Springtime in Jerusalem - letter from a nun

 The almond tree blossoms, harbinger of springtime here in Palestine/Israel began to bloom last month and now, because of the abundant rains, even the areas of the desert of Judah and the Negev are green with a variety of wild flowers. Small yellow daisies, unaware of the political border restrictions are carpeting areas of the Egyptian northern Sinai right on into this country. Even the heat of the sun is once again felt in the land. It is as though nature is trying to give us some relief from the fears and/or oppression which hold a tight grip on most of the inhabitants here. Since the Israeli's closed off Ramallah and the nearby villages by digging a large trench around the area over a week ago, 200,000 Palestinians are virtually prisoners in their own towns with no entrance or exit through the area. One member of the Israeli Knesset (legislature), Mr Issam Mahoul, said that even the worst regimes would not dare to do what Israel is doing today to the Palestinians -- making concentration camps out of the Arab towns -- and he called on all the people of this land who are concerned about humanitarianism and peace to tear down the closure points, to fill in the deep trenches. His colleague condemned his too timely remarks and the implied comparison of what the Israelis are doing to what the Nazis did to the Jews. But in reality many people here are seeing the situation as just that. One German woman who feels great empathy for the Jews, recently remarked to me: "It seems that what the Jews learned out of the concentration camps was to apply the same procedures to the Palestinians now." More and more people are seeing this comparison as all too real. Unlike the flowers that grace the Negev, the ditches and barricades that the Israeli army has built around population centres, have rendered a whole people isolated from hospitals, schools, and their places of work. But there are humanitarian Israelis here, too. They have called for a lifting of the siege around Ramallah and are planning to take actions against the government and the army in an attempt to fill in the ditches and to bring food and supplies in to Ramallah and the surrounding villages. In the divine scheme of things, good should win out over evil, and peace should reign in this land, as surely as the yellow daisies flourish on both sides of a border that has no meaning to them.

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