that they do not have the right to self determination?

What is White Privilege

The subject of white privilege is not widely discussed in the UK.  I am beginning to explore my white privilege. As I sit here on my iPad Pro, thinking about my white privilege, I am mindful that this very act is a very privileged thing to be doing.

I was born with a set of unearned and invisible advantages and benefits because of the colour of my skin. The system I was raised in was created by the values and perceptions of white people. The system I belong to is run by people who are the same colour as me. These advantages remained invisible to me until several years ago when I started spending time alongside refugees and asylum seekers. Once I began to realise that I had done nothing to deserve all the privileges in my life, I tried to make some changes in the way I see and treat other people who were not born into these advantages.

I watched this film about whiteness

I watched this film about white privilege and it gives an example of how a person who is perceived as white, is able to walk through the world differently. The film encouraged me to become more conscious about what I might witness happening and how I can use my privilege in helping with undoing oppressions

I know that I am privileged in many ways. I am privileged as white middle class passport holding citizen. I am privileged as a cisgender woman. I am privileged as an able-bodied person. I am privileged that my first language is also our national language.

I am a white woman and a product of being raised with the myth of progress. Progress is ingrained in me. I am motivated to do my best and to be a good person.  I have learned that the concept of progress did not appear in other cultures, or even western thought until around 300 years ago, and yet it is so much part of who I am. Other cultures have different perspectives of cycles of time, seasons and history. As an activist, I am future focussed and committed to creating a better life and a better world but from a position of privilege and with the myth of progress.

I came across this article about ‘all the ways white people are privileged in the UK’. and I am reminded how people of colour, particularly, black, Pakistani and Bangladeshi are more than twice as likely to be without work than white people and I have become more aware of my privilege.  In contrast, I have never been without work when I wanted it and I have only recently become aware of this imbalance. I live in a country where wealthy politicians help the wealthy people the most and the poor and powerless people, the least and where race also determines income levels.

And whilst there are too many white British employees on low incomes, there are twice as many black and Asian workers.


The UK education system favours white British children. I haven’t given much thought to this previously as I live in a world that has been tailor made for white people like me.

Pupils of Roma background are more than three times as likely to be excluded from school, compared with white British children. Black Caribbean pupils are almost twice as likely to be excluded.

Sometimes I’ve found myself caught up with expressing my own perceived educational disadvantages but then realise I need to check my privilege because the reality is that this disadvantage is based on white privilege and not on the colour inequality that plagues every aspect of the UK schooling system. I can’t imagine what being a person of colour, in the UK education system might be like. My educational experience was grossly inadequate and I still left school with virtually no qualifications but with white privilege have been able to navigate a way through life. Without my white privilege, I would have faced multiple barriers, the likes of which, I really can’t begin to know.

         ‘92 percent of teachers are white. Asian and black teachers account for just six percent’

‘2015 only 85 of 15,905 professors in the country’s academia were black’

‘only 15 black academics in the British university system were working in senior management roles’

‘black students are 1.5 times more likely to drop out of university than their white and Asian counterparts’

When I read this, I was shocked by my ignorance. I am becoming more aware of the huge impact the white system has on people of colour. I feel angry and ashamed that I didn’t know

I have noticed myself becoming a lot more aware of what I might be thinking and considered, before I speak. I realise that it’s not enough to be ‘un-racist’, and that I need to become ‘anti-racist’. This requires me to actively acknowledge my own privilege. Even though I didn’t ask for this privilege, it was given to me at birth and now I need to actively acknowledge that this privilege is a major cause in the inequality suffered by others.

I want to be able to notice and acknowledge, when my race has made my life easier and someone else’s life harder. I am unlearning subconscious prejudices and checking my thoughts, actions and language for hidden bias.

Everyone Wants to Come to the UK (not so)

The mainstream media are leading people to believe that everyone wants to come to the UK because it is a better place to live and that all ‘these people’ are coming to the UK and taking our jobs.  This is not true.

What people don’t realise is that there are more people from the UK, working in Europe than there are people from other European countries working here.  People take for granted their passport privilege and being able to work abroad and then question people’s right to work in the UK. People in the UK criticise people who can’t speak English and yet we are the last to learn a second language. We move abroad, to Spain, France etc and don’t bother to learn the language and instead join an ex-pat community and live in a white English speaking bubble.

We are on the inside, looking out and observe others as different, lesser humans. Consciously or subconsciously, we think we are superior, although I know, one should never generalise about a particular population. When we move abroad, we like to be called ex-pat but when foreigners move to the UK they are immigrants. It seems there are two rules at play here.

The UK is becoming more and more right wing. Brexit threatens to close  the UK down from immigration. Racist attacks have become more commonplace. Boris Johnson a conservative MP is hailed a hero by white supremacists for describing women who wear the Burqa, as looking like bank robbers and post boxes.  He is appealing to the right wing voters and its rumoured he could make a bid for the Conservative party leadership. It would be a very sad day if he ever became prime minister. He has been likened to Donald Trump and the UK establishment seems to be supportive of this violent white supremacist practice.

I have never experienced racism, classism, sexism or deprivation and therefore am unable to begin to understand what that might be like.  I think that rather than pretending to understand racism, I need to focus on identifying the privileges of my whiteness and how that has made my life easier and other’s lives harder.  Acknowledging that people of colour live in a racialized society whilst I go about in a state of colour-blindness. I really want to become less oblivious to what’s happening. I want to see the injustice and I want to speak out more against it.  

Until relatively recently, I had not been aware of white privilege, which is a classic traite of white  privilege. I have had white privilege all my life and I have not experienced the barriers in life, that not being white brings. I have no doubt contributed to and benefitted from a prejudicial and discriminatory system.

There is a  difference between white supremacy and white privilege. This article is from a US perspective.  There is little in the UK to read about this but there are many similarities.

The article states: White supremacy refers to a racial hierarchy in which whiteness sits atop of. The United States was founded on a system—legally, culturally, economically, and politically—of white male upper class supremacy. All of these remain today.

I’m aware that I lack a lot of knowledge about UK history but I can see that our current system is very similar if not identical to the US.

These are some things I learned from the article.

