Holy Land reflection: drinking coffee for peace

 With a laptop, knitting, and a crossword puzzle, Kathy Kern and I stepped into the coffee shop. We ordered and sat down to pass the time like customers in coffee shops around the world -- working, chatting, and drinking. However, unlike coffee shops in my hometown, we observed a patrol of soldiers pass by. That's because we were drinking coffee in Mohammad's recently opened coffee shop in a square in Hebron, dominated by an illegal Israeli settlement and an Israeli military checkpoint. The shop, one of the few open in the nearly deserted square, is a symbol of non-violent resistance to the Israeli occupation. Mohammad, who runs the shop, brought us sweet, thick Arabic coffee and sat with us, sharing about his life. He must walk three kilometers each way to get to work but believes strongly in this act of resistance. "I am now so happy," Mohammad said. He stayed at home for nine years because of injuries interrogators inflicted in prison. "I believe in the state of Palestine. It will happen," he told us confidently. A few days after the team published Sean O'Neill's reflection on the coffee shop near the Bab il-Baledeyya and Beit Romano checkpoint, the soldiers came to the coffee shop looking for the owner mentioned in the reflection, Mohammad--a pseudonym. The next day they came again. When the man in the shop told them that Mohammad was not there, they asked for Sean. After learning he was not there either and searching the shop, the soldiers left. Kathy and I joked about how difficult it was to have to sit in a coffee shop as part of our work. Yet we both know that here in Palestine, even opening a Palestinian shop can seem dangerous enough to the Israeli army to trigger and investigation. We know that while the dusty square with the trickle of foot traffic in and out of the souq may look quiet, that calm can change in a moment at the whim of the ever-present soldiers. Christian Peacemaker Teams is an ecumenical initiative to support violence reduction efforts around the world. To learn more about CPT's peacemaking work, please visit: www.cpt.org.