|Sea of Galilee|
Some things you should know:
- I don't like the fighting.
- I don't support Hamas.
- The issues in Israel/Palestine (IP from now on) are not new.
- Both Jews and Palestinians are misunderstood.
- "Palestine" does not equal "Hamas"
- People on all sides are being hurt.
- I don't think that we can solve this problem by simply agreeing to not shoot rockets at each other.
- I don't think the US is helping.
- I think that the Western media is doing a terrible job of reporting facts.
- I can only share my opinion. It isn't necessarily "right" or "wrong" but merely what I believe because I have seen some of the conflict with my own eyes.
- I went to Israel/Palestine in May 2008.
- The conflict was present when I was there.
- There are Israeli Jews and Israeli Christians.
- There are Palestinian Muslims and Palestinian Christians.
- Hamas is its own entity. Very few Palestinians associate themselves with Hamas.
|A view of the water collection barrels on the roofs in Bethlehem.|
I get so frustrated at the links that people post about Palestinians being hateful, or violent, or terrible people. Can I say again that this is NOT A SIMPLE ISSUE. The conflict is not simply about a group of people wanting another group dead (which I saw today). Nor is it about Muslims being upset about a Jewish community on "Muslim" land (another article that I don't find very factual).
|A checkpoint through the separation wall into Bethlehem.|
When I was in Palestine, I had to go through the separation wall. I had to walk through security with our Palestinian CHRISTIAN tour guide and watch as he was detained because he was a Palestinian. Did I mention that he had lived in Jerusalem (in Israel) all his life. I stayed with a Palestinian Christian host family that had to create their own rain barrels because sometimes Israel just decided to shut off their water. I stayed at a hotel in Bethlehem (Palestinian territory) and was all lathered up in the shower when the water turned off. Not to be turned on for another 12 hours. I saw Israeli soldiers stop small Palestinian children and look through their bags just to terrorize them. I saw 18 year old Israeli soldiers question us about where we had been and why we would spend time visiting "those people." I waited at checkpoints while our bus driver and tour guide were searched simply because they were Palestinian.
|Our host dad, Abdullah Awad. He started a vocational school for Palestinian children with mental and physical disabilities. The first of its kind in Beit Sahour (suburb of Bethlehem).|
|Worshiping at the Lutheran church in Beit Sahour.|
I went to a grand hotel in Jericho that should have been hundreds of dollars a night. But instead it was nearly empty with a casino that never opened. Because it was in Palestinian territory. I worshiped at a Lutheran church with Palestinian Christians that hugged us and told us that we had more power than they did to solve the problem. I went to a very small village in the desert, with no electricity and running water, and met with the village leader that said the children were harassed on their way to school. I was in my Jerusalem the next day when I heard that Israeli settlers (who had illegally built a settlement "city" in Palestinian territory - that Israel had said they wouldn't touch) had stolen sheep - the villages only livelihood - and killed them and wrote a threatening message. Did I mention that the conflict was present when I was in IP? And then I came home to a US that didn't understand anything that we saw, and continued to feed Israel millions in military dollars.
|A small child playing with pliers on the edge of steep embankment in the village we visited in the desert.|
When I was in Israel I saw Christians that were friendly and working for peace. I visited with Jews who truly believed that God had wanted them to come to the area, but that he didn't want them to fight. I visited the old city and saw where Jesus walked. I went to the Wailing Wall and tucked my prayer for peace in the wall as well. We went to a Kibbutz (Jewish communal compound) and enjoyed talking with the people there and learning about their families. We visited the holocaust museum and were utterly shocked at the sadness and evil that was present so many years ago.
And only twice did I feel threatened my entire trip. The first time was when an Israeli soldier - 3 years younger than me - came onto our tour bus, checked our passports and had his AK 47 smack against our seats while he walked up and down the aisle. The other time was when we visited Hebron, a "very hostile city" according to CNN, Fox News and the like. Again, it was an Israeli soldier - a sniper this time - that had his gun trained on us as we walked through the main road of the city. Why? Don't know. You'd have to ask him and his buddy that were sitting in the tower.
|Israeli sniper in upper right tower.|
I met some fabulous Israelis and some fabulous Palestinians. And my heart hurts because both sides are hurting and struggling. Both sides want a place to live and a place to belong, and the extremists on both sides are prohibiting that from happening. Why is Israel bombing Gaza? Why when they know that there are children that are being killed? Why when they know that some of those people in Gaza don't have a way of getting out - and if they did, they would have no where to live. And why is Gaza launching rockets at Israel? Why when it seems that some progress is made do they then declare it time to wreck havoc again?
|Ironic that it says Peace Be With You - on a wall that has caused so much turmoil and surrounded by barbed wire, more fencing and armed guards...|
I'm not sure I've said anything profound. Or really explained the situation any more. But I just wish people would know that there are people on both sides that are hurting. There are Palestinian Christian brothers and sisters that are losing their land, their livelihood and their family members. There are Israeli Christian brothers and sisters that are trying so hard for peace and trying to unite Israel and Palestine. There are some wonderful people in Israel/Palestine. And I wish others had a chance to meet them before making assumptions about a conflict that is anything but simple and black and white.