White supremacy refers to the system and white privilege refers to the many benefits from that system.

White privilege is, when growing up,  all of my teachers in school looked like me and almost all of the characters in children’s books and on TV looked like me.  White privilege is, as an adult, walking into a room and being interviewed by people who look like me.

It’s white supremacy that created the system where this could happen.

I read this article as part of my self education.  To have reached the age of 53 and to be so ignorant of British history is a real shame. Governments are very adept at manipulating the memories of the populations they supposedly serve.  

Writing this reflection on white privilege has been really educational. It has helped me to realise just how limited my education has been.  We were not taught any British history around Imperialism at school and it seems to be missing from the mainstream consciousness of the UK. I have become more aware of how much I do not know and I am embarrassed by my ignorance.  I don’t know what I don’t know but I am willing and interested to find out.

As is said at the start of this piece of writing, I am a work in progress. Thank you for reading and please click on the links and watch and read the short articles.


CPT Training Amman 2018

We are home and it feels great to be back in Moray.

I might be sending you this, because you have shown an interest and have been supportive during my recent exploration into the work of CPT.  Writing this will also hopefully help me to begin to process the month of training in Amman.

By embarking on CPT training I hoped to gain a deeper understanding of the work and discern whether joining a CPT team was for me.

Participating in CPT training was not without some personal challenges. As you know, the preceding months had been fraught. The deaths of my Mum, Step Dad and Brother in Law as well as other major life and family events meant that I had low  emotional reserves. Self care during the weeks leading up to and during training was a priority.

The group comprised 13 trainees, four trainers and care support. We travelled to Amman from Holland, Canada, USA, Palestine, Ireland and UK. We lived in shared apartments. Owen and I shared with Melissa from the US who is the newly appointed Care Coordinator for CPT and Erin from Canada. We named our home, ‘The Dungeon Apartment’ because it was the darkest accommodation, being on the ground floor, it had bars at the windows and shutters that blocked out any daylight.  It was small and airless, but a comfortable space and we really enjoyed each other’s company. The washing machine didn’t work, so we bought a large bucket. Other than a blocked drain causing a flood in the kitchen and Owen sticking his hand down the drain to clear the stinky sludge, we had no issues.

We took it in turns to shop and  cook and all felt the burden of this task at the end of our long days in training.


Owens turn to cook


Melissa, Owen and Erin

Each day, we left the dark apartment at 7.30am, put on our sunglasses and took a taxi to the training centre about four miles away. The group convened for a reflection at 8am and we each took it in turns to lead this time together.  Some reflections were longer than others, some more engaging. Training was four hours in the morning and three in the afternoon, with a two hour lunch break for working on any assignments and rest. We had a rota for lunch prep and ate a lot of hummus and pitta bread. We had a closing circle at the end of each day, followed by daily tasks such as mopping floors and cleaning toilets. We usually left the training centre around 6.30pm. Owen and I often walked back to the apartment which took an hour and a quarter, including a ritual ice cream stop!


Melissa 7.30am en route to training

Being part of an intentional community was an intense experience. Meeting strangers and walking with them whilst they also walked with me felt risky. At times, I felt vulnerable and fragile in the space we created together.

Long hot days in an enclosed environment, the constant sound of traffic through the open window, a constant reminder that people continue their everyday lives whilst I have  been able to take time out of mine. I am reminded of my privilege to have a home and the freedom to return to it.


The training centre

Two weeks in,  I had started to form  a new identity, changing the way I saw myself and the world around me. By involving myself  in consciousness-raising dialogues, questions arose like, ‘how can I improve and be a useful tool in a world where hopelessness and injustice are rife?’ ‘What, if anything, do I have to offer a CPT team?’. Gaining invaluable insights into the values of CPT was really thought provoking and helpful. Just in case you’re still not sure, CPT are a human rights organisation committed to building partnerships that transform violence and oppression. Their routes grew from a pacifist Mennonite tradition, recognising the need for a more assertive but still non violent resistance to systemic oppressions. CPT reflects presence, spirituality and faith and strengthens grassroots initiatives.

CPT have teams working alongside  communities in Iraqi Kurdistan, Canada, Colombia, and palestine where indigenous people are having their land, homes and livelihoods destroyed  by the state and corporate powers.There is also a team on the Greek island of Lesvos, where 10,000 migrants live in the refugee camps.

I was reminded that I am part of an oppressive system and I also carry oppressive attitudes and beliefs.  I’m also reminded of some distant and recent personal hurts caused by oppressions in my family. This was, at times, painful to carry and process.

At times, I felt a bit overwhelmed by the content of the sessions. Some complex issues were presented to us and I was intellectually challenged. I found the  training room a difficult learning environment. The background noise of traffic, air conditioning and the wide variety of people’s vocal expressions, together with the limits of my tonal hearing at times felt too much to process.  The pace of the sessions seemed to move quickly for me and I felt I was constantly playing catch up. Still processing the previous day whilst trying to grasp new information and ideas. I hung on in there.

It is true, I experienced death by:

PowerPoint, group work, role play, feedback, singing, light and livelies, poor skype connections to CPT in other parts of the world and all things being awesome most of the time and ate far too much hummus, lentils and ice cream.


Group Work

You might be wondering, whether this training prepared me for CPT fieldwork and what on earth we did for an entire month? My answer is both yes and no and it will take a while to process all that we did. We were invited to go inside ourselves and be transformed. This was a profoundly individual journey in a shared space and I engaged as fully as I felt able to.  I think the long intense days were to test our stamina for team life and we both coped well.

We were given three full days off and some of us took a long day trip to Petra and Wadi Rum which was well worth the effort. On another day, we booked a hotel with a swimming pool which was luxurious.


Wadi Rum with Dan and Charlie

I stepped up to the training and stepped out of my comfort zone on multiple occasions during the month.  I surprised myself and Owen, by discovering I had a bit of a hidden talent for acting and public speaking. My closing speech was chosen as a best example and much to my discomfort,  I had to do an encore! All good confidence building stuff as I received so much praise and encouragement which felt so good.

