This morning I visited Mar Saba, a monastery founded in 483 by the hermit and eventually sainted Saba. It is the oldest continuing monastery in the world and Greek Orthodox. Originally they lived in caves and came together only for meals. Poor Saba’s bones were stolen during the crusades, placed in Venice and finally returned in the 1960’s – I saw him, he is really there, still dressed, but needing a cleaning. The monastery was huge, quite austere and like stepping back 1500 years, except for the coffee. The brother who was my guide, is one of the current 14, and from Russia. They also come from the Ukraine, Greece and Romania. Their theology is also quite austere; they are God’s “enemies”, because of sin and they can never please God, therefore they need to live lives that are in constant struggle, with any joy or transformation as signs of self-delusion that they are pleasing God. I chose not to convert! See Saba’s cave, the valley below and a bit of the interior.
This evening I heard Miko Peled, an Israeli citizen and US resident (San Diego), born into a Zionist family in 1961 and now a peace activist. His father Mattityahu Peled was a general in the Israeli army and a member of the Knesset who often expressed controversial views considered “extreme left” in Israeli terms. There were about 40 locals and internationals listening to his very provocative words. Here are a few:
• Israel was founded on terrorism and still is a terrorist state
• Gaza has been bombed by Israel since 1950 – Gaza has never been a security threat, only a threat to Israel’s identity and legitimacy
• A general’s meeting just before the ‘67 war acknowledged the Arabs were weak and not prepared for war but this was an opportunity to take the West Bank
• Post ‘67 war, bulldozers knocked down Palestinian homes to provide space for Jews – finishing the job of the war of ’48 – West Bank has biggest water source in all of Israel/Palestine, so Israel made an intentional grab to have the water – in 1953 they already had plans for taking the West Bank
• Israel has never had any intent of making peace
• Israel does not represent Jewish values – it is a racist, colonialist, regime – most Jews do not accept Zionism – if you support Zionism you support racism
• BDS – Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions is a big part of the answer – the governments of Israel, US and Europe are too financially hooked and will never bring peace without outside grassroots influence
A very powerful presentation, from someone who did his homework. He wrote The General’s Son.