Perspectives on the Wall From Bethlehem

From my journal (December 28th, 2019)
 
“I’ve been muttering to myself these days, deep in thought as I prepare to preach tomorrow in Jerusalem. Again I’m deeply humbled by the invitation and also a little gobsmacked…like what in the world can I share to encourage the faithful saints who live under the occupation on a daily basis. Who am I to pretend I know the situation or have something to say. Afterall, next week I board a plane to go back home to Seattle.
 
Anyway the conflict here these days has been ever-present as we cross checkpoints, see the encroachment of the ever expanding wall, smell remnants of tear gas in the neighboring refugee camp and listen to stories. And we’re not even in Gaza where life is supposed to be uninhabitable in a year. On and on and on. The occupation on this side of the wall in Bethlehem is literally omnipresent. Some would also say omnipotent. On the other side of the wall in parts of West Jerusalem not so much. In fact you could miss it entirely. Like many do. Some do so on purpose. Some merely just miss it because the checkpoint is not in their daily path. I get angry when I hear about church groups that come to this place to do the Holy Land tour, or to walk where Jesus walked back then and never ever meet a Palestinian or hear their stories. It’s unethical let alone un-Christian! And I know this is where Jesus would be today. On this side of the wall! I have much more to say about this but must wait until my sermon is finished. For now, take a look at the wall. From this side.”
 
Some basic information on the Wall.
 
Living in the Shadow of the Wall. Information from the Walled Off Museum.

“The wall is both a physical presence and a series of regulations, recommendations and paperwork that determines where Palestinians can live, work and travel. The Israeli government calls it segregation policy Hafrada (separations). The UN calls any system of racial segregation Apartheid (apartness) and regards it as a crime against humanity.”

“The wall is 810km long and cost $1.3 billions: the largest infrastructure project in Israel’s history. The wall is made from Palestinian land: It’s blocks are partly made of concrete dug from quarries in the occupied West Bank. Each block is lowered into place by crane. Building the wall that enclosed them was some of the only work available to local Palestinians. The wall is not a single barrier between two countries, affecting both sides equally. It is a set of local walls, checkpoints and colonies inside the Palestinian West Bank. Concrete blocks make up urban sections of the wall. Other areas use trenches, alarmed fences. barbed wire, watchtowers, drone snipers and surveillance technology.”

“The West Bank has been under Israeli military occupation since 1967. Construction of the wall began in 2002. The wall was proposed as a temporary response to the escalation of violence during the 2000-2005 uprising in 1988-1993. The wall continues to be extended and by the time of its completion it will stretch for 810km, 85% of it on Palestinian land.”

From a Palestinian living in the shadow of the wall: “We think a thousand times before we build, go on vacation, study, work, trade, or grow crops. It’s not because of laziness, or inability. It’s because of concerns about the obstacles, about harassment and attacks by the Israeli military or by settlers. It’s as if we live in a big prison, with invisible walls, as a result of the restrictions imposed on us.”

For more conversation on this post go here. 
 
 

 

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