It’s hard to imagine that one year ago, February 21, I was sitting in a coffee shop drinking an Americano (of course) that cost me 10 Shekels. I was just inside the old city of Jerusalem on the first day of my trip to Palestine/Israel. Needless to say, it was incredible to spend the beginning of Lent (it wasn’t quite Lent yet) in the Holy Land.
I learned a lot on that trip. Very deliberately.
I went into it not doing any reading except what impressions I had from my life experience and what I had learned from the news. I just wanted to experience it—meet the people, walk the streets, see the Holy Sites, and see what it feels like to live there.
Now you should know right up front that Palestinian Christians led our trip. The travel agency, the hotels, the restaurants, our personal tour guide, the bus driver, even the cabbies who handled the transfers from the airport in Tel Aviv—all Palestinians.
Israel is an apartheid state.
Think US treatment of Native Americans in our history and you totally understand why I say that. It’s almost exactly the same blueprint. Israeli settlements continue to take territory from Palestinians whose families have been on the land for generations.
The Israelis control everything, even in the areas under so-called Palestinian administration. The Israeli Army is everywhere. Army service is compulsory for all young people, so there are uniformed girls and guys with guns everywhere—to control the people.
Just in the Hebron area (near the tombs of the patriarchs and matriarchs—Abraham & Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah) there are 100 checkpoints. The checkpoints are there to control the people, like cattle. They call it “security.” Seriously, we’re walking through the area and we go through two checkpoints showing passports just to get to the Mosque that’s over the tombs. And then, we have to go through security to get into the Mosque!
You can tell the areas that are heavily Palestinian right away, not just from the checkpoints. There are big black water tanks on top of every building where Palestinians live. Why? They don’t have 24/7 running water.
The West Bank (Palestinian territory) supplies almost all of Israel's water. But, since the Israelis control all the water, they sell it back to the Palestinians for 5.5 ($1.49 US) shekels per cubic meter. And get this, they charge Israelis and the settlements, wait for it, 0.5 shekels (14 cents US) per cubic meter.
And to add insult to injury, they control the flow of the water to the Palestinian areas. So even though they pay the outrageous water rates, Palestinians can’t always count on running water. In fact, on average at least one week a month they are without water hence the need for the storage tanks.
If you’re really interested, you can go back in The Blog and find the blogs from Palestine/Israel. Those are my direct experiences—as they happened—from my iPad in the Holy Land. There are pictures on the church’s Facebook too, but it may take a little more cyber-digging to find those.
All this to reflect on one thing. The president has no understanding of the complexities of the politics in Palestine/Israel. No clue.
Recognizing Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel exacerbates a problem that goes back generations. If you can remember from your US history, the stories of the “Indian Wars” and the battles for control of the American westward expansion, you will completely begin to understand the friction and you will understand the problem more clearly.
Palestinians want one thing and one thing only. Equal rights—including a vote that counts and a life of happiness, peace, and freedom from control. Oppressive control. Apartheid.
Grace and peace,