“The LORD determined to tear down the wall around Daughter Zion…”
I took a run around my campus yesterday. A bit harder than expected (I’m choosing blame it on the hills instead of my current lack of exercise haha). But it was an incredible yet conflicted view from Mount Scopus, or “Mountain of Scouts”. On the one side of campus lay parks overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem, with the Dome of the Rock mosque clearly visible. As I rounded the corner of my campus, the Mount of Olives came into view, and then the Jordan Valley, Dead Sea, and mountains of the nation of Jordan. Again, the physical intimacy of Israel came to mind.
But as I continued on, I came to a less pleasant overlook. On the other side of metal fences lay a Palestinian town. My campus lies on a hill, and a short distance down lay a garbage dump, then below that some shacks of some Bedouins, who I could see leading their ragged bands of goats to feed on whatever plants managed to eke out an existence on the barren hill. Then lay the houses, some directly below the garbage dump. While I’ve never been in a truly impoverished nation personally (parts of Newburgh come close), what I could see reminded me of ones I’ve seen in movies like City of God: dirty houses, children playing by throwing rocks at each other.
|Palestinian village, seen from Mount Scopus my university. You can clearly see the Separation Wall.|
Now, poverty’s an awful thing, no matter where it is found. And I’m not sure what’s worse: poverty due to negligence, or to an active persecution. Both are evil, it’s just one is more visible than the other. In Israel, it’s more on the visible end. Palestinians get yellow license plates on their cars; Israelis get white ones. If a Palestinian can manage to get a blue sticker, West Jerusalem (and the rest of Israel) then becomes accessible—otherwise they are forbidden to enter. But Nick tells me that Israel is tightening the noose on East Jerusalem’s remaining Arabs, and making unreasonable laws that take away the blue stickers (such as not living in Jerusalem enough days out of the year, etc.). So the divide between the empowered and disempowered is especially stark, because the barebed wire fences and Uzis are right there to see. (I gotta admit it’s really, really cool to see soldiers with Uzis and M-16s and AK-47s just walking the streets.)
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Just hours after seeing all that, I went to a community Shabbat (Sabbath) dinner, in which were crammed nearly 80 people in a room that could only fit about 40 comfortably. I literally could not back my chair up to stand up for the prayers (really nobody could). The rabbi’s little sermon took note of this fact, and compared it to when all two million ancient Jews would cram into Jerusalem for feasts at the Temple. He said, “How could they all fit in such a tiny space? But there’s always enough room where there’s enough love.”
There’s not enough love in Israel or Palestine. Until there is, there will never be room for everyone.