Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fear and Clouds of Dust

Alena* turned to us and asked, "Will you tell the soldiers to get out and walk with us? I am scared." As my teammate and I try to flag down the jeep to make a special request, the jeep accelerated kicking up rocks and dust. I stood there in the dust cloud and thought to myself, if only it were that easy, if only Alena's request mattered.

The Israeli army escorts the children of A-Tuba and Magayer Al-Abeed to school in At-Tuwani each morning, per the order of the Knesset, the high court in Israel. The order states that the soldiers will walk with the children. The huge majority of the time the soldiers do not walk with the children. More often than walking with the children, the jeep revs the engine to make the kids hurry up.

When Alena asked us to relay her message, I could hear the fear in her voice and I could see it in her face. This isn't routine for her. Walking by the settlement brings up some powerful feelings and emotions for her. This walk illicits enough fear, that she finds some degree of solace in the Israeli military; a foreign military force that occupies her family's land, harasses her brothers as they graze the sheep, and often sides with the very Israeli settlers who have attacked her on the way to school.

The fear of facing sticks, stones, fists, spit, and shouting on your way to school is incomprehensible and unacceptable. I don't think the military escort is a solution to this problem, in fact, it's a poor poor band-aid. But nonetheless, I find it hard to believe that a heartfelt request for a sense of safety from a small child, is met with a cloud of dust.

*Names have been changed