Sometimes I just don’t understand.

In what is supposed to be one of the holiest places on earth, there is so incredibly much injustice, violence and death.

I have been to Palestine and Israel.  I’ve talked to Israeli settlers who sit in well-watered communities with green grass and swimming pools while Palestinians live beneath them with so little water that they are lucky to have drinking water through the week, let alone a shower.  I’ve met with Palestinian refugees–one man in particular sticks in my mind:  his deepest prayer was to have good dreams again, like he did when he was a boy, before he was forced off his land.  I met a Palestinian woman who cried because one of the members of our team said she wanted to purcahse souveniers from Palestinians. 

I’m also good friends with a Rabbi who studied in Israel.  The pizza parlor beneath her apartment blew up one day and human remains were stuck in the tree outside her window.  Before then, she ate there almost every day.  Few things decay our sense of security more than violence in the places we take for granted. 

I have been upset over the painful relationship between Israel and Palestine that seems to me to be nothing short of an apartheid government.  I have been ashamed of my country’s blank check that we give to Israel to do whatever it wants with the billions of dollars that we send them. 

Never have I been more appalled or more ashamed than I am now.

I never dreamed  the depth of indifference to human life that has been exhibited over the past weeks.  It grieves my soul when three hours is the most the government can muster to allow in food and fuel to people who are literally starving to death…when the world’s cries of human rights violations and injustice fall upon the deaf ears of the Israeli prime minister and American president…when the already frail credibility of the United states crumbles with each Palestinian building…when praise to God is silenced in Mosques by American missles fired from Israeli jets…when relief workers are killed, trying to bring food and medicine to a hospital.

The holiness of the Holy Lands erodes before us.

Hamas should not fire rockets.  Israel should not have closed the borders to sever Gaza’s lifeline to the rest of the world.  Hamas should not have instigated suicide bombings or rocket fire.  Israel should not have taken away water supplies.  Hamas should not have…   The list of “should nots” dominates the history of Israel and Palestine since Israel’s modern inception. 

When will the Holy Lands lead the world by demonstrating the way that the world should be instead of just the way it shouldn’t be?

When will the Holy Lands show the world, once again, what it means to be holy?

There are pockets of hope.  Christian Peacemakers Team, Women in Black, Elias Chacour, Foreign and Domestic Doctors–Palestinians, Israelis and worlwide citizens are out there offering hope.  I pray for the day when their story of should prevails over what shouldn’t be.