This is a list of some of topics we covered during the month. We looked at our own spirituality, fears and core values, public witness, civil disobedience, de-escalation and nonviolent direct action, photography, public speaking, report writing, videography, social media, facilitation skills, consensus decision making. Undoing oppression, sexism, privilege, racism, LGBTQPIA terminology, single stories, microaggressions, sexual harassment. Personal styles and excess (Gilmour Freighley), music as a tool of nonviolence, conflict transformation and frameworks, nonviolent communication. Self-care, trauma. Public speaking, fundraising, CPT policies. Working with partners, human rights documentation, project briefings, truth telling, detention and arrest, death kidnap and torture, security personnel, lethal and non-lethal weapons, white supremacy and cultural appropriation.

Whilst I didn’t always agree with all that the trainers said and did, on balance, they delivered a very good programme and held the space, in what was a challenging environment, away from their usual training base in Chicago.  They had some difficult decisions to make and not everyone completed the training or was invited to become a member of CPT.

Endurance test, learning curve or enjoyable experience? All of these, yes. And It is my hope that by participating in this training,  I can continue to make some small differences in the fight against oppression in this world. At some point in the future, I’m hoping to carry out some work in the CPT field, but for the time being, I hope to continue reflecting and enjoying our home, making new connections and welcoming many visitors!

With love and in peace,



Women on Wheels

From Bradford to Scarborough to Whitby!Women on Wheels Short Film

In 2011, my colleague Judy and I ran some learn to ride a bike sessions in Lister Park in Bradford.  We loved teaching the women to ride and decided to organise a cycle trip.  We cycled along the old Cinder Track from Scarborough to Whitby and stayed overnight in  Boggle Hole hostel in Robin Hoods Bay. We had a great time and produced this short film to remember and celebrate the time together.

Let’s Go for a Cup of Tea

Let’s Go for a Cup of Tea, Mum  FA8D7E88-DD4E-40BC-82B0-31DC74790D56

August 9th 2014. That date is firmly etched into the neurones of my brain.
Let’s go for a cup of tea mum. The suitcase was already packed. It took all but two minutes to gather her things. The shiny hire car waiting outside in an attempt to put some dignity into the situation. Somehow the white R reg campervan with its eclectic sticker collection seemed inappropriate for the occasion. The 15miles in 30mins or thereabouts consisted of constant reassurance that we were going for a lovely cup of tea. Where are we going? Followed by continuous where are we goings? Knowing that this journey away from her home, would be her last. No return would be possible. Home had been deemed an unsafe place. A ‘special interests care order’ had been implemented and a deprivation of liberty document would shortly be signed by me too. This felt like the cruelest act I could ever do to another human being. To know that I was capable of such deceit and persuasion, let alone the ability to carry it out, disturbed me.
Ronnie had been ready with his 2:2 air rifle and the local police had been informed. We were not to take mum, not over his dead body. If only he had allowed the carers into the house. If only he hadn’t given mum neat rum. If only he hadn’t left mum alone for so many hours each day. If only he’d allowed her to go to the day centre in Catterick but that was full of thieves and vagabonds. If only, if only, if only. It was only a matter of time before the inevitable might of happened. Either mum would wander onto the moors by the house and become lost, have a traumatic fall or be involved in a road traffic accident or any other unimaginable consequence of her unsafe environment.
Double incontinence and sleeping in her clothes, unable to carry out any personal care for quite sometime. Mums situation was becoming messier by the day.
Two years leading up to mum leaving, visits by auntie Maureen increased to three times weekly which involved her catching three buses. Susan and I visited weekly, sometimes twice, especially for meetings with social services, community psychiatric nurses, GPs, consultants, district nurses, memory nurses and care managers. Susan had retired and I took 8 months off work to help. It seemed as though every agency was involved. It seemed as though nobody knew what to do, except for singing for the brain in Richmond, organised by the Alzheimers association. Singing all the old songs with a voluntary ukulele orchestra was brilliant for mum. She knew so many of the words and although couldn’t follow the actions demonstrated by the helpers, she had a whole set of her own actions as if she were singing on a stage. Susan and I, without exception, cried at every singing group. Perhaps because we could see mum, as she had been, before she became lost.
There were odd moments. Mum would often think I looked familiar and that I sometimes looked like her but she had no idea who I was. Rather than always explaining who I was, I just said I was a visitor. One day, I laid down on the spare bed in the front bedroom because I was both physically and emotionally drained by all the visits. Mum was so restless and I invited her to lay down beside me. I told her to close her eyes and go to sleep with me. She lay looking at me for a while and then said, “I don’t think I’ve been very nice to you” mum repeated this and looked perplexed and tearful. It was as though she knew, in that moment, that perhaps she had at times been a bit harsh. She hadn’t been the caring hands on nurturing type. I told mum that she had done her best and that was all that mattered to me. In that moment, I let go of so much from the past. I no longer felt anger or resentment towards her for all the cruel things she had said and done to me over the years. I thank God for allowing the gift of that precious moment.
Continually attempting to escape. Shit, shite and buggery and numerous expletives, all day and all night long. Kicking and hitting all who tried to stop her. Kicking and banging the front door and windows. Two weeks in and it was six days notice. Either a secure psychiatric hospital or 1:1 care. From that point on, mum was moved to the more secure area upstairs, I signed the deprivation of liberty document and she had varying levels of 1:1 care. Sometimes mum was allowed downstairs to join in activities. The lift had a mirror in it and we always had to say hello to the lady in the lift. Mum no longer recognised herself.
In August 2016 mum lost her mobility following a fall. Mum sustained a fractured ball joint in her left hip and a fractured left shoulder. The hip replacement was necessary for pain relief but she would never walk again because she was unable to process any verbal instructions from the physios. Language made little sense and verbal communication was intermittent and random in context. Two weeks in hospital included ten days without oral fluids or nutrition. I said goodbye, again, and went to Galway for two weeks, expecting a phone call.
Mum returned to Springfield Care Home for a further nine months where she spent many hours on a special air mattress in bed. She was hoisted from bed to chair and spoon fed puréed meals of beige slop. Mum continued her feisty ways and the last time I visited her, she punched me in the face whilst i was trying to give her a drink of tea from a lidded beaker.
Mum contracted a chest infection and passed away quickly on 21st April around 6am. She died before I’d been informed that she was near the end of her life. In the end, she took us all by surprise. That morning, around dawn, I awoke in a state of anxiety following the most disturbing dream I can ever recall having. I think the dream is too graphic and disturbing to share but will remain with me although the intensity has lessened over time. The following day, I awoke with some words and I read them at her funeral on 10th May 2017.

