a time for peace

– standing against occupation

come Obama, change my life

This plea from Israel appeared in CounterPunch on November 6, 2008 – it’s too good not to share!

By Edna Canett, of Machsom Watch, an Israeli group of women who monitor the checkpoints on the Jerusalem side.

Obama my dear, they tell me that you are going to change the world. Do me a favor, come and change my life personally.

Come to Israel, grab its stupid leadership by the throat and take its foot off the neck of another people. Come and force us to do what is clear, and written, and fitting, and necessary, come and get us out of the Territories, if necessary do it with a smile that reveals million-dollar teeth. If necessary bare your teeth and force us to do it.

Make it so that I don’t have to get up in the morning – I who hate to get up early, to go to the checkpoints, to watch and to weep. Make it so I will not have to see 19-year-old children who have been duped into believing that they are defending the home front by pointing rifles at five-year-old children.

Make it so that when my daughters take a shower for half an hour I don’t have to think about Ayad’s family from Awarta that puts buckets under all the washbasins in order to reuse the water which is more precious than gold. Because the settlements need the West Bank’s water more than the Palestinians do.

Make it so that when I sit in a traffic jam I don’t have to think about the vast numbers of cars that are standing at the entrance to Tul Karem while each one is checked by soldiers and dogs because there has been a warning that they’re about to blow up Tul Karem.

Make it so that when my sister urgently rushes to the hospital to give birth and when I rush my husband to the hospital practically with red lights flashing, I don’t have to think about the women giving birth and the heart patients and the wounded people who are stopped at the entrance to Nablus because their vehicle has no permit to enter.

Make it so that when I see a soldier in uniform on the street I do not wonder what he did last night. What house he entered in a “Straw Widow procedure”,* what boy he beat up in the alleys of Hawara because he smiled the wrong way.

Make it so that in the morning I don’t hear the satisfaction in the voice of the radio newsreader who relates that the IDF has killed six terrorists.

Obama my dear, this autumn I did not go to the olive harvest. It didn’t work out. Please make it so that I will not suffer from pangs of conscience because I am not doing enough. That I am living my own good life, pursuing my career, while for the other people just to get home safely is a career in itself.

Please relieve me of this pain that I have all the time deep in my belly. It never lets up, I can never really enjoy life, children, friends or work, because my mind is preoccupied with the image of the shepherd in Baq’a standing by the locked gate and shivering with cold because the redhead with the key has not showed up, and the bound blindfolded boy, and the three-year-old girl who got hit on the head by the carousel at the checkpoint, and the barriers of dirt and the concrete blocks that stop the lives of so many people from flowing smoothly.

 Come, Obama, come and save us from ourselves.

 And if that is what they mean when they say you are not a friend of Israel, then don’t be a friend. We have already had friends who arm us and justify every horror we carry out and save us from the international courts. Be a true friend. Save us from ourselves. And don’t do it for the world, do it only for me, so I can have peace. You owe it to me. I do not believe in God but still I prayed for you.

 *The IDF practice of forcibly occupying private Palestinian homes temporarily, for tactical purposes – translator

Edna Canetti wrote this for MachsomWatch. The piece was translated from Hebrew by George Malent 

November 12, 2008 Posted by | children, Israel, Occupation, Palestine, peace, women | 2 Comments

neve shalom/wahat al-salam…

…/Oasis of Peace is a village southeast of Tel Aviv that is an intentional community made up of Jews and Palestinian Arabs, all with Israeli citizenship. Since the 1970’s 50 families have come to live in this small area, families who are devoted to peace and living in respectful relationship as both the healthiest way to bring about peace between people, and as a model for the rest of Israel/Palestine. I spent some time with them last week… walking the streets, meeting the residents, visiting the schools, and seeking out their spiritual center.  These are folks who are committed to finding solutions to the problems that arise between those who are fundamentally different yet who have so much in common. And it is working.

Children come to the Peace School from the village and all around this agricultural area.  The schools teach both Hebrew and Arabic and they do it well because the teachers are native speakers!  The students learn the histories, traditions, and cultures of both people and they share their thoughts and feelings about one another with mutual respect. Their families are neighbors and their parents speak well of one another.  Could it be so easy to live as friends??

