Published: Sep 15, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Sep 14, 2012 02:18 PM
Why would a congregation use its limited resources to run bus ads on town buses? It is the imperative of the call for justice that is at the heart of our Judeo-Christian faith.
The Church of Reconciliation, heeding the call of the Presbyterian General Assembly to study and pray for peace with justice in Israel Palestine, embarked on a two-year study of the conflict.
We created the Salaam Shalom Support Committee with this vision: “In the spirit of reconciliation and with love for the people of Palestine and Israel, the Salaam Shalom Committee of the Church of Reconciliation will study and work for peace with justice in the Middle East.” The materials we studied came either our own Presbyterian church sources or from groups composed jointly of Jews and Christians and from eyewitness accounts.
We learned about two road systems, one fast, direct and streamlined, for those with Israeli plates, the other crowded indirect and slowed by many check points for those with Palestinian tags. These check points provide an opportunity for serious harassment of Palestinians on their way to work, the hospital or to school. A courageous organization of Jewish women, Machsom Watch, bravely monitors some checkpoints to protect Palestinian women and children.
We learned that there is a systematic demolition of Palestinian homes built on land that has been in the family for generations. The families may be given only a few minutes to get out. The Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions is an organization in Israel that goes to the homes under siege to try to stop these demolitions. It was in such a confrontation that the young woman Rachel Corrie was killed by a demolition bulldozer.
Another problem we learned about was the diversion of water from Palestinian to Israelis and to the settlements. Middle East Children’s Alliance, an organization of Jews and others in the United States has sent water purification systems to schools in Gaza to reduce the appalling rate of child mortality.
In Israel, there is healthy dissent and discussion seeking ways out of this complex and difficult conflict. We have wondered, why not in this country? If Israeli women can face soldiers at checkpoints, surely we can be brave enough to open discussion by questioning the military aid given to Israel, aid that makes no one safer and endangers us all.
Janie Freeman chairs the Salaam Shalom Support Committee of The Church of Reconciliation.