Sophia's Peace Work

Friday, July 15, 2005

The Mother of All Problems

Since most of my work is concerned with Iraq, some people might lose patience with all my posts concerning the situation in Israel/Palestine. Alot of people are, I think, secretly tired of hearing about the situation there. We have all lived with it (vicariously atleast ... for most of us don't have a clue about what it's really like to live under such conditions) for most of our lives and we all probably consider it as intractable as the weather. Something that just is and we have to put up with it.

I continue to include posts coming from the Christian Peacemaker Team in the southern West Bank because they are a window into the biggest problem facing us. There will be no peace in the Middle East until this is resolved and if there is no peace in the Middle East than we don't have a hope in hell of solving the problem with terrorism and unrest in the world. All this talk of fighting terrorism in Iraq is just foolishness and wasted money if we continue to be unwilling to use the simple, God-given tools of diplomacy to solve this problem.

I was once in a Boston taxi cab with my current boss (an Iraqi-born U.S. citizen) when the driver asked him, "So what is the problem with the Middle East?" My boss, who has dedicated his life over the last decade to restoring the Iraqi Marshlands and who is steeped in all the problems of Iraq at present, said, "The conflict in Isreal/Palestine is the main problem in the Middle East."

So I'll continue to post and spread these stories until people get sick enough about it to do something about it. This one is from Peggy Gish, who is currently waiting here in Amman for a flight into Baghdad (the airport has been closed because of dust storms and likely security problems).

Hebron: Sharing Each Others' Pain By Peggy Gish

"A donkey was stolen by an Israeli settler from the Karmel settlement and we saw it inside the settlement compound. Please come with us to photograph it for evidence when we make our complaint." two Palestinians asked the CPT and Operation Dove team in the South Hebron Hills village of At-Tuwani.

Two days after an Israeli soldier and a settler told a Palestinian family they were not allowed to use their land either for their sheep or for raising vegetable crops, team members watched nearby while three Palestinian children continued to let their flocks graze.

Another day, the team videotaped Israeli settlers combining and hauling away wheat planted by a Palestinian family on their land, while Israeli soldiers watched and did nothing to stop them.

By mid-June an unofficial tally counted at least 57 adult and 46 young sheep and goats from the villages of At-Tuwani and Mufakara that have died from poison Israeli settlers spread on Palestinian grazing land in March and April of 2005.

As I leave the West Bank tomorrow to return to work with the CPT team in Iraq, I can't help but think of the differences and similarities between life under occupation in both places. In Iraq there is an inadequate supply of medical equipment and medicines, while in the West Bank, the people are blocked when they try to reach clinics or hospitals. In the West Bank the water is allocated in an unfair proportion favoring Israeli Jews. In Iraq, the available water is mostly impure. In Iraq there isn't the overt confiscating of the homes and land, but their economy is hurt by U.S.
economic policies that allow for systematic takeover of natural resources and exploitation by international corporations.

Palestinian families in At-Tuwani tell us, "Yes, we have our problems but the problems in Iraq are much greater." In turn, Iraqis have told me, "The Palestinian occupation is the 'mother of all problems,' and needs to be resolved in order to have peace in the whole region." I am impressed by the ability of the Iraqi and Palestinian people and many other compassionate people around the world to look beyond their own troubles and be able to care for the sufferings of others. In both places we are encouraged by organizations and individuals who are taking significant personal risks to work nonviolently to deal with the problems they face.

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