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Reflections on Violence
December 16, 2010   Palestine
I’m waiting in my car at the checkpoint to exit Bethlehem and enter Jerusalem. Perfect time to write a report for the MwB blog.
Today Ahmad al’Azzeh gave a nonviolence training for eight trainees.
The women receive this training from Holy Land Trust next to the musical training from MwB. I hear you thinking are these women so violent they really need this training?
The answer is no, these women are not violent at all. But they live in a society under occupation and have to deal with violence on a daily basis. Besides that, lots of the nonviolence techniques can be very useful during the music workshops the trainers give to children, like a positive body posture, nonviolent communication, and leadership.
During the workshop, no answers were given by Ahmad; the women had to find answers together by discussing, sharing experiences and listening to each other. They learned to be open for each other’s interpretation and to accept the different views on violence-related issues.
New for the group was the division of three different kinds of violence: personal, structural and cultural. 
Personal violence is any direct violence between people, like a husband who hits his wife.
Structural violence is embedded in social structures, for example gender discrimination. This form of violence was difficult to grasp in the beginning, but after some discussion, one of the trainees came up with the following: Structural violence is invisible but you can feel it. The group shared experiences at the checkpoints as an example. Sometimes nothing violent happens at the checkpoint, but you might still feel violated, you can still feel hurt, angry, frustrated or sad. Nothing visible happened, but the fact that you have to pass this checkpoint in your own country, that soldiers with guns have the possibility to abuse their power, that you have to wait for an hour, or that the soldiers check your bag, can make passing the checkpoint a violent experience.
I realize again that while I’m waiting in my car until it’s my turn to show my passport and let the soldiers check the stuff in my car (and every time again I see them wondering, what is she doing with a parachute, wooden sticks and a guitar???) that I’m lucky I can pass this checkpoint and enter Jerusalem. Because all the people I met today in Bethlehem, the trainees, the trainer, the falafel seller, any random person in the street, are not allowed to just enter Jerusalem like I do. I suddenly realize that this is structural violence as well. It is not visible, nobody can see how I feel while standing in line in front of the checkpoint and feeling frustrated because I can pass and many of my friends can not. It won’t leave a blue mark on my skin, it won’t break my leg, but it can still hurt in a way.
Up to the third form of violence: cultural violence. Cultural violence can be used to justify structural or personal violence. If it is normal in a culture for a husband to hit his wife when she comes home too late, the woman can interpret the beating different from a woman who lives in a society were hitting is forbidden and not accepted at any level.
I’m sure I’m not explaining it clearly and I probably still don’t understand the complete idea. That’s what happens when you have to follow a NV workshop in Arabic….Anyhow, both women groups will receive five more workshops in nonviolence so I will still get many chances to learn and understand better!
During the evaluation of the workshop some of the participants mentioned they usually don’t like to attend lectures so they were very happy this workshop was so interactive. They liked that everyone was free to give her own opinion and that they were challenged to really listen to each other instead of immediately reacting. The evaluation was very positive, except for one remark: can we please have a heater next time??? We are freezing!
Yes, winter has arrived in Palestine as well.
Topics: Palestine