Lament not that Wynne has gone
She’s just putting her dancing shoes on
And playing all her favourite songs
Now get that record player on

Stock the larder
For its time to bake
Because if she knew you were coming
She’d have baked a cake

Polish the mirrors
Wynne’s wearing her smile
She’s gone shopping for new clobber
And will be gone a wee while

Boarding the ship
For her final sunset cruise
Imagine her singing and dancing
To all her favourite old tunes


CPT Delegation Full Itinerary August 2017

Embarking on a CPT delegation was about trying to get a feel for their work and asking myself if I could imagine being part of a CPT team.

Daily logs were kept by several members of the delegation and I have used these, as well as my own notes, to write this summary. I hope that the group feel this is an accurate representation of our time in Israel and Palestine. In writing this, I hope the reader will gain some useful insights and feel inspired to join a delegation and go and see for themselves.

This delegation was well organised and a thoughtful itinerary was led by Amy Yoder McLoughlin from Pennsylvania. We were a group of 13, mostly American, one Canadian, my partner Owen and I, age range from 20yrs to 76yrs. The first half of the delegation was based at a hostel in the Arab quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem. The pace of the delegation began gently as we attempted to acclimatise to the heat and increased as we had a full and intense itinerary to complete.
We volunteered for daily tasks, note taking, photography, cooking and group care. My reflection was the poem, ‘I Will Not Die and Unlived Life’ by Dawna Markova, I recommend her book.



Our first visit was to Sabeel, a Christian Liberation Theology Centre where we met one of the founders, Cedar, born in Haifa in 1935. Sabeel’s meaning is ‘a spring of water along the way’. Cedar shared her personal story. She was part of a whole generation that were educated by a culturally and politically disconnected system, she learned English and not Arabic. She recalled how people of different ethnicities and faiths, lived together until the human Nakba (catastrophe) in 1948. Her family were amongst 700,000 – 900,000 Palestinians who were forcibly expelled or fled in fear, from their homes in the areas that became the state of Israel. From Haifa, people fled to Lebanon on boats and others to Nazareth whilst the Zionist militia shot at their backs. This, she described as an Identity Nakba.

She explained how, once the conflict began, she and many other Palestinian Christians began to experience a Theological Nakba, losing their Christian identity. Realising that the theology delivered by the missionaries that the Palestinians had no part in the promised land, was imported from a western dominated perspective. Realising just how skewed that interpretation had been, she returned to her faith. Cedar shared how she has subsequently learned to read the bible through Palestinian eyes and not through the eyes with which she had been taught.

The four principles of Sabeel are: 1/ Stand up for justice without picking up the sword 2/ Rise above the ways of the world but never abandon the poor 3/ Seek the humanity of the oppressor
4/ Be loyal to your faith without adhering to strict and narrow religions.

We shared communion and lunch together. I was struck by her passion and the power of her personal stories. I also learnt that there are many different Jewish sects within Judaism.

Military Court Watch

After lunch we heard from Gerard Horton, a Lawyer with Military Court Watch (MCW) and his wife (?name) who supports affected families. MCW monitor the treatment of children in Israeli military detention. He talked about the objectives of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank being that of intimidation and shared examples of regular night raids and how there are around 1400 night arrests each year. He shared facts and figures that demonstrate the disproportionate response from the military, to children throwing stones. How the children are taken from their beds at night, into administrative detention, outside the judicial process and can be held for up to 18 months without access to parents and lawyers. 74% of youth captured are interned in Israel which is a war crime. Confessions are written in Hebrew and there’s a 95% conviction rate. This has a devastating impact on children’s emotional welfare, their education, family relationships and subsequent ostracism from the community as they are now under suspicion of being an informant. Destroying the family structure means no organised resistance. Divide the community, break their spirit. The YMCA offers family counselling but resources are very limited.

Further information:

Military Court Watch
Breaking The Silence
Stone Cold Justice, The Green Prince, The Gatekeepers, The Law in These Parts

Lifta & Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum

The next day, we met Tamar, a Jewish tour guide. Tamar was born in Germany, but came to study history in Israel and later converted to Judaism. We were taken to Lifta, a village in Jerusalem, abandoned when people were driven out and feared for their lives during the Nakba. We saw many derelict houses where people had once lived in peace. We walked through the village, surrounded by lush trees, almonds, plums, figs, dates, olives, cacti. People tried to return to the village but the Israeli military vandalised the homes to prevent them. Tamar read a first person account from the book; ‘One Country’ about life in Lifta before the Nakba. This was incredibly powerful as we had just walked through the village and suddenly, I could imagine people inhabiting this place, living with mutual respect towards the people in neighbouring villages and this made the terror of the Nakba all the more shocking. I would recommend reading at least the introduction to this book.

Tamar guided us through the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in West Jerusalem. She was incredibly knowledgable and explained in detail the horrific plight of the Jewish people in Europe in the 1930s and 40s as the Nazi regime sought to remove the Jewish people from the land through violence and terror. I can see that similar aspects of this sad history are being repeated today by the Israeli regime towards the Palestinians.

We attended a Shabbat service at a re-constructionist synagogue and I was able to join in the singing with a transliterated hymnal.

By the end of this day, I was experiencing sensory overload. We had been given so much information and stories to process.

