Sunday, April 04, 2010

Easter - Jerusalem - etc.

Today is Easter. I am Jewish. In my past life Easter has had meanings limited to trivia – such as having commercially bought Easter chocolate eggs given by others. Pesach – Passover proximate to Easter always carried whatever feelings I had in my past life.

Today I watched several episodes of the You Tube videos: “Sleepless in Gaza and Jerusalem” (particularly episodes 34A and B) which showed Christian (including Greek Orthodox) attempts at prayers in Jerusalem, the West Bank and finally Gaza from yesterday.

Today I saw much which made me both sad and angry, as well as appreciative of how the spirits of people can continue while they are visibly oppressed by others.

In all the locations I saw Christians, a minority of the Palestinian community, trying to pray and appreciate their historic religious traditions.

In Jerusalem (particularly) the senseless harassment of religious people was most vivid! Christian people were unable to come from the West Bank to pray for Easter because they were “not Israeli citizens” (hardly an acceptance and tolerance of non-Jews).

Yesterday I had seen a Greek Orthodox service from Friday which was beautiful.

Today (yesterday when filmed) the host initially was unable to enter the Old City (of Jerusalem) through the New Gate because it was blocked by Israeli soldiers. She continued in her efforts to get to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a most important site in the history of Christianity. Hundreds of people were waiting and waiting and waiting for the gate to (hopefully) be opened.

The host successfully entered the Damascus Gate, but again her way was blocked as it was to all (who didn’t reside in the blocked area). She continued to try a third way of getting to the area of the Church and it too was blocked. Then a scout band came to the blocked spot. The Israeli authorities let the band go through, also letting the host and her camera person enter.

The host then witnessed the procession from the Church as she had hoped to do.

The other people shown on camera were routinely kept out of the area of the church, regardless of any mitigating factors. There were no stones, no angry words or yelling, no gatherings of young boys or youths who were “threatening”.

On the “other side” (where she was let in) the people were no different from those who were kept out (except those inside had arrived earlier). There was no “security screening” or other such actions.

This was simply (religious) harassment of Palestinians (who were harassed because they are Palestinians) as well as affecting some other pilgrims from outside.

It is obvious that Israeli leadership wants Jerusalem to be “Jewish” which it is not. Jerusalem is both Israeli and Palestinian as well as Jewish, Moslem, Catholic and Greek Orthodox (and other smaller religions).

It seems obvious to me that what has happened recently in the Old City of Jerusalem is a perfect example as to Why any lasting peace settlement can Not simply have Jerusalem as an Israeli (Jewish) City. The “benevolent” (current) leadership will not fairly oversee the needs of the non-Jewish faiths that are also in the Old City. There is no intifada. There is no major unrest.

Where unrest does occur it generally is instigated by Israelis or is in reaction to harsh, unfair measures of the Israelis.

It is unfortunate, but true, that Israel has become “the oppressor”. I can no longer say that it is “radicals” on both sides that prevents peace. That might have been true several decades ago.

I hope that things will change for the better! I can’t imagine this happening until the growing international movements seeking divestment and boycotts of Israel grow. I can’t imagine this happening until the U.S. Government becomes a real mediator, and not a cheerleader for the Israeli Government, occasionally slapping Israel’s hands.

Peace is possible! It isn’t easy and it won’t be easy! Thanks!

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