By: Maya Mineoi (Toledo, OH)
As we prepared to leave Palestine, Rev. Imad Haddad, pastor of Church of Hope in Ramallah, asked us if we would deliver a message of hope or a message of despair to our friends back home. I was struck by his question. I felt the responsibility to convey a message of accountability to the United States of America. Many of the other people we met turned the conversation back to the US. They reminded us that we are complicit in allowing Israeli occupation to continue through allowing human rights and international law violations to go unchecked and by providing defense support to Israel (which ultimately benefits US arms dealers). In addition, my American passport gave me privileged access through the land. It was emotionally draining to see over and over how the Israeli occupation limited Palestinian movement, economic ability and connection to land and to national identity. Although I can’t help but share this part of the equation with people in the States, I will also follow Pr. Haddad’s advice to speak of life and hope in Palestine.
By: Mae Helen Jackson (Chicago, IL)
Writing about an experience that you feel removed from is difficult. Tapping back into those feelings, and having to dig deep to pull yourself out of your current personal tornados… it’s a complicated task.
It is a task that requires me to recall the pain I felt in Hebron. Watching soldiers toy with a young man’s freedom out of boredom, flicking a cigarette at him as if the young man were a bothersome rodent as he begged the soldier to open a recently erected fence; a fence forcing Palestinians to trek far around their community to get to a place a mere two minutes from their housing complexes. It asks that I allow those feelings bubble over again–memories of a country entrenched in a psychological warfare so thick you feel it on your skin. It is anxiety inducing at best.
By: Bahati Mwitula (Chicago, IL)
Bahati standing along the separation/security wall in Bethlehem, Palestine.
When asked about my experience in the Holy Land I say, “the most spiritually, mentally and physically draining experience in my life. And yet, one of the most groundbreaking.”
I have always had an interest in Middle Eastern politics, particularly the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Going there opened my eyes to a world I never thought I would experience. Being able to interact with Israelis and Palestinians was eye opening and allowed me to briefly look at life through their lens. There is only so much you can learn from reading publications, watching the news and documentaries, especially considering bias and advancement of personal agendas. From the day I landed to the day I left, I felt various emotions ranging from anger and disappointment to joy and hope. Immersed in the rich yet complex history, I came back wanting to become involved even more.
By: Corey Holmes, PhD Researcher, Howard University
I must admit, I was uninformed regarding the magnitude of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I knew of Yasser Arafat and his commitment to peace in the Middle East, earning him a share of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994. I also understood that Israel was “holy ground” for God’s people and the place where many citizens go to worship and visit holy sites. After visiting Israel for almost two weeks, it is still a very complex place where some form of all sides hold truth. This post is simply thoughts on my experiences while in Israel meeting with Palestinians, visiting holy sites, and listening to views on this conflict.
The remapping of lines to construct borders is nothing new. During 1884-85, the Berlin Conference in the “Scramble for Africa” divided the African continent among 13 European countries, in the quest for civility and a “Christian way of life”. Imperialism and eventually colonialism was established, and currently Africa is starting to feel the effects of elitism and classism among its diverse populations.
Comparably, the first Prime Minister of Israel, David-Ben Gurion, with the blessing of U.S. President Harry Truman, created the independent sovereign state of Israel in May 1948. A few years prior, the United States was faced with a tough decision due to the potential alliance of the Soviet Union (its starkest enemy at the time), with Arab nations who held most of the world’s oil resources. President Truman wanted the U.S. Department of State to conduct talks with both Jews and Arabs to see if a resolution was possible before intervening. In 1946, President Truman created a special cabinet led by Assistant Secretary of State, Dr. Henry Grady, to oversee the region and conduct negotiations with the British who held economic and political interests in Palestine. The U.S. Department of State recommended the creation of a United Nations trusteeship with limits on Jewish immigration, and the division of Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab provinces, not states. Continue reading