I have been home but a few days and that land still lingers within my memory. That “Holy” Land. I lay in bed at night with my window open. The cool and freshness of the night air fills my room. I no longer hear the usual sounds of the night. The rubber meeting the road on the highway, the dog barking off in the distance, the whistle blow of the night train have all been replaced. I lay in my bed and remember the sights, sounds and the people of that place. I hear the call to prayer high on a mountain top and remember the people. I hear the church bells echoing off the thick, stone walls of the old city in Jerusalem and remember the people. I still smell the aroma of the market place in Nazareth and Bethlehem, remembering the people. I see the River Jordan where John baptized Jesus and remember the people. I see the clear water of the Sea of Galilee and remember the people. I hear the waves of the Mediterranean Sea and remember the people. I remember the sites we have seen, where Jesus was born and the rolling hills where the shepherds watched. The place where Mary lived and the angel came. I remember the ground that Jesus and the disciples walked and temptation by Satan occurred. I remember the place where Jesus was nailed to the cross as those who loved him were witness. I remember all of this and much more but still what I remember most are the people.
The people. What I have witnessed, what I have seen is hard to comprehend. The sides are not equal. The one side has much while it withholds from the other. The one side controls the water and electricity for all giving total usage to their own side while withholding use for days on end to the other. The one side uses scare tactics in preventing the communication between those who have much and those who have little. The one side built a wall, much like the old Berlin Wall, claiming it is for security when in fact they are the ones with the armory. The one side uses “the wall” to cut off those who have little from the fruit and trees that provides a living, claiming that it is for security. The one side with much, come in the middle of the night to plow down olive, fig and fruit trees and turn them under the soil to make it appear as though there were none. The one side with much puts road blocks in place to force the other to go miles and hours out of the way to reach their destination. The one side with much bulldozes and destroys homes of those who have little, forcing them to leave the property. While in this Holy Land, the land of Muslims, Christians and Jews, a young boy of 12 years old, threw a rock at the wall that surrounded his family’s land. An Israeli soldier in full riot gear, sitting at his station on the wall, shot and killed him—for security. It is one thing to be secure, it is another to violate human kind and humiliate. The side with much is Israel. The side with little is Palestine. The land of Palestine is gradually being taken over by others, whether they can prove ownership or not. Israel taking over the lands, gets more property, though this has been condemned by the United Nations. There is no distinction between Palestinian Muslims or Palestinian Christians, the dignity of all Palestine is threatened. You may say that this is a foreign land, it has nothing to do with me. I would say think again. This, our country is a country in which finances plays a big part. Money is pouring into this nation by special interests and organizations who want the support of the U.S. Though this should not be so, it is not always what is right but who has the most money.
The people. With all that I have seen, with all that I have heard, with all that I have read, I have hope. We had the opportunity to have as guides those who where willing to give us a dual perspective. One guide Palestinian, the other Jewish. They respected each other. They worked together. They gave us the ability to speak with people of both sides of the question. After listening to those who live there, I have hope. I see hope in the young girl from France who comes and volunteers regularly on the farm in Palestine. I see hope in the student of Bethlehem University who comes from Chili and is there illegally until he gets his ID card. He takes classes as is allowed, to maintain his status but will stay in Bethlehem, for if he leaves he is not allowed to return. I see hope in the niece of a farmer, who comes back from the United States to help her family fight to keep their land. A fight that has been going on for 23 years—and continues. I see hope in the Parent Circle, who have lost children to this fight and now work together for peace. I see hope in the musicians that entertained us. Palestinians and Jewish who only have their music and use it for peace. I see hope in the Palestinian from a small town I fell in love with. He owns a brewery and seeks ways to make others in town successful.
The people. At every opportunity this is what we asked, “what is it we could do to help the situation here?” The answer we received, from each place, from each person was in general this, “Bring back this message, that all we want is peace.” “We want to bring up our children and live together freely.” “There is enough land here for all, we just want peace.”
The message will be delivered. But I have some things to ask. Use more than one resource to gather your information. Don’t just depend on U.S. news and papers. Turn to other international news outlets to get a more informed and well rounded view such as the BBC or others. Since politics is involved by many nations, but especially by ours, consider getting information from support organizations that promote peace. Last, I ask that should you have the opportunity, go to this “Holy” Land.
I requested that two trees be planted up on a mountain top by that farmer. The first tree will be planted for one who has a passion and belief that the more who come to this land the more the word of peace will spread. As the tree grows, so will the chance for peace. The second tree will be planted for me as a constant, growing prayer that the hope found in these young people will bring peace. Some day, I am going back to this land and should it be possible, I’m going back to see my trees. My hope is that they have grown.
Blessings and Peace,