The pluralistic spiritual center is located on the edge of town, on a beautiful hillside. The entrance is a courtyard of a Meeting, Prayer and Study House with space for Muslim prayer on one side and Jewish synagogue teaching on the other, with a small kitchen they share so they can offer hospitality to everyone who finds a way to their door.  Plus there is a separate House of Silence a bit further down the path. Around these structures are lovely nature paths for hiking or strolling that I enjoyed as I prayed and listened for God’s presence.  Could it be so easy to find peace??

There are plans to expand the community to include up to 140 families here. But they are trying to determine how to add families who will fit well into the life of peace that can sometimes get difficult when something happens in the larger countries of Israel and Palestine.  It is really not as easy at it appears at first glance.  But these folks are committed, with every part of their daily lives, to making peace become the reality now and for their children.

At a time when Israeli-Palestinian relations seem to be at a new low, here is a village whose people still believe their engagement together in peace programs and intentional living can offer the hope needed so badly in the Mid-East.  Jesus says, “Blessed be the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)  May these children always know the blessings of their God as they work for peace!

salaam/shalom/peace – Pastor Pat

November 3, 2008 Posted by | children, Israel, Occupation, Palestine, peace | 2 Comments

schools under siege…

Tuesday we were called to the village of Al Khader, whose four schools are located near the international soccer field I mentioned earlier – two elementary schools (boys and girls) and two secondary schools (girls and boys).  It seems that Israeli soldiers have been harassing the teachers and students for the last week – putting in a flying checkpoint some mornings that delays the start of school one to two hours, announcing (untruthfully) that the schools have been closed, surrounding the schools and delaying the students leaving by an hour or more. Please understand that school starts at 7:20 am and does not serve lunch, so by 1:00 pm dismissal, the kids are exhausted and hungry – and now being traumatized by scary men with huge weapons.

Each principal has tried to stop the soldiers from being near the schools, but the commanders harshly push their way past, pointing high-powered weapons at him/her, claiming they can go anywhere and can do anything they want. A few months ago, they shot tear gas into the boys secondary school to make sure all the students had come into the courtyard! Even worse, in the past couple of years, they have “detained” 24 boys from the secondary school for six months and longer without any charges. Right now, they continue to hold eighteen boys and two girls, who were roused from their beds and taken away from their families with no explanation, and held in prison without any charges or trials. 

This time, they say they saw a student throw a rock onto the apartheid “settler road” that runs past below the back of the school compounds. When we went to the scene it was obvious that no one could have thrown a stone that could have hit the road. Due to a slanted roof over the road at this point, it is a physical impossibility! But the harassment continues, because it can.  Sadly, the powerful can always find reasons and ways to abuse the oppressed.

As the time for school dismissal approached, we could feel the tension build up, from both teachers and students. One little girl who feels especially traumatized by the soldiers presence, comes into the headmistresses office everyday now about a half hour before the end of school, just for reassurance. While she agreed to smile for a picture, I saw her heart wasn’t in it. Gratefully, the soldiers didn’t come the day we were there.  The teachers tell us it is because the Israeli long-range cameras are placed so they can see into the schools, and when internationals are there they stay away.

Imagine for a moment, any of this happening in American schools. I believe the outcry would be deafening – from parents, the public, the officials, from everyone! Yet here, in the Land of Occupation, the cries cannot be heard. Harassment like this is so common, it is considered almost normal.  Individual families who protest are punished. Teachers and counselors are ignored.  Even the local officials have no power to fight the Occupiers.  The Israeli government continues to claim it is all in the name of “security.” And they are backed by the money, the resources and the power of the USA – which includes me… and you.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, when facing the apartheid and abuse in South Africa, said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”  For Americans, it’s something to think about as we send our kids off each morning confident of their safety, at least from those who serve in our security forces. Maybe it’s time to tell our political leaders, we expect the same for children everywhere!  

peace/salaam – Pastor Pat

October 24, 2008 Posted by | children, Occupation, Palestine, peace | Leave a comment