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SPRING, 1998: Volume 3 Issue 1

"Lives in Jeopardy: "Hebron Team Threatened"

Editor's note: This article was in the Christian Peacemaker Teams' newsletter, Signs of the Times, Winter 1998; Vol. VIII, No. 1. It demonstrates in brief the situations that peace teams members may face, and an excellent response to them. CPT's Hebron team have gone on record as saying that if anything should happen to them, they pray that no further revenge be enacted. See Volunteer Opportunities for contact information. To join CPTNET, CPT's e-mail network, fill out the form found at http://www.prairienet.org/cpt/

On Sunday, January 18, a voice on the Christian Peacemaker Teams' telephone answering machine said, "Hi. This is Jewish Self Defense calling from Israel." The message accused CPT-Hebron team members Cliff Kindy, Pierre Shantz and Sara Reschly of smuggling explosives to Hamas, a fundamentalist Muslim group whose military wing has claimed responsibility for numerous suicide bombings in Israel. The voice went on to say, "As humanitarian effort to save their lives, we ask you to evacuate them from Israel before Wednesday. After Wednesday their lives will be in jeopardy. This is a warning. This is a last warning. Bye."

That same evening, CPT-Hebron veteran Kathleen Kern retrieved an e-mail message entitled "Swift Punishment" which contained a similar threat. The heading of the message read KACH INTERNATIONAL WARNING. Kach, a former Israeli political party created by the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, has been classified by both the United States and Israeli governments as a terrorist organization. In all, CPT and concerned friends receivedsix threatening or harassing e-mail messages and two menacing phone calls during the week of January 19. While CPTers have received numerous death threats in the past, specific names and dates have never before been identified.

At the advice of Palestinian and Israeli colleagues, team members held a press conference in Hebron on Tuesday, January 20. They responded to the accusations contained in the threats saying, "The only explosive force we believe in is the power of love-stronger than hatred, fear, or the enmities they create."

Team members reported that the series of threats "has interrupted our regular work. We're scared. But we refuse to let this fear stop our witness against injustice and domination. We also recognize that the fear we feel is only a taste of the fear that Palestinians live with every day under Israeli occupation-fear that soldiers might beat them, fear that bulldozers might arrive at their door to knock down their family home. It is also the fear some Israelis have when they walk through Mahanea Yehuda mall in West Jerusalem, site of the most recent suicide bombing. We want to thank everyone-North Americans, Israelis, and Palestinians-for the outpouring of prayer and messages of support."

Reports and interviews with the team were published in both Israeli and Arab newspapers, and a Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) story was aired across Canada. Palestinians and Israelis alike offered to accompany team members. The Wednesday, January 21, deadline passed without incident.

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