The Shopkeeper

Tank overlooking Hebron (Photo: CPT, 2003)

My friend’s shop is in the old city. Because there is curfew everyday (131 days), he has been unable to get there. Recently, his shop, along with nineteen others, was welded shut by the Israeli Army. I have been to the
District Command Office (DCO), to speak to someone who might be able to get the shops un-welded. They gave me a phone number of someone to call who
might be of assistance. Everyday for the last month I have been trying to reach someone on the phone. No luck. Then today, something magical happened,
someone answered.

“Hello?”

“Yes, sir. My name is Chris and I’m with Christian Peacemaker Teams.”

“Yes.”

“I am calling on behalf of some shop owners in the Kasbah whose shops are welded shut. I was wondering if we might be able to get the shops open in order that the owners could remove their merchandise?”

There was silence. I heard muffled sounds in the background. Someone got on the line again (a different person this time) and told me that the only person he would talk to about this situation was the shopkeeper himself. I asked if this process could go through me, but he said no.

I walked to my friend’s house. He opened the door and greeted me warmly. As always, he invited me in for coffee. I told him that I had finally reached someone on the phone at the DCO. “Do you think this person will help us?” he asked. I shrugged my shoulders. I didn’t know what to say to him.

I just sat there, not saying anything. I just listened. “I don’t have any money. I had only ten shekels this morning. I gave it to my children to get to school.” He said. “I have many bills to pay. Where am I going to get the money to pay for the electricity? I have nothing.”

We sat in silence. Then, he turned to me and said, “You are a good friend Chris. Thank you for helping me. You are always welcome in my house.” I smiled. “Maybe, God willing, I can welcome you in my shop again.”

I’d like that.

Chris Brown is a member of the Christian Peacemaker team in Hebron