Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Quawayiin! Standing with the Women of the Hebron Islamic Charities Girls School

Last night I attending what can only be described as a nonviolent resistance slumber party. Facing the closure of their schools and orphanages, the students and teachers of Hebron's Islamic Charities invited us to stay with them as they waited for the Israeli army to invade their school and home.

Declaring that the schools are fair game in its only going war on Hamas, the Israeli army has decided to shut them down and confiscate their property. On 25 February 2008, the Israeli army raided all of the buildings and institutions funded by Islamic Charities and gave orphanages and boarding schools until 1 April to evacuate students. On 6 March 2008, the Israeli army again stormed storage buildings of Islamic Charities, confiscating food, children's clothing, and kitchen appliances used to prepare meals for the orphans. These centers house, feed and educate 6000 children in Hebron. Juts two nights ago, soldiers entered the girls school again in a late-night action designed to terrify and harass them.

Last night, the girls, their mothers, and their teachers were not about to be cowed. We stood with them outside in the cold and rain until midnight. The girls shouted slogans demanding that their school be left alone. They were a beautiful and formidable sight. While I stood freezing and exhausted, they were on fire, ready to resist if Israeli soldiers came.

Around midnight, they heard a rumor that their school, along with other properties affiliated with Islamic Charities, would be given 3 more days before soldiers would come to take it. In the morning, the rumors were verified by the high court - the school now has one more week before a final decision is handed down.

The night taught me three things. One, I'm still not much for slumber parties. Two, Israel and the United States' efforts to fight Hamas truly knows no boundaries. Anything and anyone, from children in Gaza to schools in Hebron, are acceptable collateral damage. Thirdly, I've seen that like the people of Tuwani, the girls of the Islamic Charities School are determined to resist.

5 comments:

sherri munnerlyn said...

Hi,

I have been trying to follow this story, and I thought there was going to be a hearing. Have the orphanages and schools actually been closed and, if so, what has happened to the children? There does not seem to be much news coverage about this. This is an awful thing, when there is intentional harm done to children, like this. Do you know what is happening? Thanks, Sherri

joy_in_palestine said...

Hi there,

I'm not sure exactly what's happened with them. I hope that I can figure it out and then post some more information. It's really horrifying.

sherri munnerlyn said...

Hi,

I follow what is happening in the OPT and the newsletters from the CPT site. I have come to really care about happens to the Palestinians, and your stories of your experiences there are such an awesome demonstration of the incredible power of nonviolent resistance. The people are amazing.

The specific problem I am having is that I talk to others on a discussion forum, beliefnet, a Middle East forum, and I always try to provide the Palestinian viewpoint. It is incredible how much hate and intolerance there is, that I confront. And for some reason, I am having a major problem getting people to believe this story, and the difficulty getting information about it does not help. This is the link to the forum board, if you would like to join the discussion. http://community.beliefnet.com/forums/showthread.php?p=444095#post444095

I also want to share with you a moving story that appears in the book Tortured For Christ, that I shared with people who criticized Carter for placing a wreath on Arafat's grave.

Here is the story of another man who left flowers on a grave. His name was Richard Wurmbrand. He testified before Congress in 1966 about persecution of Christians in Communist Romania. He stripped to the waist to show the scars of eighteen deep torture wounds covering his torso. He endured 14 years of Communist imprisonment and torture in his homeland of Romania. He was imprisoned for witnessing for Christ. and the last thing he did before leaving Romania was place flowers on the grave of the man who sent him to prison.

In his book Tortured For Christ, in Chapter 1, Wurmbrand describes how he became a Christian. He was orphaned at an early age and was an atheist, but feeling sad that a God of love did not exist. One day, he walked into a Catholic Church, saw the people praying and decided to listen to them and repeat their prayers and see if anything would happen. He tried to pray, that if a God existed, he would reveal himself to him.

During this same time period, an old carpenter in a village high up in the mountains of Romania, prayed this prayer: "My God, I have served you on earth and I wish to have my reward on earth as well as in heaven. And my reward should be that I should not die before I bring a Jew to Christ, because Jesus was from the Jewish people. But I am poor, old, and sick. I cannot go around and seek a Jew. In my village there are none. Bring a Jew into my village and I will do my best to bring him to Christ.." Wurmbrand found himself drawn to that village and the carpenter saw him as the answer to his prayer, gave him a Bible, prayed for his conversion. Wurmbrand says: "The Bible he gave me was written not so much in words, but in flames of love fired by his prayers. I could barely read it. I could only weep over it, comparing my bad life with the life of Jesus; my impurity with his righteousness; my Hatred with His love-and He accepted me as one of His own."

Wurbrand's wife was converted and a new Lutheran congregation arose in Romania. Then came the Nazis, which was in the form of a dictatorship that persecuted Protestants and Jews. The Communists came to power in 1944. Then began a nightmare that made suffering under the Nazis seem easy. The Church had to go underground, to witness to Russian soldiers and the Romanian people.

For his work in the underground church, he endured 14 years of Communist imprisonment and torture. Few names are better known in Romania. In the 30th Anniversary Edition of his book Tortured For Christ, it is noted that the book has been translated into 65 languages and millons of copies distributed.

Wurmbrand eventually left Romania, after 2 Christian organizations paid the Communist government a ransom of $10,000 for him. He died in Glendale, California, a few years ago.

He describes the last thing he did before he left Romania on page 52:

"My last deed before leaving was to go to the grave of the colonel who had given the order for my arrest and who had ordered my years of torture. I placed a flower on his grave. By doing this I dedicated myself to bringing the joys of Christ that I have to the Communists who are so empty spiritually.

