On traveling to Palestine with Christian Peacemaker Team July 2010 - Dispatches sent more or less daily from Palestine
21/7/10 - 2/8/10 103 °F
Marianne going to Palestine with a Christian group?! Indeed, imagine my own surprise when I found that Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) was the group I wanted to travel with.
After checking with Barbara Lubin (Middle East Children’s Alliance) only to find they weren’t going this year nor was the Rachel Corrie Foundation, and knowing I can’t run fast enough to go with International Solidarity Movement (ISM), the search was on.
There are a number of groups that take delegations to Palestine, including American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Interfaith Peacebuilders, Global Exchange, Code Pink, and a good Palestine-based tour company Alternative Tourism, but CPT was the only one other than MECA that did more than witness. Witnessing is extremely important but I felt that because the situation was so dire, I wanted to do more. And there was CPT.
I checked their website, watched You Tube videos of them at work. What a group of people! Their mission is faith based, Mennonite and Quaker, standing witness, doing school and farmer accompaniment to provide some measure of protection against attacking settlers, intervention in military invasions of homes.
There is no faith litmus test, and after checking to see if they would accept an atheist, I started preparing.
They ensure that you’re well prepared and will arrange your flight if you want them to. You need to raise about $3,000 either paying it yourself, or better, raising it in your community (an educational opportunity, and it provides ownership of the trip).
I arranged my own flight, and after deactivating my Facebook account and taking down my Palestine Papers at http://www.sonomacountyfreepress.com/palestine/palesndx.html, I headed to Jerusalem via Tel Aviv airport a day ahead of the delegation, thinking I might have some difficulty getting in. I wanted to be sure I was in when the rest of the group arrived, for I thought I might have trouble at the airport.
As it turned out, I sailed through with no questions other than “why are you here” – “Tourist”. By the time I landed in Tel Aviv, I had serious eyebrows, bright lipstick and pink cheeks, with necklaces and a bracelet – I wanted to look like somebody’s mother-in-law from Kansas and was apparently very successful. They had no idea I was just a small fish in a big pond – they had no interest in even knowing if I was a fish! They only looked at my passport long enough to determine that there was sufficient resemblance.