Further information:

Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum
Book – One Country by Ali Abunimah

Review of Ruins of Lifta documentary

Bedouin Village – Al-Araqib


Amos Gvirtz, another Jewish tour guide, introduced us to Sheikh Sayah Al Tur, the elder of a Bedouin community in the Negev desert in the village of Al-Araqib. Amos has a written a book, ‘Don’t Say We Didn’t Know’. The Bedouin belong to tribes and historically moved with their animals for grazing but the Sheikh told us that this way of life ended when the Suez Canal was built. We learnt that on the eve of 1948 there were over 65,000 Bedouins on 400,000 – 900,000 acres. In the 1948 war, the Bedouins were expelled from the Negev, until the war ended in 1959. Today, they are being forced to live in towns. We heard personal stories from the Sheikh about how the village has been demolished 122 times since 2010 and how, each time, they took refuge in the graveyard. The village has existed in this location since 1905, but it is considered an ‘unrecognised’ village and has been removed from the map. Of the 210,000 Bedouin in the Negev, half live in unrecognised villages, without electricity or gas, despite having Israeli ID, whilst the settlements expand and have total control of the natural resources, even though the Bedouin pay taxes to the same government. The unrecognised villages often have a chemical factory or a rubbish dump located nearby and this has caused health issues particularly with miscarriages and birth defects.

The Bedouin are a persecuted minority. Their way of life has been destroyed by the occupation because their land has been confiscated despite having documentation from the Ottoman era.

During our journey, I was saddened to be shown an area called the Ambassador Forest (funded by the Jewish National Fund JNF) as part of ‘Making the Desert Bloom’, an ‘environmental project’. Beneath the forest lays a Palestinian village that was destroyed. Planting a forest is a common way of covering up the evidence that Palestinian people used to live there. I was also saddened to learn that the ‘God Channel’ supports this practice by contributing funds to ‘Making the Desert Bloom’. I wondered if my friends at home who watch this channel were aware of this practice and how they would feel if they saw the reality of what was actually happening.

I was struck by the scandal and injustice of the unequal distribution of available resources. Israel is a wealthy, resource rich state and yet the Bedouin are forced to live in 3rd world conditions, denied access to electricity, water, gas and yet expected to contribute both their labour and taxes. Lifestyle destroyed by the Israeli state and being squashed out of existence.

I was struck by the resilience of the people and the local champions we met but wondered about the people we didn’t meet, those that struggle to find any purpose to their existence. I found this day disturbing.

Further Information:

Report about the Sheikh

Article about the Bedouin and Israeli regime


Don’t Say We Didn’t Know



Redeemer Lutheran Church

We attended a service at The Redeemer Lutheran Church in Jerusalem. The Rev. Carrie Berlinger-Smith is a friend of our delegation leader Amy and she led a very welcoming, connected service. She offered an alternative narrative to the story of Jesus and the Canaanite woman and how he ‘seemed’ to slight her pleas for help. The sermon connected this story with the recent demonstration by White Supremacists in Charlottesville USA. Carrie cited Musa Dube, a South African feminist, who claimed we should not be surprised as the woman’s plea is the plea of all oppressed minorities. Carrie said, “Jesus changed that day and expanded his horizons”.

After the service, we met Mordechai Vanunu, a man imprisoned for 18 years for revealing Israel’s nuclear programme. He has been free for 13years but is forbidden to leave Israel.

Grassroots Jerusalem

We met Fairuz Sharqawi of Grassroots, a civil society organisation mapping Palestinian life and politics in Jerusalem. They map the parts of Palestinian communities in East Jerusalem that have been excluded from the official maps. As part of an extensive tour, we stood at Jabalpur El Mukabar, a good viewpoint for the Old City, West and East Jerusalem. We learned about the devious legalistic techniques for driving Palestinians out of East Jerusalem. Israel’s target population demographic for Jerusalem is a 70/30 split.

Rather bizarrely, a group of armed, Orthodox Jews arrived on segways, as if on que, and attempted to intimidate Fayrouz by talking and listening in, then challenging her as to whether she had a permit (which she does) but she remained calm, informing them it was, ‘none of their business’ and carried on. She is a brave and impressive woman. I felt really angry with the aggressive intimidation and the way Fayrouz was spoken to. All I could do, was stand with my back to the aggressors.

We visited Ma’ale Adumin, a settlement in the West Bank, 7k from Jerusalem. This settlement is considered illegal by the international community. The settlement is inhabited by economic migrants in search for a better standard of living, from America and other European countries (Ashkenazi Jews). They benefit from subsidised utilities, good transport links and as they go about ‘normal’ life, are believed to be quite unaware of the oppression across the valley. This reminds me of life back home in the UK when people living in affluent suburbs can be completely unaware of the impoverished living conditions in the adjacent neighbour. People choose not to see it and live within the comfort of their own bubble. The difference in the UK is that there is no physical wall or check points.

The wall has various names; ‘security fence’ ‘apartheid wall’ ‘separation barrier’ or ‘expansion wall’. The function of the wall is not, as is popularly believe, for Israel’s security, but rather to expel Palestinians and to expand Israeli territory. It’s existence is there to make life as difficult as possible for the Palestinians so that they eventually give up and leave.

There were some strong emotions shared during the end of day check in after seeing the vistas of the occupation with our own eyes. Brenda led us in a hopeful song ‘Bring a New World into Being’.

Further information:

Rev Carrie Berlinger Smiths Blog – Knit Purl Pray Preach


Stop the Wall

Wall building started in 2002 and is now 760km. It is not just a wall, but a system of walls, creating ghettos where communities are walled in and ghost towns where people have left because living there became untenable. The north, middle and south of the West Bank are separated by the wall. The wall is not just one long line, but it twists and turns, cutting one village off from another, family members cannot visit one another, farmland is inaccessible, people cant get to work, children cant get to school without taking huge detours. If a Palestinian wants to go beyond the wall, they have to apply for a permit from Israel and pass through a military check point. The permits are difficult to obtain. There are 34-38 check points. In contrast, there is 14,000km of apartheid roads directly connecting the settlements.

We had a tour of ‘the wall’ in Ramallah. Our guide, was Jamal Juma from an organisation called Stop The Wall, whose primary objectives are to organise committees and village meetings and bring media attention to the wall. I was struck by the power of ‘the wall’ and its visually oppressive presence. It’s one thing seeing ‘the wall’, but another, living with it. ‘The wall’, means, isolation, destruction and apartheid. I just cant imagine what that must be like.

We visited a home that is in the middle of a settlement. The 70 year old owners land was confiscated and the house was to be demolished. The owner delayed the demolition by going to court so a high wire fence was erected around the house and a gate that the military controlled, effectively caging him in. The man who lived there, refused to be intimidated by the settlers, even though he was beaten and jailed, he would just sit outside his house and refuse to be intimidated. The old gentleman has since died, but the rest of the family gather at their fathers house to keep up their fathers fight against the occupation.

