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Violating Sanctions

An American Woman’s Listening Tour Through the Axis of Evil

Westerners in the West Bank

The Author By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | March 21st, 2007 | Comments No Comments

It’s 2:00 am and I’m sitting in the bathroom of my bedroom at the Jerusalem hostel that I share with 5 other women. Since I left Los Angeles one week ago today, I’ve not slept more than 5 hours at a time. (I will be able to post this tomorrow evening at “Mike’s Internet Café.”)

Tonight, our Christian Peacemaker Teams ( delegation convened for our first dinner and meeting. We’re a varied group: The youngest is Niki, 23, a bright, funny woman from Canada who lives in Ireland with her husband. The oldest is Rosemarie, 74, a Maryknoll sister who lived in Tanzania tending to AIDS patients. Karen, 45, from Texas, is a postulate in the Franciscan order who has spent a great deal of time in Israel. She has a PhD in archaeology, and already we have enlisted her to tour us through some of the sites.

From Germany, Christopher, 37, with an uncanny culinary knack for deciphering spices, Debbie, 52, a lawyer from Chicago who recently sold everything to prepare for a new, unclear phase of her life, Warren, 24, who in the last 10 days accepted a new job with a local Chamber of Commerce and moved his life to Oklahoma, and Delycia, 66, a retired teacher from New Hampshire, round out the group.

Our leader for the next 2 weeks is Sarah MacDonald, 34, an earnest, confident theology student, who had to rearrange her college finals to accommodate facilitating this group. She has developed a broad and invigorating itinerary for us that includes meetings with Israeli soldiers who are now working for peace, Jewish and Arabic parents of children who have been killed in the conflict, Israeli settlers and Palestinian peace activists.

I feel confident in her hands – and in the hands of the other CPT organizers here: Abigail and Art, both volunteers who have made a greater commitment to support peace efforts. For weeks, we were e-mailed reports from delegations that preceded us, so we can better understand the context of our activities.

We leave for Hebron on Friday, where we will stay in the Christian Peacemaker Teams’ apartment, supporting their efforts to help Palestinians. Some of us will spend a night with Palestinian families in their homes, and we will all overnight at a refugee camp.

In the meantime, we are in the Arab Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, a labyrinth of cobblestoned passageways flanked by vendors and peppered with beautiful, hijab-garbed women bustling through their day.

We will live communally, working in teams to prepare meals, to keep a written record of our activities, and to support Sarah’s logistic efforts. I am honored to be part of group with such varied and experienced delegates, and hope they feel the same about me – especially after they are exposed to the dinner I am scheduled to prepare for them tonight!

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