On Apr. 5, I accompanied our neighbor, Afifah, whose real name will not be revealed due to safety concerns, as she tried to talk to the settlers who were protesting outside a house in a Palestinian neighborhood from which the Israeli authorities had evicted the settlers.
A settler refused to speak to her when she requested a conversation. Upon enquiring why, he told her that he did not speak to anti-Semites. Afifah told him that they were both from the same origins. The settler abruptly pronounced that he was referring to me and that Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) was an anti-Semitic organization. Afifah told him that she had known CPT for many years and did not think that its members were anti-Semitic. He replied that he had read the CPT website, that everything they posted was anti-Semitic and that they were Jew-hating Christians.
Afifah asked another settler if she could ask him a few questions about how he felt about the situation of the occupied house. He did not answer but asked her if she would like to sell her house. Afifah replied that she did not own a house. When he asked where she lived, she replied, “On Al Shuhada Street.” The settler said that this was impossible, because Al Shuhada is a Jewish-only street. The settlers then proceeded to laugh amongst themselves and joked that maybe Afifah was Jewish. She told them she was Muslim and lived on Al Shuhada Street but could not enter or leave by her front door.
The settler then asked if she knew any Arabs who would like to sell, because they had a foundation with millions of dollars to buy houses from Arabs. He also claimed they could arrange American or Canadian citizenship for Arabs who sold their houses to settlers. The settler said that many Arabs wanted to sell to them but were worried that if they did they would be killed. The promise of North American citizenship must surely be a lie. It is true, though, that a lot of money used to buy houses illegally in Hebron comes from international donors, particularly from the USA and Canada.
Afifah asked the settlers why they wanted to push the Arabs out of Hebron. The settlers replied that they did not wish to push Arabs out but wanted to make Hebron a Jewish city where the Arabs would be guests. An Israeli police officer came over at this point and started to laugh and joke with the settlers and, except for a look of contempt, all but ignored Afifah and me.
Afifah had the courage and dignity to face her oppressors and seek answers, only at which to be laughed. One woman against all the money, all the guns, and all the power of the Hebron settlers, but she still challenged them. And I am writing these words so you will hear her and so you will understand what they are trying to do.