Monday, June 20, 2005

"God Smiles Everytime"

Martin Luther King, Jr. once declared "One has a moral responsiblity to disobey unjust laws." When I visited Bethlehem as a part of a Christian Peacemaker Team delegation, I was privileged to met with a wonderful man named Zoghbi Zoghbi, a Palestinian Christian who lives out Dr. King's words. Like most Palestinians, Zoghbi doesn't have the permit necessary to go to Jerusalem, or even venture far from the city he lives in. Zoghbi used to attend the Jerusalem Church of the Redeemer, and his wife sat on their board. It's been eight years since Zoghbi has been allowed legally into Jerusalem, which is only 5 miles from where he lives in Bethlehem. Last year, however, Zoghbi successfully sneaked into Jersualem to attend church on Palm Sunday. If he had been discovered in Jerusalem without a permit, he could have been arrested and sent to jail. But Zoghbi told us "God always smiles when I break an unjust law."

While I have been in the West Bank, I have been so humbled by the amazing number of Palestinians who are choosing peace and nonviolently resisting the Israeli military occupation. Zoghbi wasn't the only Palestinian who tried to go to Jersualem on Palm Sunday. I met with an organization called the Holy Land trust organized which a march to Jerusalem, complete with donkeys and palm branches. They walked towards the checkpoint between Bethlehem and Jerusalem and peacefully confronted the military. In the front of the crowd, they joined arms and simply pushed through the line of soldiers. Sami Awad, nephew of Palestinian nonviolent organizer Mubarak Awad, told me that the soldiers were completely confused and they were able to push through another time. It was a victory for nonviolence, for both Palestine and Israel.

Palestinian nonviolent resistance is vibrant and strong. Here in the West Bank, I have attending many demonstrations and other attempts to resist the occupation. Though we in the United States may not be aware of it, Palestine has a long and powerful history of struggling for freedom without violence and the tradition is in no danger of dieing out.

Almost everyday that I live in Palestine, I break unjust Israeli laws. I've entered closed military zones. I've photographed soldiers. I've broken curfew orders. And I believe that, like Zoghbi said, God smiles every time.

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