I want to share with you a story of life under Occupation that I witnessed myself. Nabi Saleh is a small village in the West Bank of about 500 people.
In December 2009 an illegal Jewish-only settlement called Halamish appropriated a fresh water spring that had previously belonged to the village of Nabi Saleh. This spring had been the only natural source of water for the residents of Nabi Saleh, but since the settlement appropriated it, Palestinians have no longer been allowed to approach the spring. If they try, soldiers are called in to disperse them using tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber bullets. In response, the village began weekly non-violent demonstrations in protest to the settlement's appropriation of the fresh water spring. They have been protesting every Friday since December 2009.
Natalia and a Palestinian protestor in Nabi Saleh. In the background soldiers stand between protestors and the fresh water spring.
Bassem Tamimi is one of the leaders of these weekly peaceful demonstrations. As a peace activist, Tamimi has been arrested by the Israeli army 11 times though he has never been convicted of an offence. In 1993 during an interrogation, and as a result of the torture he underwent, Tamimi collapsed and had to be evacuated to a hospital, where he laid unconscious for seven days. A little over a year ago, on March 24, 2011, Israeli soldiers raided the Tamimi home and arrested Bassem Tamimi. He has been charged with "organizing unpermitted processions" and is currently detained. Tamimi was recently named a prisoner of conscious by Amnesty International.
Meanwhile, the weekly demonstrations continue. Last July I witnessed and participated in several of these weekly demonstrations, alongside Palestinians, Israelis, and other internationals inspired by this non-violent struggle for access to water, a basic human right. When I returned to my home state of Maryland I began asking, "What is my church doing about this injustice?" I was reminded of how Moses behaved when he witnessed a similar injustice:
"…but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well. Now a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father's flock. Some shepherds came along and drove them away, but Moses got up and came to their rescue and watered their flock." (Exodus 2: 15-17)
Moses got up and acted. When I learned about United Methodist Kairos Response I immediately became involved because I believe we must work to make sure that our church cuts its ties with companies that profit from an unjust occupation. It's time for our church to act in accordance with its values. I hope you will join us in working towards a just peace: www.kairosresponse.org.
Natalia Cuadra-Saez, is a member of United Methodist Kairos Response, a movement in the UMC that seeks to align the church's investments with its resolutions opposing the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. After graduating from the University of Maryland in May 2011, Natalia spent 5 weeks traveling around Israel and Palestine. She will be attending General Conference on a Young Adult Scholarship from MFSA.