And on the Seventh Day

Day 7, and the bombing continues in Gaza and in Israel.

I've been avoiding blogging about this in part because it's one thing to offend folks about the economy and politics, but that's nothing compared to the flaming that erupts when Israel and Palestine enter the blogosphere. But I also haven't written because my family and I have friends in Gaza, in Israel, and in the West Bank, and it's upsetting to think about what they are going through. Easier, safely over here, to stay in denial. Writing coherently about events that make me sad and angry -- not easy!

So I wanted to begin with something that was both informative and constructive: Information about a few organizations -- Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and secular -- that are working for peace. These are groups I think our readers might want to learn about, might even want to donate to. These are not representative of the whole spectrum of politics, and they aren't 'endorsed' by all the writers of bleakonomy.
Friends of Open House

If you've read the Lemon Tree, you've heard about Open House. Open House
was founded in 1991 to foster better relations among Israeli Arabs and Jews, starting with the residents of Ramle, Israel. Open House has remained active and flourishing despite periodic outbursts of violence and the resultant climate of fear, which can sap hope and the motivation to work for peace.

Grassroots International
Grassroots International supports local organizations in Israel and Palestine that focus on "resource rights" -- access to water, to olive groves and farmland, etc.
Land and water have been at the core of the conflict between Palestine and Israel from its very origins. Access to and control of these resources is critical for achieving Palestinian self-determination and for an enduring and just peace with Israel.

Jewish Voices for Peace
"Through grassroots organizing, education, advocacy, and media, Jewish Voice for Peace works to achieve a lasting peace that recognizes the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians for security and self-determination."

Christian Peacemaker Teams
"Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) arose from a call in 1984 for Christians to devote the same discipline and self-sacrifice to nonviolent peacemaking that armies devote to war. Enlisting the whole church in an organized, nonviolent alternative to war, today CPT places violence-reduction teams in crisis situations and militarized areas around the world at the invitation of local peace and human rights workers."

Islamic Relief USA
Probably the top-rated Muslim charity in the US, "
Islamic Relief has been helping the Palestinian people since 1994, providing food aid, medical relief, small business loans, and orphan sponsorships, among other services."
Finally, I wanted to share with you the work being done by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. The diocese is part of the ancient Arab Christian community in the Middle East, and in addition to the historic parishes, the diocese supports 33 institutions, including hospitals, clinics, kindergartens and schools, vocational training programs, as well as institutions for the deaf, the disabled and the elderly. One of the main hospitals in Gaza is run by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, and Father Charles Cloughen has been speaking with Suhalia Tarazi , Director of the Arab Anglican Hospital in Gaza, every morning this week:
Each day the news from the hospital has become more dire. The hospital is old and most of the windows have been blown out by explosions. The patients are cold, no glass is available to fix the windows, they have been forced to cover the broken windows with plastic bags. The ventilation system has been destroyed and lies broken on the ground. There is no food in the markets, and little fuel for the generators. She [Suhalia] is frantically searching for blankets to keep the wounded patients warm.

She constantly uses the word "catastrophe" to describe the situation. It has been rainy and cold, 11 degrees Celsius . The patients and staff have had little sleep with constant bombing night and day. The wails of ambulances is constant. She asks us: "For me personally prayer is everything. I hope tomorrow will be a good day ,not like yesterday and the day before. I fear more suffering and the blood of innocents."

Financial support through the Diocese of Jerusalem is being used to buy food, fuel, blankets and medicine.
Yes, there is suffering on both sides. And yes, the decision by Hamas and other extremists in firing rockets into the homes of Israeli families is disgusting and appalling . I'm not sure what the solution is for Israelis and Palestinians. I know it doesn't involve qassam rockets falling into the home of families in southern Israel, but it neither will it come from warplanes killing children and other innocents. Peace won't come from suicide bombers and threats to drive Israel into the sea. I also know peace doesn't come from uprooting Palestinians from their homes and ancestral lands, tearing down their schools, churches, mosques and olive groves, and enclosing people into a 25-mile long prison where no sovereign state takes responsibility for the rule of law, where medicine and food and jobs are scarce beyond reason, where borders are arbitrarily closed...

I've traveled in Israel and Palestine, both the West Bank and Gaza. Good friends have been there within the last few months. The stories are heartbreaking -- and sometimes heartwarming. There are many, many people who are working for peace -- rabbis and imams and priests, secular organizations and individuals. Frank Griswold, the former presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church once said (to paraphrase) "It's called the Holy Land, because it needs our prayers the most."

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for writing something about this, Devin. I've been trying to come up with something to say for several days, and I end up realizing that I have nothing helpful to contribute.

    Which is probably the case about a lot of things, come to think of it.