Olives for Hope

If the world is ever going to come to peace,
humanity can no longer be recognized 
on a case by case basis.

Reflections

Pt. 2: Every Picture Tells a Story

Posted on August 5, 2011 at 4:35 PM

 

There are 5 things in life you cannot recover: A stone...after it's thrown. A word...after it is said. An occasion...after it's missed. The time...after it's gone. A person...after they die. Life is short. Break the rules. Forgive quickly. Kiss slowly. Love truly. Laugh uncontrollably. And never regret anything that made you smile, Enjoy Life! - Anonymous


Messing up is a common bond all people share – we all do it, and more than once. Do you remember as a kid getting and giving “do-overs”? The chance to start over – try again, is such a gift, I wonder why you never hear gown-ups saying “It’s a do-over”. But, we can give ourselves do-overs too and see each new day as a chance to try again, to do better. And, you don’t have to mess up to want a do-over (although, those can be the best kind). Sometimes it is a good memory that you want to re-live; a feeling or place to revisit. When I go back to Palestine, “there never seems to be enough time to do the things you wanna do, once you find them…” [Jim Croce] But with six months ahead of me I am already accumulating quite the list of moments I hope to “do-over”. The pictures above represent just some of them.


1. Jenin – I visited Jenin during my first trip and I have not been back since. Friends from the Palestinian Fair Trade Association will be there in October and I hope I will be able to catch up with them. The horse in the picture is made from scraps of vehicles destroyed (including an ambulance) when the Israeli Military bulldozed the refugee camp (See the film Jenin, Jenin).


2. Haifa – My time in Haifa was very short and I would certainly like to visit again and explore more. There was a restaurant that had a wonderful lava cake desert thing – hmmmm. I would also like to see Akko. I took the train there and spent some time lost on the highway, but I did not have an opportunity to see much more, although I did have a wonderful falafel sandwich there. (That was a strange afternoon.)


3. Sea of Galilee –This photo was taken at the Church of the Beatitudes. I felt an almost spiritual connection to the Sea of Galilee. Wherever I was in Galilee I always oriented myself in terms of where I was in respect to its location…And sunsets were incredible! I always have been a water baby, so I would love to find a place to go swimming (I think) and the idea of camping on the lake has not lost its appeal. I hope to go back to the Church of the Beatitudes and this time go to Tagba as well.


4. Carmel Mountains – I would like to see the effects of the fire and talk to people affected. I have also heard something about a bridge that I “just have to see”.


5. Golan –it wasn’t until I left last time that I found out how much more there is to Golan than what I saw. I hope I can find someone to show me more, and I have heard it is possible to kayak there….


6. Jerusalem – there is so much to experience I don’t think I will ever be done discovering Jerusalem.


7. Sunset on the Sea of Galilee - see #3


8. The villages of 48 – I need to learn more about the stories of the villages. My friend Nimer will help me to connect with people from Al Bassa who will take me to the ruins of the village.


9. Imad and Munira – Part of my Palestinian family. Munira made me chamomile tea and chicken soup when I was really sick.


9. Eilaboun – Eilaboun, perhaps because the memories I have specific to that village, has a special place in my heart, and  I love this view. Last year I left just before the anniversary of the massacre. This year I hope to go to the commemoration. There is also a group that gets together in the old church for something they call music for peace. I was invited to the last one they held, but of course I wasn’t in Israel then. I have been told it will happen again while I am there.


10. Bi'ram - See #8


11. Michael and Merriam and the entire Rishmawi clan – more Palestinian family. I will be living in the “Rishmawi neighborhood” and am looking forward to telling Rogeen, "Mabrook" on her marriage in person! Oh – I need to figure out a wedding gift….


12. Hebron – one of the most depressing places I have ever been. I hope this time I will get to see another face of Hebron.


13. Kanafe anywhere – but I do want to make it to Nablus again and visit the folks at Project Hope and Pioneer School.


14. Tiberius – I don’t know why I never made it last time, but this time I definitely want to explore Tiberius


15. The kids – always so open and engaging – it s all for them. These guys were playing soccer in the alleys in the Old City near their school - So different from the Jewish children playing just five minutes (if that) away. So sad to grow up that way. 


