Joy Ellison is an American activist with Christian Peacemaker Teams, an organization that supports Palestinian nonviolent resistance. She lives in al-Tuwani, a small village in the South Hebron Hills that is nonviolently resisting settlement expansion and violence. She writes about her experiences on her blog, "I Saw it in Palestine."
|A Palestinian shepherd watches over his sheep in the West Bank town of Beit Sahour near Bethlehem, August 2008. (Luay Sababa/MaanImages)|
"I had a dream last night," Sami (not his real name) told my teammates and me while we sat munching sliced tomatoes and olives one hot afternoon. Sami told us that in his dream he had climbed to the top of one of the pine trees at the edge of Havot Ma'on, an illegal Israeli settlement outpost. Below him, Sami could see Israeli settlers stealing the fodder that he uses to feed his sheep.
"Come down here," one of the settlers called up to Sami. "No, no," he said. "I'll up stay here." But the settler reached up into the tree and pulled Sami down to the ground. "They tried to kill me," he explained. He wrapped his hands around his throat to show how the settlers in his dream had choked him. "And then I woke up."
Sami says that his children often have nightmares like the one he described. They used to have even more, he told us, but now his village is more organized and more successful in nonviolently resisting the attacks of Israeli settlers. Still, to get to school in al-Tuwani Sami's children must walk between an Israeli settlement and its outpost, along a road where adult settlers have attacked them with chains and stones. Because the violence against the children has attracted media attention, they are now escorted by the Israeli military. Seeing Sami's children greet me with smiles and laughter is a delight, but also it feels strange, like a dream.