19/5/12 - 2/6/12 75 °F
BUSY day! As before, will try to avoid doing dispatches with nothing but hard stuff. We do meet good people, fun people, we laugh a lot and share our frustrations, while hearing about the desparate situation here in Palestine. Am also going to shorten them dramatically, as I realize that it can be just too much. Will expand on my reports when I return.
Did I tell you this group runs the full gamut geographically, age, and level of information? But all seem determined to make a difference in this struggle. Much of the information is new for some, not for others, but even visits and lectures where I think I know a lot about the subject always contain new info, updates, or a new slant.
Took a tour of the Wall, and was reminded of how it deliberately separates farmers from their fields, families from each other as we looked at a beautiful olive grove on one side of the wall and the owners of the trees on the other, and that Palestinians who live in Bethlehem (or ended up not by choice on the "wrong" side of the wall) cannot go to Jerusalem to see their families or do anything at all except by permit, exceptionally difficult to get and often not given. The criteria for obtaining a permit: -over 45 years of age, - married, with children - no "criminal" record, - no relatives with "criminal" records. This paragraph does not begin to describe the hardship and heartbreak caused by this separation by the Wall.
At Kairos: Spoke with Nidal A., a Christian leader in the community and a co-author of the Kairos Document, a piece of work crafted by a committee of 14 from a number of churches, funded by Switzerland, and spreading through churches, communities and activists as the second of two excellent tools (along with BDS-Boycott, Divest, Sanction) that activists outside Palestine can put to effective use. It is the foundation of Churches' attempts to divest from Israel.
Nidal spent 3 years in prison, was tortured, and for 1.5 years did not know why. He was in "administrative detention" that Israel uses regularly to imprison Palestinians indefinitely, without charges, without trial. After 1.5 years, he learned he was there under a.d. but spent another 1.5 years before he was freed. AMERICANS, KEEP IN MIND that Obama signed the NDAA some months ago that now gives him the legal ability to do the same to Americans, though right now that part is stalled by a Federal judge who nixed it.
He stated clearly that he is often asked by other people whether Christians are persecuted in Palestine, and his answer is an emphatic NO. Spoke of the hardships of the 186 Christian families in Beit Jalla, Beit Sahour and Bethlehem as a result of land confiscations, lack of access to Jerusalem and draconian family reunification laws.
Spoke of the need to involve churches in this work, about non-violence, and the importance of "come and see" - come to Palestine and see for yourself! The document asks the world to stop using double standards for human rights - one standard for Israel, and one for all the rest. Someone in our group remarked that Mark Braverman is leading the Kairos work in the U.S.
The Kairos Document says "a religious state is inherently discriminitory and unjust." This is a clear call for the end to Supremacy, and end to having a state for one kind of person only. NOT an end to Israel, but an end to the horrors of racial supremacy. I hadn't read this document and was quite surprised and very pleased to see how strongly this is stated.
Spoke about the value of BDS and spoke of how absurd it is for people to be concerned that "BDS is too strong", and prefer to "invest in Palestinian business" or "boycott only settlement products". Reminds they have tried Everything, and nothing has made any difference, so how on earth could BDS be "too strong"?
CAN'T BELIEVE THIS - AM AN OBSESSIVE SAVER BUT SOMEHOW HAVE LOST THE LAST 1 HOUR OF WRITING. IT'S 12:30 - HAVE TO GET SLEEP. WILL WORK AGAIN IN THE MORNING.