16. Majdal Shams/Golan – see #5


17. Dome of the Rock – this time I will make it in time to go inside! - Yes, I will!


18. Nazareth – I would like to get a sandwich and find this park again – good memories.


19. Herodian [the flat topped mountain in the distance]– Another site I have never made it to – although I saw it in the distance every morning last year. It is going to happen this year!


20. Daher’s Vineyard – This is near Bethlehem. I want to go and learn more about the peace building camp they have for children.


21. Celebrations – You can learn alot about people from what and how they celebrate. The harvest, my birthday, Christmas, New Years and Christmas again; I am looking forward to all of the celebrations - I just have to find people to celebrate with!


22. Learning backgammon – Once upon a time I knew how to play, but haven’t in a very long time. I want to get back in the game!

 


The Best Laid Plans

Posted on July 23, 2011 at 1:22 AM

“….even if you bear the light, you are not the light, and even if you are a lute fastened with strings, you are not the lute player.” ~Gibran


During the last few days,   as I was making the final preparations for a dinner to raise funds for my trip to Palestine in September, I have experienced many unexpected challenges. Then, the day of the fundraiser (the hottest day of the year) it seemed as though nothing could go ‘right’ – from getting stuck driving the car that did not have air conditioning, to the hatch of the car flying open as I drove down the freeway and almost losing everything for the dinner. The worst moment though was arriving to pick up a promised donation of food, only to find that the store owner was no longer feeling charitable. In the end he did make the donation, and yes, tears were involved.


It seemed as though I had upset some devil who was following me through the day, determined to derail me. But equally determined were the angels that also watch over me. In the end, there was food (lots of amazing food), good friends and we raised some money (how much – I don’t know yet). At one point a friend said to me “There is a lot of love for you in this room.” I looked out at all the people gathered there and realized that they were all there for me and what I cared about. Some had driven a distance to be there, others had rearranged plans to support me. Others had worked hard to make the night happen, a real blessing in its imperfections. I am sure there will be a bit of fundraising to do yet, but I feel pretty confident that we are on the way. Thank you to everyone for getting us started! (And now, to sleep for a couple of days…) 

 


What's so funny about Peace, Justice and Security?

Posted on July 16, 2011 at 1:31 AM

I love the sacred and spiritual kindness which should be the source of every law upon the earth, for kindness is the shadow of God in man. ~ Gibran

 


One of the ongoing arguments in the push-pull of Israel / Palestine is between the concepts of ‘peace with justice’ and ‘peace with security’. It was recently raised again when a new Facebook page received some attention as a forum for Palestinians and Jewish Israelis to get to know each other. I can’t say what the actual motives are behind the page, but it certainly has stirred up the debate.


Rationally, I understand that a peace without justice is not a real peace. It would be a detente, but not really peace. On the other hand, when the word justice is used like a flag, it feels like a threat to "the other". They wonder "what do you mean by justice?", "Do I need to give up my home, my way of life, my security?" I agree that justice has to be the endgame, but to demand it up front is very similar to demanding "security" before peace - neither can be a precedent for peace. Demanding peace upfront is also illogical and shallow. All of these are fruits of the process...not the process itself.


It is only by taking a risk to be vulnerable, to experience true dialogue can we get to peace, justice and security. If I am able to get to know and care about "the other" as my brother or sister, it would hurt me to see them in pain. So I then become willing to make sacrifices for them. Their justice or security would no longer be a threat to me, and I can begin to understand that my comfort came at a cost to someone else. Once that happens we move a lot closer to peace. Maybe I am naive, but I believe that through connection. we will get to Peace, Justice and Security.

 


Let Freedom Ring

Posted on July 8, 2011 at 11:30 PM

This is my song * oh God of all the nations * A song of peace for lands afar and mine


This week in the US we celebrated Independence Day. We “let freedom ring” with fireworks, parades and festivals. But, I have to wonder, how many people took a moment away from the barbecue to consider what freedom really means? In America I think it most often means the freedom to buy mass quantities of things, very cheaply. Most of us do not understand that consumerism fuels a world order that rewards greed and not freedom. While many here cheer the ‘Arab Spring’, and hail what they see as people desiring to have American style democracy and freedom, they don’t take the time to understand America’s role in creating the very despots the revolutionaries are seeking to overthrow. And, woe to those same revolutionaries, if their version of Democracy isn’t American enough.


