Wednesday, December 05, 2007

If Everyone Could Just Wake Up a Little

Greetings from Tiberias. I am happy to say that I'm sitting out on a balcony, overlooking the Sea of Galilee on a bright, sunny day. It's a nice switch from the colder, cloudy Jerusalem climate. I just finished my tea with mint and am settling in to put down some thoughts on 'paper.'

The hotel I stay at has now got wireless internet in the lobby (and luckily outside on the balcony as well.) I'm told that next time I come they will have it in the rooms as well. They are also remodeling the entire place! I've been coming here for 9 years, so it will be interesting to see the changes.

I had an interesting conversation with one of the hotel employees (Jewish Israeli) last night. It was accomplished partly through Steve as a translator, since he mostly spoke Hebrew. He's a nice guy and we've come to know him a bit over the years we've been coming here. He was asking about me and my work. Steve was explaining most of it in Hebrew. Our friend kept impressing upon me that I needed to learn Hebrew. I told him it was very difficult. I told him I'm also interested in learning Arabic and Russian. He become very focused on my interest in Arabic. He kept asking me why? He seemed troubled by it somehow, which of course, troubled me! As Steve told him more about what I do, he seemed to relax and communicated that he thought I was a nice person. It will be interesting to see how this conversation evolves. I do try to keep an open mind and not immediately close myself off to people even if they express ideas early on that give me pause for thought. If we insulate ourselves from people who hold opinions that are, in our opinion, unhealthy or incorrect, there is no opportunity to help them look at things differently.

Steve received an email from a dear dear friend of his the other day. We were both impressed that this young Jewish Israeli man sent out an email to all his friends asking them to take action to curtail environmental damage that is being created by the 'security fence' (the wall). He could have stopped there and made his point, but instead he added a comment that said he would go to his grave regretting that he didn't do something to try and stop the wall. Then he said that no matter what one's opinion of the wall is, there is great environmental damage being done and it should be addressed.

We both agreed that adding the statement about his regret was a very courageous thing to do. It is probably not an opinion shared by many in his community. It was unnecessary within the context of urging people to take action on behalf of the environment. I was very impressed and it gave me hope that people will eventually come to the realization that the wall is a horrible, oppressive and misguided strategy. If everyone who disagreed with it spoke up, there would be many more voices raised in opposition. If more people could see its horrific consequences for those being 'walled out' there would be even more outrage.

Here is an interesting CNN article about the wall, Artists draw attention to Bethlehem and the affect that it is having on the holy city of Bethlehem, which is the traditional birthplace of Jesus. Very sad indeed, and the end result is that tourists are having trouble getting in, which not only makes it more difficult for them the opportunity to visit this holy site, but also denies the world from seeing the devastation to human life and dignity that is being perpetrated by the wall.

If you don't know much about this wall, I urge you to learn more about it. I find it simply unbelievable that in this day and age, the world would allow this to be happening anywhere.

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