Palestinians being forced out of Jerusalem, go to Ramallah. The Palestinians are denied permits to build houses but as they have nowhere else to live, they build and then the homes are demolished. We saw 33 houses that had been bulldozed. There is no logic but it is quite clear where the power lays.

The organisation is an NGO and the offices are regularly raided and workers arrested following non-violent demonstrations against the wall.

In 1989, Sharon visited South Africa and came back saying that he had found the solution for Palestinians. You cant load people into trucks and drive them to borders, but you can create conditions to convince them to leave on their own.

American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)

Sahar Vardi is the Israeli coordinator from the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Middle East Regional Office. She works with Israelis who want to be conscientious objectors to mandatory army service.

Sahar shared her personal experiences and gave a thorough explanation about the constructed narratives feeding the Israeli mindset that completely normalises the use of weapons. Protect the Jews and therefore protect Israel. There are an abundance of weapons on Israeli streets. It also means there are a lot of murders. Soldiers on leave during summer months can be seen sun bathing whilst at the same time carry a M16 rifle. There are over 300,000 licenses for armed private security guards (settlement police) for a population of 8 million and that doesn’t include the civilian licenses. No soldier asks why a 15 year old Palestinian child might want to kill you when he knows he is going to die. Or why Palestinian children throw stones and risk being killed. These actions will be there as long as the occupation exists. Militarism is at the core of the states existence. It is a default and no one asks why.

The Israelis see guns as being there for safety and not as a threat, whereas in the wider world, they are generally seen as a threat. Palestinians see guns as a threat and that they are there to be used against them.

In kindergarten, the counting worksheets have the numbers as military symbols for example, 1 gun, 2 planes, 3 IDF symbols. The sword and olive branch is the symbol of the Israeli military. As education progresses, maths problems are about the military. There is also an ‘adopt a grave’ of a soldier program for children.

During 11th grade there is ‘military week’ and children complete basic military training. The entrance to schools have plaques with names of past students who dies in the military. The military is normalised and death in the military is normalised.

Less than half of the eligible population doesn’t do military service. This is because there are exemptions such as being ultra orthodox which accounts for around 30%, religious women, women with children, Palestinians citizens of Israel and the wealthy, upper classes, criminals, drug users and those from poor families if the enlisted is the main breadwinner. About 15% do not complete their military service due to mental health issues.There are financial incentives for teachers to increase student enlistment rates. There are plaques in schools for those past students who have died in the military. The soldiers are paid $200 per month which is 1/8 of the minimum wage. It’s just the next thing to do after high school.

There is a stigma if you do not complete military service and this can impact your future employment opportunities. The military has social stratification and it is usual for the Border Police and check points, to be young brown males, the Druze and Bedouin, who are marginalised groups in Israeli society. The higher classes often avoid military service but are in demand by the military and are designated to low risk jobs. The enlistment rate from marginalised groups is low and yet they have higher mortality rates. If you enter the military with left wing tendencies, you will not be posted to the border patrol as you are more likely to ‘break the silence’ about the oppression, you will be tracked to wire-tapping Hezbollah terrorists.

The military industrial complex is one of the top 10 exporters of military hardware in the world – GDP it is number one. There is no regulation on the export of arms to guard against human rights violations and no framework for a human rights embargo. However they have stopped selling to South Sudan and acknowledge AFSC in that decision. Their hardware is marketed as ‘battle proven’. The hardware isn’t necessarily manufactured in Israel, but rather, just has to have been used by them and this increases the weapons value. The USA gives military aid with the condition that they purchase 75% USA manufactured weapons.

AFSC creat space for discussion around whether young people want to serve in the military and amplify the voices of those who chose not to. They also support them with the process and also those who are imprisoned for refusing to serve. Conscientious objection status is hard to get. Out of 54,000 recruits a year, only 10-12 get conscientious objector status. They also support those have psychological issues, drug dependency and other substance misuse issues. Sahar was imprisoned for three months because she refused to serve but thought that was better than two years in the military.

Further information:

Stop The Wall



Wi’am Centre Bethlehem

We met Director Zoughbi Alzoughbi and his son Tarick Zoughbi. This organisation is a Christian conflict resolution transformation centre. It’s aim is to make the best society they can whitest also advocating in the larger conflict. They practice Sulha conflict mediation.

Zoughbi explained how the occupation has left Palestinians with a lack of control and that societies revert back to more traditional, honour and shame based, patriarchal rules and norms. Wi’am aim to counteract this trend by creating a process of mediation involving both men and women. Their work incorporates the principles of non violence, allowing people to question for themselves and addressing wrongs rather than seeking revenge, thereby being restorative and not punitive.

We could see the wall from the Wi’am centre and learnt that the wall is 80-85% complete. The idea for the wall started in 1986. The first suicide bomb was in 1993. The Israeli government comes up with ideas and then comes up with security justifications. The wall is five times as long as the Berlin Wall and twice as high and is 80% on Palestinian land. Bethlehem lost its agricultural lands. They have run out of water five times in Bethlehem so far in 2017. Israel takes the water from the West Bank and then sells it back to them.

On top of the wall facing the Wi’am building is a skunk water pipe. The army first tested the pipe on children attending the Wi’am summer camp, spraying them with the skunk water. They then had to use water in scarce supply to clean off the smell. We were shown many rubber bullets, tear gas canniseters and sound grenades littered around the building.

Tarick explained how he is a US citizen because his mother was born in the US but he is forbidden to go through Israel to get to the US. He must go through Jordan. He was educated at a Quaker college in the US.

They believe that in order to transform the Israel/Palestine into something else, there needs to be a humanising of the other and to end the demonisation of both sides. Not all Israelis are occupiers and not all Palestinians are terrorists. We are all human beings, loaded with stereotypes. We need to be progressive, open minded and mix brains and religion.

Further information:


Lajee Centre, Aida Refugee Camp, Bethlehem

We walked through a graveyard in the shadow of the wall in order to get to the refugee camp. The graveyard was littered with tear gas cannisters and rubber bullets and we were aware of being watched from the towers above.

