Israel cancels settlement expansion plans


 In 1993, I traveled with a seminary group to the Middle East for a three weeks seminar experience.  Two of those weeks were spent in Israel/Palestine—one week with the Israeli people, one week with the Palestinians.  As a seminary group, we had access to high level speakers.  Each student was required to research and prepare a report on the various places we visited.  We talked with individuals within each community … visited settlements and in the homes of Palestinians.  We listened to both sides of the story.  Prior to the trip, we were assigned books to read written by Jews and Palestinians.

What a complicated situation!  What sad stories we heard.  The people—Jews and Palestinians—are caught in a web not of their own making.  Many in each community do not possess first-hand knowledge of what the other community experiences.

Children grow up feeling the need to be cautious and take pre-emptive action to protect themselves.  One day, several of us were walking in East Jerusalem.  A man and small boy were walking toward us.  When the little boy saw us, he picked up a rock and lifted his arm to sling it toward us … his father managed to stop him.

While in Bethlehem, we had to run from the bus to our destination because it was so dangerous to simply walk along the street.  And yet, when we met both Jews and Palestinians one-on-one, we found them just like us … wanting to live in peace and to feel safe.

The settlements have been a tremendous source of conflict.  Sadly, those in power (largely behind the scenes) have subjected the Palestinians to much of the same kinds of treatment the Jews received in Germany (minus the extermination camps).  It isn’t the people who would choose to treat another with such disdain; it is those in power positions who command it.

Now that progress toward peace is beginning to look hopeful, may we all envision this part of the world coming together in mutual respect … recognizing that all are members of the One Family Of Our Mother/Father God!  The people want this … it is the leadership, both overt and covert, that need to allow peace in a world that has known upheaval for far too long.

I consider Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement great news, whatever his real motive!  May it be so!