Palestine. West Bank. Arab. We are conditioned to wince at these words. Have you ever asked yourself why?
What is Palestine? It’s not a country, it’s not an ethnicity, its borders are vague, and through the heavy weight of oppression, kids still play in the streets and friendly smiles greet you on every corner. Palestine is an idea. It’s Land. Dirt. Dust. Justice. It’s a birthright. The problem is, the birthright belongs to two sons. For all of human history, stemming prior to Babylon, this conflict has remained unresolved. The Palestinian Liberation Organization, or the PLO, runs the quest for the justice of this idea for one side. I’m not here to say what is right or what is wrong. I’m here to have an experience, to have a healthy view of both sides. I don’t know who has the right to the land or what the extent of the conflict is as the opinions vary based on who you’re talking to. What I do know is what I experienced. And what I do know is the wall is towering and frightening and as an American, I cannot comprehend what it would mean to me to have someone tell me what I can and cannot do or where I can or cannot go or that a wall and fence will now be placed directly where my house was and there is nothing I can do about it. My heart cries for Israel, but my compassion also lies in Palestine. What would I feel if someone told me I had to leave my home, my land and never look back, but only look forward to a life of poverty? Maybe somewhere along the lines, some great ancestor did own it before I had, but for hundreds of years, my family was building a life there. How does that look? Where is the justice for either side? Do the First Nations have a right to forcefully and violently remove you from your land without compensation because they owned it before Europeans came? Maybe they do. I don’t know. Maybe the land does belong to Israel, but what do you do with all the people living there? It eerily is reminiscent to WW2 Germany, Rwanda, Darfur, and how sometimes people are brainwashed to believe the only solution is to remove the people in the way. I don’t believe this is a solution for either side. Blood has been shed and it has not worked. The land itself is crying out for justice of those fallen, as the dust settles on top of dust, void of the greenness just beyond it’s wall.
We went to the West Bank with Anis and Allie. This term contains such strong emotion from so many, again the fault of the misleading media. It’s hard to express the extent of my gratitude towards Anis for sharing the experience with us. As we walked the streets, there was a calm beauty to the streets. We ventured to Bethlehem to see the church of the Nativity, and also ventured through many other Arab villages. We ate at the most amazing restaurant of all time, again enjoying an insane amount of Arab food and great hookah, while watching the sun set over the village. There is a local singer who usually sings at the restaurant, and we were privileged to see his audition on the television for their own version of American Idol. Everyone cheered. After a few hours of great conversation, we went to the wall. Here you begin to see the pain of the people. The wall is there to keep people out from the outside and keep people in from the inside. It’s huge. The graffiti is mostly in English, so we can see and read and understand. One graffiti-artist’s trademark is to draw a boy facing away. He said he would only show the boy’s face when Palestine is free. There are quotes from Obama and MLK Jr. as well as Nelson Mandela. This, just from the one corner we went up to. Again, I don’t have the answer. I just see a great injustice there that breaks my heart. There are good people on the inside and there are good people on the outside. Where is their voice? Why can they not be heard? I don’t see how there will ever be a solution, and if you’re a believer in the Bible, you’ll understand why there never will be.