Just as I as I sit down to write this our neighbor who is gleaning figs from her tree and offers me some. “Shookran”, thank you”, I say. She asks, “you American?” How can she tell?
Did Jesus take a break for summer, did he head for the mediterranean for the beach or just chill on a sailboat on the sea of Galilee? I read all of the gospels through – what a luxury to have time to do that – but there is no mention of the disciples grabbing a vacation or even a night out with the boys. Vacation, leisure, relaxation were only for the wealthy, and still are. Summer would have been a good time to break, for as I have mentioned, it is hot and sweaty. Jesus, like everyone else must have been quite odiferous, but then when you all smell the same no one cares. Feet especially, so to wash a person’s feet was indeed a stinking, humbling task.
We ran out of water today, so no showers, flushing or washing of dishes or clothes. As I have mentioned, Palestinians get 2 days a week when they can fill their tanks, are not allowed any wells or private water sources, so that the settlements can have all they wish for their gardens, lawns and pools. One tank per household.
What a way to “cleanse” away a people, by taking away their water. This life struggle for them is for me only an inconvenience, but gets me to consider what Jesus did! Jesus’ day didn’t have water bottles for a long journey, they had to minimize their need for water, staging their walks from well to well, roads would have meandered to wherever there was water. Stopping in Samaria at Jacob’s well was a necessity, not an alternative, and asking for water was not just for a casual, cool drink, but a dire necessity.
Most settlers in the occupied West Bank are unaware of their impact, don’t understand why Palestinians have no gardens or enough water to be productive. They come from other countries, are offered fine new homes (about 1500 sq ft) no down payment and later, extremely reduced rates. There is a bill before the Knesset now to eliminate the tax on settlement homes. Any Jew from anywhere in the world may come, becoming an immediate citizen of Israel, to take farmland, a home or school from someone who has lived here for 2000+ years. When you get such a gift you don’t ask questions, especially if where you come from has dire poverty and discrimination. The ones who do know the facts on the ground believe that God has given them all the land, and the end justifies any means. Below is the settlement of Har Homa, as it hovers over the Bethlehem area to the right. It’s trees will have been uprooted from Palestinian land and replanted.
Some settlements are only have full, partly because it is more difficult to encourage Jews to come, partly to plan ahead for an anticipated growing population, partly due to Americans using them as part-time or future retirement homes, but mostly to get an increasing foothold on the land. The increasing violence by settlers is partly due to Israel being open to younger, more extremist Jews, who have no understand of democracy or human rights. This is significant in what is happening now, the reduced voices of peace, as well as where Israel is headed in the near future. Will the US still stand with Israel if it has an extremist, racist Prime minster – yes, even more extreme than Netanyahu?
Alex Awad (see earlier blog) has just sent an email.
The first Christian victim of this round of violence (in Gaza) is Mrs. Jalele Ayyad. Fatin Ayyad who is a relative of Jalele, and member of the Shepherd Society’s team, told me that the woman (over 60 years old), was killed when an Israeli missile hit her house. Fatin said, the family first were sent a missile with a message, “Leave the house immediately!” Before the family was able to run, a deadly missile hit the house, killed Jalele, injured her husband and crippled their son. The doctors may amputate his legs. Pray with us that he will survive. Mrs. Jalele Ayyad was buried at the Greek Orthodox Cemetery in Gaza City. Fatin sadly commented; “All the Israeli talk about giving Gazans enough time to leave their homes before shooting is absolute propaganda”. Some got killed under the rubble of their homes without ever receiving a warning, some got slain on the way out and others got killed on the streets after they left their homes. The tragedy is that some ran to what they thought was a safe shelter and the indiscriminate bombings followed them and ended their lives inside the shelter.
This afternoon, 10 more children and five Israeli soldiers were killed. May God have mercy on those who are still alive,