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First-Hand Reports

Those Who are Defeated by Violence Will Become Obsessed by It

by Maia Williams
Christian Peacemaker Team, Hebron
Azariyya, West Bank
March 30, 2004

For more than half of each week, I live in Azariyya, a West Bank town a couple of miles outside of Jerusalem. I leave from Azariyya to Jerusalem by walking up a steep path, passing taxis and vans constipating the road. Then I arrive at the slabs of rock, standing vertically, one next to the other, and stare at the soldiers dressed in green cloth and jaunty hats posturing with their guns, joking with one another, sitting in their jeeps to avoid the hot noon day sun, and yelling at the Palestinian taxi drivers as the taxi drivers yell at the passersby to fill their vehicles. This is the place where the wall touches me and I touch the wall.

I know why people graffiti walls. It is a small dangerous way to enter the public discourse. It reminds all who see the wall that we do not have to respect an apartheid monument. The graffiti, in Arabic and English words and in pictures on the Azariyya wall, reminds me to hold my head a little higher as I stand in the crowd of Palestinians waiting for the Israeli soldier to evaluate our identification cards. I am surrounded by young women with babies in their arms, old ladies with bags of vegetables balanced on their heads, and men anxiously tapping the ashes of cigarettes dangling in their hands. I finger the U.S. passport between my fingers.

On the same concrete slab, there is a drawing of a gun and a drawing of a peace symbol. There are stenciled spray paintings of martyrs and an intricate painting of a window of a nature scene. To me, the wall is an inconvenience. To me, it is an ugly piece of governmental propaganda which Palestinians have transformed into a powerful piece of revolutionary art.

Tonight, a three year old boy, a nephew of the woman with whom I live in Azariyya, asked me if I would take him to Jerusalem, so he could buy a C.D. He warned me he has West Bank identification so the journey would be difficult. I told him I would hide him in my backpack and the soldiers would not see him. He said he would take a gun. No, I told him, we don’t need a gun. He replied that I didn’t need a gun because I was a girl. His mother cares for her family, one arm bandaged and limp. She broke her arm trying to climb the wall a couple of months ago.

I am just a visitor in this family and in this country. I cannot hide a little boy in my U.S. passport so that he will be safe. He is not obsessed with his West Bank identification, but with the soldiers’ guns. As winter turns to spring, I am beginning to share in his obsession. I am beginning to paint guns on paper.

I see that walls build homes and build prisons. Paper can decree freedom and slavery.

When I give the soldier my passport, he flips through the grey pages and asks where I am from. I wish I had the courage to say, “from here”. I am from this place, any place, every place where human beings know that to struggle to be free is the definition of freedom. I am from the place where the inner struggle for freedom balances the outer struggle for freedom. I am from the place where they creep into the night with spray paint and felt markers to remind all of us to stand, eye to eye to a soldier, in the noon day sun, with our heads held tall.

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Videos & Multimedia

Amnesty International Video:
Dina Goor, Yesh Din

3/20/2004 demonstration in Karbatha, Palestine – activists shot

Watch International Court of Justice’s Hearings on Barrier

UK Guardian Interactive Graphic on Wall

View footage from 2/6/2004 demonstration at Georgetown University, USA

View footage from 12/26/2003 demonstration in Mas’ha, West Bank—Israeli activist, Gil Ne’amati, is shot

View footage from 11/9/2003 demonstration in Ramallah, West Bank

View footage from 11/9/2003 demonstration in Zbuba, West Bank

MORE footage from 11/9/2003 demonstration in Zbuba, West Bank

News Without Borders 8/24/2003 Presentation on Israel’s Wall

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More Articles on the Wall

The Death of Bassem Abu Rahme

Witness for the Defenseless

American priest and nun join Palestinian non-violent resistance in Gaza

Nonviolent Palestinian Resistance

The Palestinian Resistance: Its Legitimate Right and the Moral Duty

More Articles on Resistance

Additional Resources

Booklet – The Wall Must Fall

Documentary – The Israeli Wall in Palestinian Lands


International Court of Justice Ruling

Electronic Intifada on the Wall

Palestine Monitor on the Wall


Stop the Wall

Americans for Middle East Understanding

End the Occupation Coalition

Al Awda: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition

International Solidarity Movement

Secular Peace Groups

American Muslims for Palestine

A Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT)

Sabeel – Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center

Friends of Sabeel, North America

More Religious Peace Groups

International Humanitarian Groups Condemn the Barrier

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

Amnesty International

Human Rights Watch

World Council of Churches


International Humanitarian Law Research Initiative

Oxford Public Interest Lawyers

The National Lawyers Guild

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