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'Aggressive pacifists' put their faith on the firing line

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CPTer Kathleen Kern, a published Bible scholar from New York state, puts the group's ethos this way: "I've always felt that to be a pacifist, you should be willing to take the same risks for peace that soldiers take for violence." Ms. Kern has been beaten twice by settlers in Hebron; other CPTers also have been assaulted in their work.

Funded by individual and church donations, CPT maintains projects in Hebron, the Chiapas region of Mexico, and northern Colombia, as well as with several native American groups in Canada and the US. A handful of CPT staffers support the work of 20 Corps members, such as Kern, Shantz, and Ms. Montgomery, and about 100 volunteers, who spend up to several months a year working with CPT.

CPT has been in Hebron since 1995 at the invitation of Hebron's Palestinian mayor, although it lacks any official status with the Israelis. Generally a half-dozen people constitute the team, but it can be a few more or less.

Their lifestyle falls somewhere between Spartan and monastic. The CPT apartments - one for men and one for women - are in a traditional Palestinian building in Hebron's Old City market. The floors are tiled, the thick walls are whitewashed, but the d├ęcor is strictly activist: maps and posters, two or three modest Christian symbols, and wise words, such as these from the Dalai Lama: "Be compassionate, work for peace, ... and I say again, never give up."

The team members share a common living room furnished with a couch, an easy chair, and a small dining table. They rotate responsibilities for cooking, cleaning, leading worship services, and logging their activities. A Hebron CPT specialty: pita-bread pizza.

In one of the men's bedrooms, the furnishings consist of two sleeping bags on narrow foam mattresses and a much-used wardrobe to store clothes. One wall is decorated by a postcard of Caravaggio's "Supper at Emmaus," which depicts a resurrected Jesus identifying himself to his unwitting companions.

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