On a Monday morning in October I sit down in the atrium of Casa Nova guest house with Mike. The guest house is in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem, not too far from New Gate, and nestled within the labyrinth of stones streets that make up the Old City. The atrium is draped in green and flowering plants, sandy-grey stones construct the walls and hug the windows, which are large and decorative on two ends with arches and wrought iron and shuttered on the opposing walls, concealing guest room interiors. The space is filled with soft, awakening light courtesy of the high, windowed ceiling, which we sit beneath at one of the tables resting on the stone floor.
I met Mike while he was working at the front desk one day. It did not take long before I realized the richness of his story and he welcomed sharing it with an audience beyond just me. We dive in now.
I ask him what it is like to be a Palestinian living in Israel.
He gave me a vivid picture of his experiences of checkpoints.
As we speak I noticed every once and a while he turns his head up and to the side, adjusting his neck and resetting his shoulders. I come to learn it is his body's response to decades of agitation and pain following the physical abuse he experienced while imprisoned in his youth.
He shares about the process of being held and sentenced.
If you spend enough time around Palestinians you will notice the word sumud, "steadfastness" in Arabic, comes up quite frequently in conversation. To a Palestinian, sumud is no mere action, but woven into the very fiber of their being, part of their identity. It is sumud that enables Palestinians to remain in the land despite their treatment and, what appear to be, increasingly deteriorating conditions. I ask Mike, what fuels sumud in him?
As for America, he shares his opinion and, by my request, how Americans might be able to respond most helpfully to the situation.
Our conversation concludes candidly, but bears a faint glimmer of hope. Resilient light that refuses to be consumed.
Action: Learn more
No Way To Treat A Child Campaign: http://nwttac.dci-palestine.org
Abuse and torture during interrogation: www.btselem.org/topic/torture
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace.
- Excerpt from a prayer of Reinhold Niebuhr, theologian, ethicist and commentator on public and political affairs.
Interested in partnering with the work of "Through The Checkpoint"? Wonderful! You can do so here: https://creativevisions.networkforgood.com/projects/16418-creative-visions-fiscal-sponsorship-through-the-checkpoint