This is my home * the country where my heart is * here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine

 

I do understand the advantages I enjoy because I was born in America. I value our constitution and the values enshrined in that document. The founding fathers, although flawed, were visionaries. They gave us a foundation of which we can be proud. The men (and women) that put their lives on the line for the conviction that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” call on us to honor their sacrifices by living up to those ideals.


But other hearts * in other lands are beating * with hopes and dreams * as true and high as mine


My personal celebration included rereading the declaration of Independence (http//www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/) It is an inspiring document. Unfortunately, too often those words have been used as a political tool of convenience – that apply to these people, but not those people.


My countries skies are bluer than the ocean * and sunlight beams * on clover leaf and pine


We cheer for the young people in Tahrir Square, but turn a blind eye to the crackdown on activists in Bahrain. We laud the change in Tunisia, but hesitate in Yemen. Libyans need our protection, while Syrians die. And over and over we tell the Palestinians to be patient and we refuse to hear the Palestinian cry for justice. Even (and this breaks my heart to say), some close to me seem to be forgetting that as stated so well by Desmond Tutu; "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."


But other lands * have sunlight too and clover * and skies are everywhere * as blue as mine

 

I value the freedom that is promised to me, and I believe that freedom is a responsibility. I know my freedom depends on yours. So, I will continue to work in my small way for the day when all children are free to live, love, laugh, learn, cry in peace and justice, then we will all be free. That will be an Independence Day to celebrate!


Oh hear my song * oh God of all the nations * a song of peace * for their land and for mine.

~ Finlandia (Jean Sibelius)

 


Waiting to Exhale

Posted on July 2, 2011 at 2:55 AM

 

So much seems caught on the edge of a pregnant pause.  As the Gaza flotilla attempts to break Israel's naval blockade of Gaza (but cannot get out the Greek harbor), as Fatah and Hamas waver at the brink of reconciliation, and as the international community wavers at the brink of recognizing a Palestinian State in September, we hold our breath waiting to see what will happen next (although we probably already know).   And, as I begin to prepare to leave for Palestine in September I am not even sure how to begin.

 

This trip will be different from previous trips. This time I will have a 'job' and of course I will be there much longer. I have not even begun to wrap my mind around what I need to do to get ready. As I try, I am thinking back to my first trip, there were a lot of unknowns then as well. Deciding whether or not to go to Palestine for the first time, I participated in a Quaker tradition for discernment - the clearness committee. During that process one of the Friends that sat with me asked “what are you afraid of?”   Without hesitation, my answer was "that I won’t want to come back".

 

I have said before how each time I go, the return to the States does get harder and how I have learned that it is possible to be homesick for a place where I have never lived. I have also learned that there are people that you can know all your life, after only an hour. I know it's not possible, but it is true. Chuck learned a little of this when Father's Day weekend we were invited to a picnic with a community of Palestinian - Americans living in the Lansing area - my Albassa family (they are originally from the destroyed village of Albassa in Israel). When it came time for group photos, they insisted that we were included saying, "You are family!" It is truly a blessing to be 'adopted' by Palestinians!

 

It is hard sometimes though, to not wonder what I have accomplished. After the last trip, I actually considered not going back at all.

 

Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything. ~  Thomas Merton

 

Through this work my life has intersected with wonderful people and I am so grateful for the opportunity to work for them;

Imad and Munira - my first Palestinian family (and my first taste of Arak [kind of like oozo, but more]). I recently heard from Imad that they have been without water for 29 days and the cistern is running dry;

Baha - focused and sweet, and VERY funny (and yes, his mother makes the best tabouli!);

Michael and Miriam - my second Palestinian family. They have just celebrated the marriage of their daughter Rojeen. Michael so patiently helped me start to learn Arabic;

Kristel - the wonderful Dutch girl who lost her heart to Palestine too;

Bana - the beautiful spirit from Beit Sahour that I did not meet until she came here;

Nimer - who drinks coffee with me while we talk politics and Palestine at Biggbys (and introduced me to my Albassa family);

Marcus(and Sue & Nabil) - my first Palestinian friend in the States (I will never believe that random chance brought me to his office) I am honored that he and Nabil trusted me to tell their stories;

Hanna - intense and full of contradictions, showed me the beauty of Galilee and he did say that March is the best time to see Galilee... (maybe, someday, I can finish the post I began to write about him);

and so many more....

 

I am told frequently that I am brave – I don’t know about that, but I do know that as I set out on this new adventure, I will need the strength and friendship of all of them (And I certainly could not do this without the love and support of those I leave behind).

