I know I shouldn’t be writing this.   I’m pretty sure that shortly after falling in love with me, the future president of the United States will read this blog post and decide that I’m a jeopardy to his career.  This blog post also jeopardizes any chance I have of ever making it into the political sphere, although there probably wasn’t much chance in the first place.

I don’t like the United States’ policy on Israel.

There, I’ve said it.  The nails are in the coffin, Mr. Future President.  So despite my good-looks, intellect, and witty sense of humor, you’re going to have to say goodbye to marriage with me if you’re hoping to move into that big house on Pennsylvania Avenue someday.

I come here to blog when I’m mad at President-Elect Obama, so it’s only fair that I come here to blog when I’m mad at President Bush, right?  Well, his remarks a few days ago on the situation in Gaza made me mad.

“I understand Israel’s desire to protect itself, and that the situation now taking place in Gaza was caused by Hamas.”

*sigh*  Israel’s desire to protect itself.

Wow, I could write a lot here, but I’ll try to limit myself.  First, I’d like to say that I don’t know everything about this conflict.  I don’t think anyone does.  These people have been fighting since the Old Testament.

I’d like to point out, though, that there are some people who are not part of this conflict and who are getting stuck in the middle.  The Christians.  Let’s not forget about them when we’re grouping all the Palestinans into the “evil” category.  This is the point of this blog post.  There are people over there who need our help– who are being persecuted.  And the United States is pouring money into Israel– money that is then being used to build a wall.

Let’s talk about The Wall.

The Wall.  Heard of it?  Probably not.  While attention has been focused on Gaza for the last several years, there is a human rights atrocity of historic proportions nearby.

The wall separates the West Bank from Israel — a concrete wall over 600 miles long, almost 40 feet high.  It is twice as high as the Berlin Wall and 6 times as long.  Yet do we hear about it over here?  No.  

It doesn’t follow the line that was created in 1967 between Israel and Palestine, but instead is built with Israel taking 10% of the land away from the West Bank.  The Trans-Israel highway runs directly through the West Bank (a road that Palestinians are prohibited from traveling on) which cuts through 17% of the land.  In addition to the road, there is also a three-hundred-yard buffer zone on either side of the highway and another 250 miles of Israeli-settler only roads criss-crossing the West Bank.  All told, Israel controls 46% of the West Bank.

The Wall has separated fathers from their children, people from their jobs, monasteries from their gardens. Pregnant women are cut off from hospitals. One man watched as the wall was built directly in front of his grocery store, cutting off any hope of customers.  Another Christian Palestinian talked about the fact that he was faced with a choice: job or family?  He couldn’t have both.

Christians cannot travel to Jerusalem for Holy Week services.   Homes, hospitals, and schools were bulldozed to create the wall without any talk of compensation.  Children who approach the wall have been shot without question.  

Despite calls from the United Nations to stop building the wall (and President Bush, too), Israel has done nothing but continue to build, build, build.  Now that the cement monstrosity stretches across the land (at $2 million a kilometer), it seems it is there to stay.  And does the US withdraw its support from Israel?  No.

So was I surprised when President Bush didn’t denounce Israel for it’s attack on Gaza?  No.

Was I surprised when Cardinal Martino, president of the Council for Justice and Peace, denounced Israel and said, “Look at the conditions in Gaza: more and more, it resembles a big concentration camp.”  No.

I don’t know that much about the situation in Gaza, but if it resembles the West Bank, I would say the comparison is not that off-the-mark.

I just finished reading an excellent reflection/travel journal from a priest who lived in the Holy Land during the spring of 2005.  (I wish it was more readily available, because it’s eye-opening)  I like what he says:

“Israel deserves admiration for what it has accomplished in terms of extablishing a homeland for the Jewish people.  It is only right and just that they do the same for their neighbors.”  (Father Fraser in Behind the Wall)

To close, I’d like to repeat that I’m not an expert in the conflict in the Middle East.  The religious-political situation is complex and  cannot be solved over night– if ever.   Neither Islam nor Judaism has a concept of loving forgiveness.  As the Christians flee the Holy Land at an alarming rate, so too does the possibility for peace.

In response to Pope Benedict’s call for peace, Israel’s ambassador to the Vatican said, “The language and the expectations of the Holy Father and the scope of his interests are different from those of a politician.  In practical politics, I’m sure Israel wouldn’t have existed if we would have acted without any force.”

I’d say those politicans should re-examine their expectations and interests.  We’re never going to get anywhere unless world leaders have the same view as Pope Benedict: 

“Once again I would repeat that military options are no solution and that violence, wherever it comes from and whatever form it takes, must be firmly condemned.” (Pope Benedict, 2009 “State of the World” address)

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