So here I am in Jerusalem and soon heading off to Hebron in the West Bank. I am now part of the EAPPI which is founded by the WCC and call myself an EA. To many abbreviations? OK, let’s try to fix this. EAPPI stands for Ecumenical Accompanier Program in Palestine and Israel, the WCC is the World Council of Churches and an EA is an Ecumenical Accompanier. This didn’t really help? So read on and I will try to explain what I am going to do here and what is the role of an EA in this conflict.
After having now almost one week training in Jerusalem, I think I am a bit more able to explain you what I am going to do here. As you can see in the picture we got handed out nice vests which make us recognizable as EAs from far (and even better from close by) and bear an incredible amount of pocket space - really useful this. This vests will help us doing our work on the ground in the West Bank which is aimed towards “the end of the occupation”TM through non violent means. This means we will provide protective presence, stay contact to the local community and do advocacy work once we are back in our home countries but as well already while we are here.
“Protective presence?!?”, you might ask. Well I did not hear of this specific term either before I got engaged with the program, but the general concept of it is easy: Things tend to be a bit lesser tense once internationals are around. “Stop!” - “What?!” - “You did it again!” - “What did I again?” - “You used a word I don’t quite understand: internationals.” Oh… Internationals is kind of a summary of all non-Palestinians and non-Israelis which tend to hang around in the West Bank. Most of the are part of NGO’s, UN or activist groups. They are the physical manifestation of the international community on the ground. So protective presence is quite effective because both sides of the conflict have an vital interest that there image internationally stays quite good or even gets improved. So already with our pure presence there is lesser violence from the police, the soldiers and the settlers. “Violence from settlers?” Oh right that is something I will have to write later about. For now accept that they are one of the problems Palestinians face under the occupation. So we are trying to be as much as possible with the local people during their everyday life or in non violent demonstrations against the occupation, visit them in their homes, monitor checkpoints and make lots of notes and photos to provide evidences of violations of human rights, international humanitarian law and committed war crimes.
In a lots of places in the West Bank people like to see us and they are happy that there is actually somebody who cares about them and tries to spread their stories in the world. This really made me think, how desperate one has to be that you get the feeling that nobody in the world cares about you and your story. So in this blog I try to make some of this stories told and heard. The stories which will not make it into this blog will be written down anyway in weekly and monthly logs which will be distributed to many key organizations, politicians and former EAs to keep them updated about the developments here. We as EAs are the eyes and the ears of the international community on the ground in the occupied Palestine territory.