 

I was not sure where I was going, and I could not see what I would do when I got [there]. But you saw further and clearer than I, and you opened the seas before my ship, whose track led me across the waters to a place I had never dreamed of, and which you were even then preparing to be my rescue and my shelter and my home. ~ Thomas Merton (The Seven Storey Mountain)

 


Kanafe in Golan

Posted on June 24, 2011 at 10:09 PM

It's all a point of view...


On the first leg of my trip last fall, I was blessed with the opportunity to make a short trip to the occupied Golan Heights.  While we were there, my host and I had kanafe at a street café in Majdel Shams, a Druze village in Golan. I love chocolate, BUT I would choose kanafe over chocolate any day. (I wonder if I can get a kanafe birthday "cake"?) My host was not impressed with the quality of the kanafe we were served and vowed to take me to a better place. The next day we went to a bakery in Nazareth and their kanafe passed his scrutiny. But, to be honest, I really did not taste much difference.Then last weekend I had kanafe in Dearborn. Oh goodness - that was great kanafe! (The family at Shatilla Bakery are from Nablus, the home of kanafe.) I wonder if my host would have agreed?


It's all a point of view;

It just matters where you stand....


At the border with Syria I ldid learn about how families seperated by the fence will use binoculars and megaphones to communicate back and forth. In the same area this spring, on May 15 and June 5 , Palestinian refugees attempted to cross from Syria. Many were killed and injured. I have photos of the spot where they crossed and it was strange to see the news coverage, showing tragedy in a place that holds such good memories for me. .


It's all a point of view;

It just matters where you stand...


Unfortunately, not knowing much about Golan, I wasn't prepared with the "right" questions while we were there. Now when I look back, I think of the questions I wish I had asked. I hope I will get another chance. 


Recent conversations about my hopes for the upcoming trip have turned to what it means to work for peace. Some say "peace begins with me" and believe that first they must focus on inner peace. Yes, it is important to be centered in peace, but if I wait for "inner peace" I might as well hang up the "marching shoes". Creating peace is an active pursuit. “It isn't enough to talk about peace, one must believe in it; and it isn't enough to believe in it, one must WORK at it." ~ Eleanor Roosevelt


OR

"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. ~Bishop Desmond Tutu


It's all a point of view;

It just matters where you stand...

and where you stand matters.


Let's talk about it over some kanafe and Nescafe...

 


E=MC...

Posted on June 11, 2011 at 12:28 AM

 

"I don't see much sense in that," said Rabbit. "No," said Pooh humbly, "there isn't. But there was going to be when I began it. It's just that something happened to it along the way." ~ Winnie the Pooh

 

Applying a known set of rules to a new situation is a natural thing to do. It is however, not always the smart thing to do. I am someone that wants things to make sense. I will over think something beyond any rational reason to do so, trying to understand. This only creates more confusion. In order to learn Arabic, for example, I have to first learn to suspend belief in the rules of language that are, at this point in my life, so ingrained that they are automatic - I could not tell you why the silent 'e' is silent or how it makes the 'i' in time long and not short as in Tim. I just know that it does. My greatest struggle in learning Arabic is an unconscious attempt to apply those known rules to a language that rejects most of them and has plenty of its own. (In Arabic, there is a 'silent E' but it is actually a 'T') As soon as I accept that something is not going to make sense though, it becomes clearer - much like Palestine itself  (and now I know how to call someone a donkey if they really make me mad!)

 

It is the same with people. We each have our own points of reference, our own experiences, our own 'rules'. Hopefully we are open enough to realign those 'rules' as usefulness diminishes. I have a very bad habit of expecting others to act / react the same as I would – according to my rules. Not long ago I was struggling to understand the actions of someone I cared about, and a friend said to me "Of course you don't understand - you would never do that." This wasn't a judgment of the person I was struggling with, but merely a truth. I could not really understand because their actions and choices were so foreign to my point of reference. As soon as I let go (at least worked on letting go) of that need to understand, the situation began to become clearer.

 

When I travel to Palestine those rules that create order in my life, get stretched - and that's a good thing. But still those past trips have really only been visits. This time I will live there. This time those rules that I know so well, I think are not just going to be stretched, but cracked open. This time, I think I will be tested in ways I can only imagine. Will I pass?


