Stairs. There are so many stairs in Palestine. And when there are no stairs there is rocky, uneven terrain. My poor arthritic back does not like stairs.
I like to see all these stairs as a metaphor, as a sign of struggle. Not just my struggle, but one of structure for the Palestinian people. At times it seems they are almost at the top, only to be pushed back to the very bottom by the oppressive and crushing weight of occupation (And if you don’t know it, it is the government of Israel who are the occupiers.)
On this trip we have heard of the struggles to keep home, land, property and dignity. The struggle to be an independent and sovereign state.
We met Daoud, a farmer whose family has been on their land for over 100 years. They work the land despite being constantly threatened with eviction, despite having water and electricity cut off to them by the Israeli government. They thrive and they survive – but not without great pain.
I think my struggle with this physical pain can’t be compared to that of the Palestinian people. Theirs is a deep, crushing, heart-ripping, soul-killing pain. It is a pain that has been relentless since 1948. Villages destroyed, land confiscated, lives threatened and wrecked.
What is happening to the Palestinian people is sin. It is evil And yet the people continue to crawl up those stairs, step by excruciating step.
I am an eyewitness to the pain and suffering of the people here. But I am also witness to the joy and pleasures of so many weddings, births, baptisms and Bar Mitzvahs. Life goes on.
So my prayer today is that all people here in the unholy Holyland will be able to climb those stairs together and at last find a genuine and lasting peace.
“Happy are those who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times.” (Psalm 100:3)