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 

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

prayers for peace

Last Thursday, while visiting Sabeel, a grassroots liberation theology movement in Jerusalem, we learned that they invite Friends of Sabeel all around the world to pray every Thursday at noon (local time) so that a wave of prayers covers the Earth for hours – all asking for God’s peace and justice to reign here on our part of the vast universe.  We shared Holy Communion and joined our voices in unity with Christians all over the world.

Each Friday evening, we join the Caritas Sisters as they pray along the Wall near our apartment.  It is a gentle, peaceful end to a hectic day/week – particularly during Ramadan!  As the sun sets, we walk in the shadow of the Wall, opening our spirits and lifting our pleas for peace up to the Holy One. At the same time, all across this conflicted land, Jewish women are lighting the Shabbat candles and murmuring their prayers, while Muslims are preparing to break their day-long purification fast at an “iftar” meal. Together, in our own ways, we turn toward God, grateful for our many blessings and mindful of our humble dependence on the Almighty One.

Saturday afternoon, we joined many members of the “Church Related Organizations” in an ecumenical Peace Day Prayer Event at the Wall near Rachel’s Tomb. An Orthodox priest, a Muslim sheik, and I (!) spoke of the need for peace and justice in this land and then we offered prayers in eight different languages (I heard english, arabic, spanish, german, italian, african dialect, french…).  Finally, a group of dancers performed Debke, lifting up their prayers physically – it was so amazing!

Sharing prayers unites us, strengthens us, reminds us of a Great God who is already working to bring peace, and brings joy to our hearts as we remember that what we see and experience is not all there is.  Even in the dark shadow of the Wall, the Light of Christ in His community shines brightly, and we are filled with the goodness and grace of our God.

Please add your prayers to all of these whenever you can, and know that while we often pray as a last resort, praying should be the first thing we do, because calling for God’s guidance will allow us to make a difference, as God’s will and ways fill our minds and hearts and bodies so that all we do is filled with peace, justice and grace, wherever we are!

peace/salaam – Pastor Pat

“I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. 
Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!”  
– Psalm 116:1-2

September 22, 2008 Posted by | Israel, Occupation, Palestine, peace, women | 4 Comments

women speak of the checkpoint

The women gather every Wednesday morning for two hours, to share stories, practice speaking English, and connect with other women.  Our leader this month is from Pax Christi in Holland and he is facilitating a conversation about “sumud” which in Arabic means resiliency, steadfastness, and strength-which these women have in great abundance!  As they share their stories, that often sound surreal because of the violence and the abuse they have suffered, I sense they not only have great sumud to have endured without losing their minds, but that this sumud connects them deeply with one another.

Today, we were talking about their experiences at the checkpoint going into Jerusalem.  Please remember Jerusalem doesn’t, or at least, isn’t supposed to, belong to Israel; it is designated a shared city.  But the checkpoint keeps most Palestinians out of Jerusalem unless they can produce a work permit or a special event permit, which can takes weeks of continual pleading to get, and still doesn’t assure entry. (Imagine being forcibly kept out of Aurora or Naperville where your family and friends live, and your church/mosque is located.)

Here are some stories they wanted me/us to know:

  • the facilitator’s 10 yr old daughter had metal decorations on her jeans and t-shirt that set off the Metal Detector. The soldiers told her she would have to strip, right there in front of everyone if she wanted to go thru… they waited and pleaded with them for 20 minutes, then turned back to Bethlehem.
  • a young mom shared a similar experience with her three yr old. The soldiers wanted to take him alone into a room and strip him (because of the snaps on his underware), but mom insisted that she go with him. While she was distracted, her purse (in the soldiers possession) was stolen. Remembering that trauma a year later, this four year old insists he will not go back.
  • Sylvana, a middle aged mom travelled with her children for the first time thru the checkpoint and when she showed uncertainty about the process the soldiers started screaming and cursing her in Arabic. When she protested his behavior, the men passing thru the checkpoint pleaded with her not to make a fuss or the soldier would close the entrance.  She tore up her permit vowing never to return and receive that abuse again.
  • Lorette told of a church-sponsored trip to a Maundy Thursday prayer event in Jerusalem, with a priest and fifty women who had spent weeks getting their permits.  Just before they arrived a soldier got angry at one of the men and shut down the checkpoint. This group waited three hours, as the priest pleaded to be let thru, finally missing the event.
  • Many women spoke of times when they were going thru a checkpoint with friends, when the Christians (wearing crosses) were admitted, but the Muslims (wearing head scarves) were refused entry.
  • Jala shared that when her son married a girl from East Jerusalem they asked for 100 permits for their family to attend the event. They were granted 10 permits for randomly selected family members! After two months of continual protest, 20 more permits were issued. The stress on the family was hard, but even harder on the couple!  (as an up-coming mother-of-the-bride, I would be crazed!)
These may seem manageable, but women don’t go often thru the checkpoint, except on Ramadan Fridays when thousands go thru. When I am there, I normally see 2300 men and only 50-70 women, which means the harassment is proportionally higher among those who would be most easily intimidated. These women want to visit family, pray at their church, do some shopping – how is it they are treated as terrorists?  The fact that many do continue to fight for permits and go thru the abuse, speaks just a bit of their sumud and offers me hope that they will endure a life filled with hardships even larger than checkpoints!
peace/salaam – Pastor Pat
 
The LORD also will be a stronghold for the oppressed,
         A stronghold in times of trouble – Psalm 9:9

September 17, 2008 Posted by | Occupation, Palestine, women | 3 Comments