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Saturday, October 29, 2016
A White Father reports from The Holy Land
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 This morning, while reading some articles on the present situation in the Holy Land, I was shaken by a huge blast. What felt like a bomb exploding, was in fact a jetfighter of the Israeli Army passing over Jerusalem and breaking the sound barrier. Many other planes have being passing over Jerusalem this morning. This constant intimidation by the Israeli Air Force of the local population by displaying its power makes me sick. The same is true when we hear the helicopters of the same Israeli Air Force headed for the Palestinian localities, or when we hear the bombing over Beit Jala, Bethlehem, and Beit Sahour. In those cases my question is always the same: how many people today will cry over their dead parents or wounded children? It's another day in the so -called Holy Land, it will be another day of humiliation and violence for the Palestinian people. Their suffering no longer make the news; we are slowly entering into the circle of modern silent war, with its daily load of violations of the basic human rights of people. Every day I hear new stories of people being humiliated at the numerous checkpoints installed by the Israeli Defence Force. By the way, two more jetfighters just passed over our heads! Though being a very strong supporter of Palestine, I came to realise that there are in Israel and abroad Jewish people who sincerely desire peace with the Palestinian people. I therefore started to advocate among the different Palestinian people I met, that such people exist in the Jewish communities, taking the example of movements like Gush Shalom, Betselem, the International Committee against House demolitions, and many others. The Palestinian people I met were receptive to this message, and could concede that such people existed and that they were really friends of a just and comprehensive peace. Unfortunately, the politics of the present Israeli government, and the daily oppression of the Palestinian population, are destroying this work that some of us are trying to do. The recent declaration of the so-called spiritual leader of the Shas community has been a terrible blow for the building of a mutual acceptance. Some Palestinians told me: "Here you see, this is how the Israelis really think about us". I can of course object that these words were those of a fanatical old man, but this is not the way they are received or heard by the Palestinian people, especially when they are sitting on the rubble of their recently destroyed house. I don't believe that the words of Rabbi Yosef Ovadia represent the major public opinion in Israel, and thanks to some voices such as Amira Hass's, Israel Shamir's, and others like them. Thanks to the actions taken by groups like Gush Shalom in collaboration with some Palestinian movements to remove the road blocks around some Palestinian localities, or others such as the International Committee Against House Demolition, which try to stop the destruction of Palestinian houses, I can still believe that there are people in Israel who genuinely desire peace based on Justice. Nevertheless, being confronted day after day with the suffering of the Palestinian people, it is very difficult to still hold that those voices among Israelis who want peace will make any difference. The majority of the Israeli population are 'bewitched' by the fear of the Arabs, which has been carefully cultivated by their own authorities. Let us not forget that one chooses and makes one's own enemies! If you are convinced that you are victimised, any kind of self-defence is therefore justified, and you can't see yourself doing any wrong, for 'Justice is on your side!' Using this victimisation principle, and keeping it consciously alive as a protecting shield, the Israeli population cannot consider itself doing any evil; the vast majority sees itself as the eternal victim of an anti-semite world. Israelis cannot see themselves as evildoers. Israel Shamir in a recent article called 'The Third Dove', goes even further than I, suggesting that many Jewish people consider the goyim nearly as animals sharing little with the beautiful Jewish humankind. I don't accept that the majority of Jewish people believe this, though I know that some do. This will always remain a mystery for me: how is it possible that Israelis who count in their ranks brilliant people, intellectuals, doctors, professors, engineers, writers, poets, artists, have accepted to be ruled by such a government, which is headed by a war criminal? PM Sharon recently stated that he will never remove the settlements from the West Bank and Gaza, when everybody knows that it is one of the main obstacles to a just and lasting peace. This is really an irresponsible declaration. Fear does not excuse everything! I think that many Israelis have grown sick and tired of Israeli politics, and have resigned their political duties, leaving a free hand to all the different sorts of extremism, which rule today Israel. If people really want peace, it is time for them to regain what belongs to them, their right to choose peace and justice for their children. No international community, no foreign power can bring a just and lasting peace to the two peoples of this land, except themselves, for the very reason that lukewarm politicians are heading the International Community as well as the Arab world. Unfortunately, as long as the silent majority of Israelis who desire peace will look passively at the many horrors that their government is doing to the Palestinian population, nothing will change. As long also as the Palestinians do not change their strategies, and continue to answer to the Israeli's violence by violence, nothing will change. It is high time for Israelis to ask Sharon's government to stop bombing or bulldozing the houses of innocent Palestinian civilians; it is high time to ask to stop this inhuman closure that is imposed on a nearly suffocating people which prevents them from earning a living for their family. It is high time to ask the army to stop its constant humiliation of people at the checkpoints by beating, insults, public humiliations under the eyes of children; refusing them access to medical care and education. It is high time to ask the settlers to go back to Israel inside its 1967 borders. It is high time for the Palestinian people to show to the whole world the justice of their cause by using peaceful means of resistance. The present policy of the Israeli government implemented is in fact the one called upon by Rabbi Yosef Ovadia, and Sharon's government, one of humiliation and destruction of a 'subhuman race'. I don't know how much longer both, the Palestinian and the Israeli population, will accept the kind of policies being done in their name, but I hope not any longer. It is time for the Israeli and the Palestinian populations to understand that their future will be built together or will not be. Only then shall we be able to say: 'Peace on Jerusalem'. Fr Stephane Joulain PO BOX 19079 91190 JERUSALEM
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