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The book, Letters from Apartheid Street: a Christian Peacemaker in Occupied Palestine, by Michael McRay, is a detailed account of experiences as part of the Christian Peacemaker Team over a period of three months in the region of Hebron within the West Bank. From the diary account of McRay, there are many provocative, fascinating, and mind-boggling revelations on the violent conflict between the Israeli military/police and the Palestinians. The book is written in a first-person narrative format about the challenging life in the conflict-filled region of the West Bank. Thus, this reflective treatise attempts to present a reaction and analysis of the book by Michael McRay.
From reading the book, Letters from Apartheid Street: a Christian Peacemaker in Occupied Palestine, I was fascinated by the author’s keenness to details in describing the psychological and the one-on-one journey in the direct confrontation with the Israeli military who occupied the West Bank. At the same time, the author seems to be struggling with his deep compassion for the miserable plights of the frustrated Palestinians.
I was moved by the struggles of McRay because of the underlying lessons each struggle carried, from a personal perspective as a Christian and the ideals of human nature. The book identifies social change as defining democracy and the practical aspects of the same. According to the author, the democratization of a political system reveals the level of maturity of a nation. The timid souls are identified by the author as the very people who believe in the status quo and resistance to change at all levels as seen in the actions of the Israeli military and the police.
Across the book, the author’s reflection is on several persuasions such as hopelessness, boldness, and open revulsion. In the West Bank occupation, the author presents the Israeli forces and the symbol of injustice and continuous oppression of the Palestinians. Apart from just being the tyrants, the Israeli forces are the unlawful inhabitants of the land that does not belong to them. This feeling ignites deep hatred and anger within the author.
For instance, the author notes, “the stories I write involving [Israeli] soldiers sometimes portray them as almost inhuman. Witnessing the reality here, I often have difficulty seeing the soldiers as normal human beings… I struggle to hide my looks of condemnation when I pass by the soldiers” (McRay 25). As a result, McRay struggles with his previous view of ‘single story’ supporting the activities of Israel in the West Bank and actually tries to contact the Israeli soldiers in a process he called ‘rehumanization’ (McRay26). Out of frustrations, McRay notes, “the danger of the single story, when repeated often, convinces the audience that the description within the story is the whole truth” (McRay 27).
In the context of heroism, the author rejects his previously held view of the Israeli soldiers as heroes in the conflict between Israel and Palestine within the West Bank occupation. The author realized that the Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) was a mere spectator in the conflict resolution instead of doing more to protect and defend what is right. The author is deeply worried by the little activities that the CPT was able to perform as part of the role of impacting the lives of the Palestinians. McRay notes, “the truth is I am tired… Chris says feeling burnt out after a month is normal. I do hope so because, otherwise, I am not sure I am cut out for this type of peace work. I have not learned how to sustain it” (McRay 40).
Sociological Imagination is the intrinsic ability to surpass common view and analyze a situation as they occur in the background of informed theoretical conceptualization. This concept views society as a platform where conflicting and friendly occurrences interact to influence behavioral inclination, norm organization, and conflicts as a result of the cut link between order and anarchy. Across the book, McRay is surprised by the inaccuracy within the ‘single story’ which he believed in before.
Actually, the supposed victim turned into the oppressor and the supposed Palestine-Israeli balance was a strategy for unfair dominance over the Palestinians occupying the West Bank. For instance, McRay confesses that “some of my disillusionment stems from the continued realization that CPT and other peacemaking teams here in Hebron are really not making a dent in the enormous machine that is the occupation” (McRay 40).
As a matter of fact, understanding sociological imagination calls for knowledge of present and past events such as war, disaster, social injustices, and religious inclinations that help to change the history of a society. In the book, Letters from Apartheid Street: A Christian Peacemaker in Occupied Palestine, religion, and sense of pride towards an affiliation is a serious issue at stake in the views of the Israeli soldiers who seem to look down upon the Palestinians occupying the West Bank.
On the other hand, the Palestinians view the attempt by the Israeli soldiers to dominate over them as a mastermind move created to undermine the norms and principles holding their society together from the ‘single story’ syndrome (McRay 39).
As observed by McRay, interference with the peaceful coexistence between Palestinians and the Israeli soldiers could mean breaking down bonds and affiliations uniting the institution of marriage, family, class, social inclination, and religion at the micro and macro level. In response to a threat to beliefs, they come out in numbers to express dissatisfaction and restore order through protests. Since the issue at hand is sensitive, they are ready to adopt every means possible to assert a shared stand.
The author confesses, “Perhaps then my task is simple to be, to be with the Palestinians in their suffering, standing and waiting in solidarity. Perhaps my task is to encourage the realization of reconciliation and beloved community by practicing it as best I can” (McRay 33). The book discussed intolerance and forces interacting to undermine peace between the two warring societies.
From the book, Letters from Apartheid Street: A Christian Peacemaker in Occupied Palestine, it is apparent that the main cause of conflict is the need for dominance over an ideology, religious inclination, or behavior. Reflectively, the conflict resolution act studies behavior of an individual existing in a larger society and the response the individual exhibit towards norms and institutions that monitor the order. In line with the beliefs in functionalism, religion has a pivotal influence on the way of life in the West Bank. Therefore, the oppression by the Israeli soldiers has seriously jeopardized the Palestinians living in the West Bank and disintegrated them into pieces hanging loosely. Since religion is a unit among other, interference with the same has destabilized the organic analogy of the Palestinian community.
McRay, Michael. Letters from Apartheid Street: A Christian Peacemaker in Occupied Palestine. Washington, DC: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2013. Print.