Lajee means refugee in Arabic and the centre was founded by 11 young people from the camp who wanted to serve the community, in 2000. The centre is supported by the Mennonite Central Committee. They work with new generations of Palestinians as they continue their ongoing struggle for justice and rights for Palestine and its people. They provide the refugee youth with cultural, educational, social and development opportunities.

Aida Refugee Camp comprises of refugees from 27 different villages between Jerusalem and Hebron and was established in 1950 by the UN. There are 5700 people in .071 sq miles and they share four bathrooms.

Israel controls 83% of the water and they sometimes go for days and weeks without running water. The longest was 72 days. Meanwhile the neighbouring settlement of Gilo, has unlimited water and some swimming pools. They have regular power cuts lasting several hours despite paying the expected amount each month. There is no medical help and no clinic.

They suffer daily harassment from the army, especially male children, by using tear gas and rubber coated bullets as well as live ammunition and house searches. Unemployment is 40% because people cant get to their previous jobs in Jerusalem or their land, because of the wall and its very difficult to get a permit. An alternative economy has developed. Children throw stones at guards to feel they are doing something. Soldiers raid during the night, break down doors, wreck houses, and arrest young boys. The soldiers themselves are often 18 years old and their first action is often to shoot. The camp is used as a training ground for new soldiers.

We watched a film together, ‘We Have a Dream to Live Safe’ made by the young people at the centre which shows the army terrorising the camp. I reflected on the difference between my children’s life and life for the young people in the camp. There is no comparison between what these young people have to endure on a daily basis and the lifestyle of my children’s upbringing and yet the children look just like mine did at that age.

We heard stories of children being shot whilst playing in the streets and how just three weeks prior to our visit, soldiers invaded the Lajee centre just to frighten the children. We saw the new garden, playground and outdoor theatre. When the theatre was completed, soldiers threw tear gas on it and it caught fire. There is now a net above for protection.

Further information:

Lajee Centre




The second half of the delegation was in Hebron. This was the part of the journey that I was particularly drawn to as I wanted to see the CPT in action and the base they operated from. The team does specific work in Hebron and in the South Hebron Hills.

A city where Palestinian citizens are constantly monitored by hundreds of soldiers from the rooftops as well as many street patrols and check points. There are approximately 800 ideological settlers living in enclaves in the Hebron region and 200,000 Palestinians. 80% of the ideological settlers are Americans and a significant minority from France. Settlers are under Israeli civil law whilst Palestinians are under military law. Soldiers have jurisdiction over settlers. We visited homes and heard difficult stories about the reality of life under occupation.

We accompanied the CPT team on check point monitoring as children slowly pass through the turnstiles on their way to school. Each child, some as young as three have their school bags searched for stones, making them late, whilst settlers walk or jog past armed with M16 guns. These CPT duties are carried out daily to document any harassment by soldiers and settlers. I was struck by how immaculately turned out the children were and how innocently some would stand on the turnstile as it spun round, as though on a roundabout.

We assisted with mosque watch, counting people as they go to the mosque for Friday prayers, witnessing Palestinians being subjected to dehumanising, aggressive bag and body searches. Numbers attending Friday prayers is decreasing but its no wonder, with 2-3 checkpoints to get through and men aged between 25-35 being denied access. They often gather to pray, just outside the checkpoint.

We visited a glass and ceramics factory and a shoe factory where some people bought souvenirs. Afterwards we observed the weekly ‘Settler Tour’ of the Old City. These are often led by David Wilber, ideological settler and activist, who has written a book called ‘Breaking the Lies’. The soldiers outnumbered the settlers and the tour stops in front of Palestinian homes and explains how they used to be Jewish homes.

Further information:

Interview with Settler David Wilber


Hebron Defence Committee

We visited Hisham Sharabati’s home, coordinator of the Hebron Defence Committee (HDC) and a field worker for the Palestinian human rights organisation Al-Haq. He spent six months in prison for a nonviolent protest. The organisation mainly focuses on documentation. When settlers throw rocks at Palestinian homes. In order to file a complaint, he has to go to the police station in Jaffra, one of the settlements, but no one speaks Arabic and nothing is done. HDC have started, ‘Project shoot Back’ which installs CCT cameras to Palestinian homes to document attacks. Settlers have cut his electricity and water, attacked the people who came to repair it. They have burnt his cars (9 so far) which he has to park outside the check point. They enter his garden and eat the grapes from the vines whilst the police stand and watch. The stories are endless but with the same theme of harassment, intimidation and terror.

He explained how many roads are not accessible to Palestinians and even ambulances are not permitted in some locations. The ambulance took five hours to get through three checkpoints to attend to his wife in labour. This makes life incredibly difficult for people, but that’s the idea. Water collection and containing is a real issue. If someone runs out of water, it has to be carried on foot, through the streets, on a long detour.

He explained how in the early 80’s, the military forced people out of the central market area, once a bustling and thriving area of apartments, shops and stalls and now, Shuhada Street is empty and silent. The UN opposes Israel’s actions here. The law is designated in a racist way in this place. Families are now leaving simply because of the difficult living conditions that have been created. There is a market area with nets overhead to protect the Palestinians from the rubbish being thrown at them from the settlers who occupy the apartments overlooking them. Unfortunately, foul effluence cannot be contained by a net. There are high fences around schools to protect children from stones thrown by settlers

We heard the story of ‘the ladder lady’, how each morning and afternoon, she puts down a homemade ladder from a rooftop of the Old City to let 20-30 children get our of the Old City so that they can go to school. This was because the military had erected gates to prevent them leaving their street. This story is documented by Arthur Gish in his book, Hebron Journal, Stories of Nonviolent Peacemaking.

