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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Objection!

According to at least one person, I am writing "anti-semitic international propaganda" because in the one post (as far as I know) that he read by me, I did not write about Palestinian missiles or about Israel's right to exist. Palestinian missiles and Israel's right to exist are all some people read about and/or want to know about.   There is more, much more, to the story of this place. I am here to delve into those other parts of that story.

I'll admit I don't really know what "international propaganda" is. I am aware that antisemitism is the word some people use to try to shut down criticism of the State of Israel.

It is not the fact that Israel is a Jewish state that I object to.  I do object to the fact that non-Jews are subject to different laws than Jews.  I do object to the fact that Israel continues to build settlements in the occupied territories in violation of international law. I do object to the fact that Israel denies 95% of Palestinian building permit applications and then issues demolition orders for structures Palestinians build anyway. I do object to the fact that Palestinian access to water is limited, but Israeli access is not.  I do object to the fact that Palestinians suffer far more violence from Israelis than vice versa, and yet we rarely hear about it in the news.  A recent UN report (and a report from earlier this year from UNICEF) highlights Israeli abuse of Palestinian minors.  This, too, I object to.  I particularly object to the fact that all of these things are done in a place that is referred to as "the only democracy in the Middle East." These are objectionable acts regardless of where they are happening, but certainly don't belong in a democracy. The State of Israel, a nation to which my own country gives vast amounts of money, is carrying out these actions and I am most definitely going to speak out, not only for the well-being of Palestinians and Israelis, but also because I want my own country to uphold and support the values we claim to hold dear.
Remains of a demolished home in Hebron


Anyone who knows me personally or has read this blog for any length of time knows that I am critical of injustice wherever I see it;  my most intimate experiences with injustice have been in Latin America, in India, in the U.S., and in my own community.  Right now I see it in Israel/Palestine. I have written, do write, and will continue to write about the occupation until it ends.  That may mean I will be writing about it for the rest of my life.

This does not mean that I think that Palestinian missiles are acceptable.  I don't.  I don't believe that violence, wherever it comes from, solves problems.  But as I wrote above, Israeli violence towards Palestine is far greater than Palestinian violence towards Israel and the above examples point to the fact that it is systemic.


Two days ago my teammate and I were awakened at 5:30 AM because Israeli soldiers were on our roof, shouting to the soldier across the street (the building across the street from ours is part of an Israeli military base). When we went to find out what was going on, the soldiers told us that they'd heard someone was throwing rocks. No one was throwing rocks from our roof that morning. No one throws rocks from our roof ever. Even if someone did, was it necessary for six soldiers in full military gear to barge into our home before dawn to investigate? These kinds of home invasions happen all the time, though not often to us. For Palestinians, the stakes tend to be higher than disrupted sleep.

Such a rude awakening did not get me started off on a good note.  To try to temper my mood, I put on my T-shirt from His Holiness the Dalai Lama's visit to Louisville.  The back of the T-shirt reads, "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."  I hoped that my very literal way of being "clothed with compassion" (Colossians 3:12) would help me to act with compassion.

I was still fired up when we went out for our morning school patrol.  As we went through the mosque area, I chose to challenge the soldier who told us we had to take off our hats and vests.  "Why?" I asked.

"It's an order," he said. I replied that I knew it was an order and was polite but insistent that the soldier explain the reasoning behind the order.  He directed me to the police and border police at the entrance to the mosque security checkpoint (different from the checkpoint to get into the mosque area).  After consulting with each other in Hebrew, they said I needed to call the spokesperson for the police (a response I hadn't heard before).  I asked who that was and how to contact him/her.  They said they didn't know and that I should do a Google search to find the information.  I did a Google search, found a name, but have not yet found contact information. I have my doubts as to whether or not he'd have the answers I seek anyway.

While on patrol later in the day, my partner and I saw an Israeli soldier limping down the street.  He was using a cane.  We asked what had happened and he said he'd gotten hit in the knee with a stone.  He didn't specify whether or not it happened during the clashes of a few weeks ago. Finally, the words of my T-shirt moved from outside of my being to inside. I wish I'd expressed my sorrow that he was injured.  I had the thought, but I didn't voice it.

I do not wish harm on the soldiers I encounter.  I do not wish harm on the settlers I encounter.  I do not wish harm on Israelis or anyone in the larger Jewish community. I do not wish harm on anyone. Period.

If speaking out against injustice, working for peace, and wishing the best for all people leads some people to believe I am spreading "anti-semitic international propaganda," then so be it.  I cannot control what they think.  But I will continue to speak out, to work, to wish, and to pray for a more just, a more compassionate, and a more peaceful world.

2 comments:

  1. Dear Cory, When I read about where you are it is hard not to feel despair. But when I read about what you're doing it is hard not to have hope. Trusting in love mi amiga

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    1. I, too, grapple with despair and hope. I remind myself that change, especially systemic change takes time. While I may never see the changes I hope to see, I must trust that my little bit of work will help them to happen somehow someday. You, too, play a role as you send your love to and through me. Muchas gracias.

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