Friday, October 9, 2015

Despair and resilience

Friends, the news from the West Bank and especially Jerusalem is very grim right now. I hope a few of these resources will provide a glimpse of both the despair and the resilience among the people there. 

It's the Occupation
A 90-second video is circulating that is pretty helpful for folks who tell you that the situation in Palestine and Israel is just too complicated and hopeless. It's called "Violence in Israel and the Palestinian Territories: It's the Occupation." 

The video looks at the question: "When you think of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, you probably think of clashes, rockets, checkpoints and Gaza – but what's really at the heart of the violence in Israel and Palestine?" Check it out and share it with your family, friends and church members. You'll find it at this link: It's the Occupation.

Jerusalem: the Cost of Despair
The Foundation for Middle East Peace has published important analysis from Mitchell Plitnick and Matthew Duss. 

"When you think of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, you probably think of clashes, rockets, checkpoints and Gaza – but what's really at the heart of the violence in Israel and Palestine?

"In recent weeks, an upsurge in violence in Jerusalem has brought the embattled city back into the headlines. According to Danny Seidemann, founder of Terrestrial Jerusalem and one of the leading experts on the city, this violence, boiling at a level unseen in Jerusalem since 1967, actually began over a year ago, and it is not just another spoke in the `cycle of violence.'

"`Usually there’s a tendency to overstate the instability of Jerusalem,' Seidemann said at a meeting of journalists and analysts in Washington this week. `But Jerusalem is normally a far more stable city than its reputation. What we are seeing now are significant developments that go well beyond tomorrow’s headlines.'

"Seidemann described a dangerous confluence of factors, with the political stalemate creating an atmosphere of despair in which the conflict, which has always been political, will finally become the religious conflict that many have believed, until now incorrectly, that it is. The current conflict centered on the Temple Mount is only the tip of the iceberg. According to Seidemann, 'The entire fabric of this conflict has changed.'”

There is more. Please give this piece your attention. Find the link here to Jerusalem: the Cost of Despair. Mitchell Plitnick is Program Director at the Foundation for Middle East Peace. Previously, he was Director of the US Office of B’Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. Matt Duss is the president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace. 

Palestinians Are Fighting for Their Lives; Israel Is Fighting for the Occupation
I don't like to send you to the Ha'aretz website because it's so cluttered with ads and difficult to read. However, this week's op ed by Amira Hass is very clear and important. I oppose violence yet Hass provides excellent insight into violence occurring in Jerusalem and other parts of the West Bank.

Hass writes, for starters, "That we notice there’s a war on only when Jews are murdered does not cancel out the fact that Palestinians are being killed all the time."

And, "The war did not start last Thursday, it does not start with the Jewish victims and does not end when no Jews are murdered. The Palestinians are fighting for their life, in the full sense of the word. We Israeli Jews are fighting for our privilege as a nation of masters, in the full ugliness of the term."

And, "Young Palestinians do not go out to murder Jews because they are Jews, but because we are their occupiers, their torturers, their jailers, the thieves of their land and water, their exilers, the demolishers of their homes, the blockers of their horizon. Young Palestinians, vengeful and desperate, are willing to lose their lives and cause their families great pain because the enemy they face proves every day that its malice has no limits." Please read the entire piece at this link: Palestinians Are Fighting for Their Lives.

Now for some resilience and hope.  A number of short videos are available from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. In one Bishop Munib Younan explains the importance of ministry with children and youth through the schools and congregations of the church: "We believe the priority is to give our children that molds their identity, that helps them understand the other, and to help them live with the other who is different - by religion, by thought, by ideology, by race, by color. Or to learn how to use the muscles of the brain and not the muscle of the arm in dealing with conflict resolution." Find it at this link: The ELCJHL's Work With Youth and Children.

If You Could Tell People About Palestinians
In the second wonderful video teenage students of the Lutheran schools tell us what they want people to know about their lives as Palestinians. They are so articulate and winsome. Show this in your congregation as a good discussion starter. It's at this link: If You Could Tell People About Palestinians... 

Bright Stars Blog
Finally, three young Bright Stars of Bethlehem interns, Julianna, Hannah and Eva, enjoyed working side-by-side with people in Palestine this summer. A delightful blog that chronicles some of their experiences is at this link: Bubbles and Blondie go to Bethlehem. For more about Bright Stars, see the website.

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