Reprinted from Christian Peacemaker Teams with permission
22 January 2008
When I saw Heba* talking to the Ma'on settlement guard, I went running
towards her with my video camera poised. In at-Tuwani, extremist
Israeli settlers have attacked Palestinian children walking to school,
as well as Palestinian adults working on their own land. But as I
hurried towards Heba, I realized this 7-year-old was about to teach me
a lesson in nonviolent resistance.
Her hands clasped behind her back, Heba looked up into the face of the
settlement guard. With her usual composure, she spoke to him. This
particular settler is notorious for harassing Palestinians; I've seen
adult Palestinians take off running when he approached. But he was
looking down at Heba and listening. Before I could reach where she
stood, Heba turned and calmly walked away.
"What did you say to him, Heba?" I asked. A small, shy girl, Heba
didn't reply at first. But soon my teammates coxed an answer from her.
"I asked him why he couldn't bring back our donkey."
Recently, Israeli settlers beat a Palestinian man from the village of
Tuba and stole his donkey. (See Release: Large Israeli-Palestinian
Solidarity Walk to Tuba) Palestinians living in the South Hebron hills
have had their livestock stolen before. From experience, they know
the Israeli police are unlikely to do anything to help them recover
their property or prosecute settlers who attack them. Perhaps the
entreaties of a little girl could succeed where the Israeli police fail.
About a half an hour before I watched Heba make her case to an armed
settler, Israeli soldiers drove up to where Palestinians where were
plowing. Palestinians asked CPT to film as they insisted on their
right to work their land. Neighbors came to see what was happening.
Soon they were joined by a crowd of children. Heba's mother passed
out tiny cups of Arabic coffee. As soon as the settlement guard
arrived, Heba's grandmother, the oldest woman in Tuwani, walked up to
him. She greeted him without a trace of fear and asked him where the
Armed with nothing but their rights as human beings, the people of
at-Tuwani stood on their land and demanded their due expertly. The
farmers convinced the soldiers to allow them to work and the
settlement guard assured Heba and her grandmother that he would do his
best to bring back the donkey. I don't have much hope that the donkey
will be returned, but I'm sure that Heba will grow up knowing how to
resist injustice. And that gives me hope for the villages of the South
*Not her real name.