I didn't blog yesterday because I was feeling defeated. Tonight, I've engaged most every procrastination practice in my toolbox because I am even more at a loss today and do not know how to articulate it. So, fair warning: this post will be an unknown length, and will follow a meandering path.
On Tuesday, we traveled from Tiberias to Jerusalem with just a few stops along the way. We began the morning at Mt. Arbel, atop which there were two different teachings with good food for thought. As you'll see in the picture below, I found a good lookout spot and soaked it all in. From there, we moved to Nazareth where we had a delicious lunch (we got to choose between the falafel and the schwarma--I had the schwarma and it was DELICIOUS), before going to the Basilica of the Anunciation. The Basilica sits atop some ruins that are believed to indicate where the angel Gabriel visited Mary to foretell the birth of Christ; though said ruins are inaccessible to the visiting public, they are somewhat visible and interesting to see. The church is filled with works of art and icons, most of which are also beautiful. St. Joseph's church is also on the grounds built over ruins believed to be his workshop. Again, a lot of icons, sculptures, and art, as well as visible, though not explorable, ruins. After a stop for a special dessert (Knafeh--look it up, yummmmm!), we made our way to our final hotel of the trip, The Golden Walls in Jerusalem.
The tide fully changed with the first speaker, Sahar Vardi, who visited our group Tuesday night. She is an Israeli activist against the occupation who shared with us her own personal story and her perspective on the occupation. Her courage and conviction is inspiring; her lack of hope for change is unsettling. There was a shift during Sahar's time with us, within me, and I think within others in my group as well. Suddenly, words like indoctrination, apartheid, and oppression took on deeper and less abstract meaning. And that hopeless feeling? When you can hear the truth in words like, 'change can only come from the oppressed', you can understand hopelessness; after all, thanks to the tactics of the oppressors, the oppressed have no means by which to accomplish sufficient change.
Especially when our own U.S. government not only stays silent, but sends the arms.
Building on the conversation with Sahar from last night, we started Wednesday learning from the founders of Military Court Watch (MCW) before going to the court to witness a few of the hearings. Please, please, please take a few moments to click through to the link provided for this organization.
It is all still too raw for me to write up a big post, so for now I'll just say this: children are being traumatized, ripped from their homes with little to no explanation or paper, coerced into 'confession', parents are fined, mistrust is created and is successful in creating discord.
Discord prevents resistance.
Witnessing a hearing was beyond heartbreaking; I don't know the last time I felt so helpless. What amplifies it even more is that the occupation and all it entails, including incarcerating children for any known or perceived infraction, is guided by this belief that they have a God given right to the land. No questions. No discussion. No matter that the persecuted have become the persecutors.
One in our group asked the founders of MCW if they have hope for change and, if so, what gives them that hope. In agreement, they said us coming to witness, to hear the truth of what is happening, is their hope. There are layer upon layer of hiding places, including countries who know the truth but do nothing about it, so it takes people willing to learn, spread the truth, and act to effect change. So, my readers, I implore you to use the MCW link, as well as Breaking the Silence (an organization comprised of former Israeli soldiers), and get educated. Then, start talking to you government officials and let them know how you feel.
It's been a day. LOTS of tears, grief, pain, helplessness. Knowing that this is going out and others can begin looking into these two organizations does help. Hold tight to the fact, though, that the U.S. is not all that different in the way certain people groups have been, or are, treated today.
That's all I have in me at this point. We'll see what tomorrow brings!