Thursday, November 21, 2013


[and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream." ] Martin Luther King, Jr.

There are no mighty streams left in the Occupied Territories. I can no longer say there are no mighty streams left in the West Bank because the West Bank is full of illegal Israeli settlements that have full access to water and electricity, bypassing the Palestinian villages which have water tanks on the roof and a generator that runs on propane for electricity, and often a tank of water that was purchased from the Israelis.

The settlements are not trailers or tents, but modern cities with neighborhoods of identical multi-family buildings interspersed with high rise condos, office complexes, and hospitals. Close to Jerusalem they have swimming pools and fountains, green space, parks, medical clinics, shopping centers, and industrial complexes. These often house 50-60,000 people who mostly have moved from the US, Russia, and Africa to live in subsidized housing, and who have been paid sometimes upward of $20,000 to move to a settlement. For many of the settlements around Jerusalem and Bethlehem the address is Jerusalem, and unless they ask, may never know that the apartment they are living in is in an illegal settlement. The Israeli road system which crisscrosses the West Bank dissects the land as Palestinians are not allowed to drive or even cross these roads. Sometimes these roads separate a village from their farmland. Riding on these roads, a passenger or driver never sees a Palestinian village as they are cleverly disguised by a wall or routed so as to skirt far enough away so they are invisible.

The latest injustices are occurring within Israel. There are 1.2 million or 20% of the population of Israel that are Arab Israelis, in other words, 20% of the population of the Jewish State of Israel is Palestinian--Moslems and Christians. These are people who were not displaced by the Jews during the Nakba in 1948, or in 1967 after the 8 day war. Recently two pieces of legislation have been passed that discriminate against the Arab Israelis. The first is a recent law that refuses a permit to the spouse of an Arab Israeli. The citizen of Israel will have to decide to move to the Occupied Territories or not to live with their spouse. This law does not apply to Israelis who are Jewish, as any spouse of an Israeli Jew can get citizenship rather quickly.

The second law gives preference for housing, education subsidies, and jobs to those who have served in the military. In Israel an Arab Israeli is forbidden to serve in the army, so they are not able to receive the subsidies or preference for housing and jobs. This is clearly a form of racial discrimination.

Inside of the Occupied Territories justice continues to allude Palestinians. We met again with Omar in Al Walaja. His home has been separated from his village by the new Israeli only wall. His normal way of passage to get his children to school has now been closed and he has to drive through a tunnel that was built by the Israelis at a cost of $600,000 NIS. This road now takes an additional 30 to 45 minutes to get the children to school. Due to the proximity of the settlements it is impossible for Omar to leave his home unattended, and he cannot have visitors past 7:00 PM. He knows that every move is seen by the military as they have installed cameras around his property. Within a few months a fence will be built around his home. He has been promised that he will be able to get to his olive trees twice a year--once to harvest and once to prune.

Justice seems to be an illusion. The settlements have grown in the past year despite promises to cease the construction. Children are angrier the only have an outlet seems to be in throwing stones. We witnessed a group of young boys throwing stones at the wall. Then a young man who had been arrested at the print shop where he worked at about 10:00AM, was interrogated and then released at about 5PM. We watched as his mother walked eagerly up the hill to greet him and the crowd cheered for his release. Later we saw the same angry children throwing rocks at the military tower in Bethlehem. We quickly exited the area and learned the next day that one of the young boys had been shot with a rubber bullet. He will survive. 

Pray for Justice so that peace may be upon these people.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Once again, onward to Jerusalem

I am just finishing up my packing, making sure I have my toothbrush, enough underwear, and clothes suitable for the warm weather. Tomorrow I begin leading a tour of 3 other women; two of whom have never set foot in Israel. The planning has been daunting--how can I share months of experiences in a little less than a week? After the week I have planned we will be attending a conference which will be awesome with many speakers, many viewpoints.

The news of late is frustrating. We have the report of a tunnel in Gaza that had been discovered so the Israeli military came into Gaza (illegally) to destroy the tunnel. They were met by a boobie trapped tunnel, and 4 were injured, one seriously. The next day 4 young Palestinian men were "neutralized." in other words, 4 deaths to pay for 4 injuries. Neither side is right. All violence is wrong.

The Prawer Plan will be back in the Knesset. This is a plan to bulldoze all of the Beduoin villages in the Negev. It passed in the spring but is coming up for final discussions this week. Hopefully all will remain peaceful in Bethlehem while we are there.

On this journey we will be staying with a Palestinian family in a 4 bedroom, 2 bath home. I'm excited to do that, because I know the family and they are awesome! We will be visiting refugee camps, Beduoin villages, Hebron, the Tent of Nations, villages of Al Masara where we will take part in their weekly peaceful demonstration where we will see the IDF (Israeli military) in action, Al Walaja, Battir, and other locations where the occupation is particularly difficult on its citizens, although I'm not sure it's fair to say or believe that some have it worse than others. It is all difficult. And best of all we will enjoy the hospitality of Palestinians and will enjoy their food.

I ask you all to keep us in your prayers so that Jan, Marcia, Lisa, and I will all return safely home in two weeks. Then we will tell you all about it!