You can't help respecting anybody who can spell TUESDAY, even if he doesn't spell it right; but spelling isn't everything. There are days when spelling Tuesday simply doesn't count. ~ Winnie the Pooh


 


Five Hundred Ninety Six

Posted on May 7, 2011 at 9:53 PM



 

596 – that is how many individual pictures make up this mosaic (1000 total images). 596 moments from my trip to Israel / Palestine last Fall - 596 moments out of three weeks of my life. Most of them were taken in the Galilee – I guess because that was new to me and, like I have said before, how many pictures do I need to take of the "Wall" and of olive trees? But yet, it seems strange – 596 moments worthy of a physical record? Surely, there were more than that……


Early on in the trip, I went to the Mount and the Church of the Beatitudes. It is really the only ‘sacred site’ that holds much meaning for me in a personal sense…”Blessed are the peacemakers….” . I was torn between just absorbing the sensations and the emotion of being there, just experiencing that moment, or recording the moment with the camera. That is when Hanna, my host who had brought me, said “Cathryn, don’t be a tourist!”  (As I have said before, the people we find in our lives are no accident, and for this I owe him a big “thanks”.)


That was the, not so subtle, reminder I needed of my goal to live life with arms wide open, to be in the experience, not outside of it, looking in, a spectator. So that is how it began; how this trip ended up being the most personal one. Just allowing myself to experience each moment, to live in each moment, the good and the not so great, was an amazing (and hard) lesson to learn.  Although I have fewer actual photographs this time, than from past trips, my memories are that much richer and the photos I do have are that much more meaningful to me.


Just as the whole of the mosaic, like our lives, is made up of many different   ‘snapshots”, so is the gnome. And like the gnome, we are all made up of snapshots of time.  The good, the sad, the joyful and the embarrassing, we all have moments when we are not as compassionate as we hope, or as understanding as we should be, or react as we wish we would. But we are not defined by any one of those moments, those snapshots.

To measure you by your smallest deed, is to reckon the power of ocean by the frailty of its foam. To judge you by your failures is to cast blame upon the seasons for their inconstancy. - Gibran

We hope the people around us care enough to take the time to understand, and can see past those moments to the whole picture; but they may not. It can be very sad if they don't, and we have to decide whether or not that risk is worth being fully present; or do we choose to be tourists in our own lives – carefully staging each frame for effect. 


My friend Ron has also wriiten about the difficult process of living an authentic life in his blog; (http://ronirvine.wordpress.com/2008/11/19/fragile/)

But if the most important thing in life is love, and the heart of love is connecting with others heart to heart, then why do we spend most of our lives running from love . . . hiding from others . . . hiding our souls?

Seeking the truth, seeking love, requires that I live authentically . . .

Living life with arms wide open though is no easy thing and I often find myself wanting to close my arms, to put them in front, to feel my way along carefully, to protect myself. This last trip was my first conscious effort to let down that guard completely and, to be honest, my hands got slapped pretty hard, and I think I lost a friend. But I’m OK (I live, I love, I learn), there is always hope for tomorrow, and I can never go back to being a tourist.


Like Rumi told us, if we want to dance, we need to embrace the pain, and sometimes, even loosing ourselves in it;

Dancing is not getting up any time painlessly like a speck of dust blown around in the wind. Dancing is when you rise above both worlds, tearing your heart to pieces and giving up your soul.


 




This and That

Posted on May 7, 2011 at 9:21 AM

"Real fearlessness is the product of tenderness. It comes from letting the world (touch) your heart, your raw and beautiful heart. You are willing to open up, without resistance or shyness, and face the world. You are willing to share your heart with others.” Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior


This blogging thing, is a strange thing. There is a "Dear Diary" quality to the act of putting my thoughts on paper, but then I publish my words for anyone to see. It is at the same time a private and public act - a one way conversation. So, I am always happy to hear from people their thoughts and impressions after reading. Thank you for walking this path with me!

 

It has been a very busy week, personally and globally. Sunday was Nakba Day and there were mass demonstrations in many areas. The last figure I saw was that 14 were killed by Israeli forces as the demonstrators attempted to cross Israel's borders at Syria and Lebanon (and many more injured). I was giving my "Occupation101" presentation as the news was developing. Then on Monday I presented to a Peace group. As part of the presentation, I screened the fim Sons of Eilaboun. It is a very good film and many commented after, how much it had impacted them. Overall, I was able to share the Palestine I love with fifty new people.