Further information:

An interesting article

Hebron Journal article

Hebron International Resources Network (HIRN)

It felt an honour to meet Hamed Qawasmeh, the Director of HIRN. Hamed is a friend of my colleague Mike in the UK and I had heard a lot of good things about this man. Hamed had also spotted Owen and I cycling up the Wadi Al Nar in December 2016 (apparently I was walking!). We met at a primary School on Tel Rumeida behind a gate controlled by a guard. Nearby is Cordoba school which is larger and has 152 secondary age students. HIRN, serves the needy, those most adversely affected by the occupation. They build schools and support spaces where children can be educated. We heard that the previous day, a new school, in the South Hebron Hills, built through HIRN, was demolished by Israeli forces, just hours before the children’s first day of school, which makes three schools in the last 10 days. This is only part of the trauma of living under the occupation. This seems a particularly cruel act and very difficult to comprehend the mindset of what motivates a government to do such cruel things.

He explained that life under the occupation in Hebron is incredibly difficult. Israel have not brought trucks in to move people out, but instead make life so difficult that people move away. Many children go to schools set up in houses and funding for HIRN schools comes through charitable donations from the USA. Teachers salaries are covered by the UN and an Australian NGO. Hamid’s fundraising activities have seen him doing bungee jumps and swimming with sharks in America as well as running the Bethlehem marathon and many 10k runs.

Further information:


Cordoba School


Hebron Rehabilitation Committee

Only brief notes for this visit. Hebron is one of the oldest cities in the world, after Jericho. There are some settlements in the middle of the city instead of the outskirts. This is because of the proximity to the Ibrahimi mosque and the Tomb of the Patriarchs. Pioneer, ideological settlers arrived in 1968 and occupied a hotel close to the centre and then they were given a former military base by the Israeli government. Solder is generally support the settlers. Settlers carry heavy arms.

We saw photographs of the bustling Shuhada Street next to completely empty ones and peoples front doors locked shut. Many shops were closed by military order and the rest closed through economic oppression.

The check points and walls deprive people access to their homes.

The Rehabilitation Committee refurbishes and renovates old, hazardous buildings for Palestinians in need of housing. They carry out road works and help with infrastructure. They carry out legal work for Palestinians in the International Court of Justice.

Further information:

Hebron Rehabilitation Committee


Bedouin Village Visits

al-Tuani and Operation Dove

This village is located in the South Hebron Hills and the people here experience house demolitions almost on a weekly basis. The land belongs to the state and has been declared a firing zone. The people of this village are committed to non violent resistance and have some hope as they have been permitted to build a school and now have electricity.

Operation Dove is an Italian peace organisation who have had a permanent presence in the village for four years. In 2004 one of their volunteers and a US volunteer were badly attacked by settlers from the nearby Ma’on settlement. This attracted much media attention. The Israeli government gave the children a military escort to the Palestinian children as they go to school but they don’t always show up and the volunteers continue to accompany the children and carry cameras. The village tries to have a dialogue with the soldiers and recognises them as 18-20 year old human beings. The soldiers have sometimes shared how they don’t want to be there. They have not found it possible to have dialogue with the settlers. There are numerous stories of the villages crops and livestock being destroyed and poisoned. Operation Dove cooperates with Israeli activists who are mostly ex-settlers and have served in the military who now support justice, rather than the state.

We had lunch at this village and bought Zatar, a dry mixture of thyme, sesame seeds and spices.



A village in the South Hebron Hills. We visited the Naqwali family in this ‘unrecognised’ village. This, along with 27 other ‘unrecognised’ villages have lived on this land since Ottoman times. In 2001, Susiya, document by CPT, was completely demolished and their animals killed.
The South Hebron Hills are a desert and water is scarce. The villagers have to pay for water and it is very expensive. According to international law, Israel cannot restrict their access to water. However, Israeli water pipes run through the villages but because they are ‘unrecognised’ they are prevented from accessing it.

Regavim is a settler organisation that has accused the people in Susiya of stealing state land, despite them having documents. They use unlicensed drones to watch the village. The people of Susiya lived on this land, a long time prior to the settlement being built and the settlement is illegal under international law. We heard many stories of the difficulties encountered, multiple demolitions of tents being re-erected following storms in 2014, ongoing demolition orders, water and cars being confiscated. The judge who authorises the demolitions, lives in the settlement and therefore it is impossible for the Palestinians to trust the law. International pressure in the UK, US and Europe has had a positive effect but this pressure must be maintained.

Um al Khair

We camped out overnight at this village which lays in the shadow of a settlement. It was the same stories of multiple home demolitions. This small rural community raise goats and grow thyme. We met an impressive young man called Tariq who had a maturity beyond his young age of 21. Tariq  explained very clearly the issues faced by his community. He shared how his brother was beaten by a settler whilst he was herding his goats. He went too close to the settlers fence and he now has severe brain damage and is unable to function as an adult. His mother was also beaten and her donkey stolen. The village bread oven was also destroyed several times and they now have to buy bread which is a lot more expensive.

Whilst Tariq was talking, his cousin Eid arrived home from Berlin. Eid is an artist and creates sculptures and mini vehicles out of the demolished homes in the area. He has exhibited with Ai Weiwei. What was interesting was that Eid is a friend of my colleague Ed back in the UK. Ed had told me about Eid and how on one of his visits to Palestine, he had collaborated on a mural at a school in the South Hebron Hills. I never thought for a moment that I would actually get to meet Eid!

Further information:

Artist Eid Suleiman



On our way back to Jerusalem, we had lunch at ROOTS, a grassroots, nonviolent organisation that seeks to work in a transformational way through dialogue and humanising the other. We listened to an American Rabbi who now lives in Israel and a Palestinian man. The Rabbi seemed to do the bulk of the talking about how he listens to the other and there seemed to be a certain irony in this. We were warmly welcomed and served a delicious lunch.

Further Information: 




The walls, barriers and check points are there, not for security, but to control and make the lives of the Palestinian people as difficult as possible so that they no longer want to live there.
The apartheid state is visible providing settlers with privilege and protection by the Israeli military whereas the Palestinians are subjected to conscious cruelty, control and victimisation.

Every person and community was different, but certain traits linked them all: hospitality, openness and sumud (steadfast perseverance). Everywhere we went, security and oppression continually curbed freedom and dissent. Being particularly apparent in Hebron the location for the second week,

Sometimes, I felt angry and confused as I tried to make sense of the dehumanising oppressive regime that people are subjected to. There is no sense to be made of this degradation. There is nothing normal about the level of control inflicted upon the Palestinian people.