I hate the Communist system but I love the men. I hate the sin but I love the sinner. I hate the Communists with all of my heart. Communists can kill Christians but they cannot kill their love toward even those who killed them. I have not the slightest bitterness or resentment against the Communists or my torturers."

Sherri

Sherri Munnerlyn said...

Hi,

I just read a new report about the orphanages in Hebron and in response to that I sent the following EMAIL to the White House: President Bush,

Saturday morning, in Hebron, Israeli forces stormed the sewing factory of the Islamic Charitable Society. The IDF issued a mandate in the occupied southern West Bank city that employees must evacuate within two days, that ownership will be overtaken and the Israelis will close the factory. This is despite the fact that Israeli courts ordered the IDF to present evidence that the charity had ties to Hamas, IDF has not complied, and courts have not yet addressed the issue,

We see that the IDF does not abide by Israeli courts, as well as international courts (their decision on the illegal separation barrier, the Wall) and the UN (UN Charter prohibits acquisition of land by war and Resolutions Order Israel to withdraw from Occupied Territories). They do not abide by the UN Charter and human rights treaties, to include the Fourth Geneva Convention (committing extensive ongoing war crimes). They terrorize and steal and kidnap and murder with impunity, with US money and the blessings of many purported US Christians. There is no justice for Palestinians in Occupied Palestine.

Workers report IDF also stormed the house of the operator, which is also an orphanage. Israeli authorities are still threatening to confiscate the orphanage and close it as of 4/28/08, for three years.

IDF threatened personnel and workers that if they maintain a presence after this date, they would be arrested for five years.

Will they arrest the children , the orphans, for 5 years as well?

Will they throw them on the street?

Will they murder them? What are a few hundred more children to add to the over 800 children they have murdered since 9/2000, each child you can read about on the website of Israeli Human Rights Organization, Btselem? http://www.btselem.org/English

Will the American CPT members sleepover Sunday night, again? They were planning to. Will the IDF murder them, too, like they killed American Rachel Corrie, with a Caterpillar bulldozer as she tried to save the home of a Palestinian that was being destroyed by Israel?

Are there any limits on how low the Israeli government will sink, how despicable they can act?

There already have been numerous raids on the charity, without a showing the charity has done absolutely anything illegal. The IDF forces stormed the orphanage and sewing factory weeks ago, detained workers and confiscated equipment. The same situation occurred in the charitable bakery owned by the ICM.

The sewing factory opened in 1985 and supplies clothing for more than 4,000 orphans, while other pieces are sold in the markets and this brings in needed revenue for the charities to operate.

The Israelis have been widely condemned for such a blatant attack on the Palestinian people. There have been student demonstrations. There have been statements by political parties. “This is considered a crime against property, facilities, and charities, yet the international community has remained silent,” the People’s Committee stated.

A spokesperson for Former US President Jimmy Carter , who has been called a bigot by Israeli officials over the past few days, was present at a Press Conference for the Charity on Thursday.

The campaign to save the orphans and charitable institutions has appealed to human rights and humanitarian organizations for assistance.

Is there any hope the orphans can still be saved? I pray for justice for them, I cry out to God for justice for them.

Do you care about helpless, defenseless children in Hebron, Mr President? Do you care?

Please help these children. I implore you, if there is anything human inside your heart, if there is any love in your heart, please show it now for these children.


http://english.pnn.ps/index.php?opti...k=view&id=2695


Sincerely,

Sherri L Munnerlyn

Sherri Munnerlyn said...

Hi,

I just read this story about another raid at the Orphanage and another incident near Hebron. I cannot understand this hate, directed at children. And they carry out a raid at 1 AM. I remind myself we only become like them if we give in to hate. Our strength lies in Christ and refusing to hate and standing up against injustice the way Jesus calls us to do. And keeping love alive. And thanking God for another day of safety for the children and everyone there.

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Full Story Israeli Army raids Hebron Orphanage home to 110 girls
Wednesday April 30, 2008 16:14 by Pennie Quinton - 1 of International Middle East Media Center - IMEMC Editorial Group

At 1.00 in the morning on the 30th of April, the Israeli Army raids orphanage in Hebron, home to 110 girls, seizing all equipment from community sewing workshop.

Hill near Hebron



The Hebron Orphanage for girls is run by the Charitable Islamic Society,(I.C.S) and houses 110 children.

The ICS is accused by Israel of funding the Hamas movement under the table, and in recent years, the ICS has been raided several times by the Israeli Army who seized computers and paper work from their offices. Now the Israeli government wants to take property owned by the ICS and has issued a court order to this effect.

Bassim the director of the Hebron orphanage for girls says that the Israeli officials came and inspected a sewing work shop in the basement, a project set up to give local women whose husbands are in gaol a means of earning a living.The official forbade any one from working in the room he photographed and made an inventory of all sewing machines and related equipment in the basement.He forbade Bassim from moving the workshop elsewhere threatening him with a prison sentence of five years were he to do so, he then said that the army would come and remove the equipment after the 26th of April 2008.

The Christian Peace Maker teams were concerned about the effects of such a raid on the children so began to sleep over night in the orphanage.At one in the morning on the 30th of April the army drove three trucks into the playground of the orphanage, one equipped with a winch for hauling heavy equipment.They sawed up the metal table for cutting fabric with an angle grinder, and seized everything from the workshop including the stock of clothes sewn by the women.They swept the floor and left taking everything leaving the room utterly void.The Christian Peace Maker Teams tried to speak with the soldier s about their actions, but they refused to engage and completely ignored them.

Sherri