 

Thursday Obama gave his much anticipated Middle East speech; and the most interesting (entertaining) thing has been the reflexive right wing rant that Obama threw Israel under the bus. At this point, I think they would have the same reaction if he gave the weather report. Because, honestly, there was nothing new in that speech. Anyway, it doesn't matter since the world is ending Saturday! (And I am going to Hell, Michigan - let me know if you would like a post card from Hell =)

 

But in case the world doesn't end - I am thrilled to be able to announce that I have a commitment for a volunteer placement this Fall/Winter - Paidia International Development in Beit Sahour (paidia.org). I will be managing the transition as the current in-country Director leaves and until the Founding Director gets there in February. This position will also allow me the flexibility to still travel in Galilee and Golan to pursue the writing project I was hoping to do. So, I am very excited. If you come to Bethlehem, of course I would welcome visitors! ;)


Where Are You From?

Posted on May 6, 2011 at 11:19 PM

My house says to me, “Do not leave me, for here dwells your past.”;

And the road says to me, “Come and follow me, for I am your future.”;

And I say to both my house and the road, “I have no past, nor have I a future.

If I stay here, there is a going in my staying; and if I go there is a staying in my going.”

~ From ‘Sand And Foam’ (Khalil Gibran, 1926)


As I scramble to “get my house in order" before I leave for Palestine in September, I began to think about the issue of identity. My Facebook profile says that I live in Grand Rapids (although I actually live about 40 minutes away) and that I am from Paw Paw, Michigan (although I only lived there for six of my 48 years, it is where I first began to see myself as an individual). One of the first things I learned to say in Arabic was “I am from America”. When overseas, that’s enough of an answer to the question “Where are you from?”


I think in the U.S. however, that the question is more about “where do I belong?”, because everyone (except the small percentage of full blood Native Americans) is “from” somewhere else and we are always on the move. But since this is such a large part of our identity how do we choose our answer? Is it where we were born; where we grew up; where our grandparents are from? Is it citizenship? Or is it more about our sense of belonging to a place, or affection for the people there?


These are more than just interesting questions when we are talking about Israel and Palestine. When Netanyahu, yet again, demands that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish State I have to wonder what then happens to the Palestinians living in Israel as citizens? How then could they choose to identify with the Israeli State? Aren’t they “from” that same land? The State of Israel came to them in 1948, not the other way around. In the U.S. the majority of citizens would identify themselves as “Christian”. Should we then demand that America be recognized legally as a Christian state? There would certainly be an outcry from any of the “minority” faiths in this country if that were to happen. But somehow Netanyahu’s demand seems to so many, to be perfectly reasonable.


Juliano Mer-Khamis, the founder of the Freedom Theatre in Jenin described himself as “fully Palestinian” and “fully Jewish". His mother was Jewish; his father Palestinian and Juliano grew up in Nazareth, Israel. His love for both aspects of his identity led him to work with the youth in the West Bank city of Jenin. And some say it may be what led to his death – he was killed by masked gunmen in Jenin on April 4,2011.


Like Juliano, our sense of identity can bring us together with others – sharing the richness of each person. But, identity can also be used to separate us, distinguishing us from them. I believe that is the fundamental flaw in Zionism, as it tells the Jewish people that nowhere and among no one else can they truly be themselves and be safe.


When I heard Mark Braverman speak about his book “Fatal Embrace” he spoke about confronting the wall that that had been built between himself, an American Jew, and “the other”. I was reminded of the day I was picking olives beneath a settlement near Bethlehem. As we were leaving, we walked alongside a fence which surrounded the settlement. This was not your ordinary “Good Fences make good neighbors" fence. It was over ten foot tall complete with razor wire and a gun tower. I live near a maximum security prison and this did not seem so different. I was struck by the thought that while the settlement is occupying the Palestinian land, the hearts and minds of the settlers are also occupied – occupied by the visceral need to stay separate. I know that among many activists the call to build bridges between Israelis and Palestinians is viewed with skepticism – as ‘normalization’. But the reality is that these two peoples can only really heal the pain between them together.


When your hostage heart cries out in a muffled voice; when the silence screams with a deafening noise; should you feel that death is your only choice let me weep with you, I will comfort you, I will weep with you.

~Ralston Bowles – I will weep with you