Archive for January, 2002

Trapped in Hot Discussions

January 9, 2002

By Samia Khoury
Wednesday, January 9, 2002

No matter how much we try to socialize, when we get together with friends or family, we find ourselves trapped in hot discussions about the suffering and endless difficulties of everyday life in the Occupied Territories.

So, one day in the midst of one of those discussions, an American friend of ours was wondering what we would talk about once we were liberated. You have no idea, my dear friends, what we yearn to talk about: nature, poetry, books, art, music. There is so much beauty around us that we fail to see it, or we do not have the time to look around for it. We are so engrossed in our struggle for justice and liberation, or in our analysis of the deteriorating situation.

After months of separation because of the Israeli military checkpoints and barricades, I finally made it to the town of Ramallah to get together with my sister and brother and his wife. I had heard that the checkpoint at Kalandia between our house and Ramallah (a ten-minute drive) had been lifted. Although we had to catch up on a lot of news, and to share photos of children and grandchildren, it did not take us long to get trapped in one of those “hot discussions.” With Mr. [Anthony] Zinni [the U.S. envoy to the Middle East] in the country, we were wondering whether his mission would be just as futile as other previous missions or agreements.

We finally decided to take a break, so the only thing that could distract us was the collection of “Embroidered Flowers of the Palestinian Spring,” published in a beautiful book Spring Is Here which my sister-in-law had arranged and written the text for. She had brought the books to give them to us as Christmas gifts, as we had not met over Christmas. That was when we really started reminiscing about the days when we used to go pick wild flowers, and enjoy nature in the open fields that have turned into closed military zones.

Our joy did not last long as my brother and his wife had to start back to Birzeit. My nephew gave them a lift to the military checkpoint from where they had to walk to the other side, as if they were crossing borders into some foreign country. The joy of being together was soon forgotten and replaced by the agony of this modern Via Dolorosa.

Thank heavens for children who make life so meaningful. When my granddaughter walks into my kitchen with a bunch of flowers from their garden, or when my grandson presents me with one of his drawings, they make my day, and make me forget all about the brutality of the occupation. Yet at the same time, it is for our children that we are struggling for liberation and for an end to the occupation. We want to guarantee a brighter future for the coming generation. We want a meaningful future full of hope and prosperity, where justice and peace will prevail for all the peoples of our region.

“What do you see as a possible resolution?” asked a friend of our school Rawdat El-Zuhur who is writing an article about our work with the children. “Or is this a complicated question?” he asked. Actually I do not think the question is complicated. Neither is our cause complicated. Many people find an easy escape from facing it by calling it complicated. This gives them an excuse for keeping silent about the truth.

Our story is about a people being dispossessed of their country and identity to make room for another people. A simple story that became complicated by the lack of resolve by the international community to redress the grave injustice inflicted upon the dispossessed. In spite of the establishment of the United Nations as a body to guarantee “Justice for All,” it seems that the law of the jungle continues to reign, and power continues to supersede justice and human rights. Those in power give themselves the right to set the rules of the game, irrespective of how many people and how many regions in the world are affected and suffer as a result of the arrogance, greed and injustice inflicted by those powers.

What a sign of hope it was for us when the year ended with a peace march which started from Bethlehem and ended in Jerusalem under the slogans “End the Occupation” and “Open Jerusalem”. With the Latin Patriarch and the bishops of other churches leading the march, it was very meaningful for us to see the Church really involved as one body in the struggle of the people for justice, peace and liberation. After all, our church leaders are committed Christians as well as committed Palestinians, and they cannot remain silent to the pain of their people, or any other people. In their addresses at the end of the march, they were all concerned for the peoples of the whole region. Along with the church leaders, Palestinian Christians and Muslims, Israeli peace groups, and international solidarity groups gathered at the end of the march at St. Anne’s Church courtyard in the Old City of Jerusalem to listen to the reading of the Sermon on the Mount and sing for peace. How appropriate at such a time to reflect on some of the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the peace makers, for they shall be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Could this march at the end of a very distressing year be a good omen that the days of occupation will truly come to an end? Could the challenging passage of the Sermon on the Mount — “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” — challenge us all to fill our hearts with love that will enable us to overcome evil and live in peace? Dare we hope!!