The Pope Prays in Bethlehem, Lets Graffiti Do the Talking

Shalom Rav

Pope Francis touches the wall that divides Israel from the West Bank in the West Bank city of Bethlehem

In the wake of Pope Francis’ recent visit to Israel/Palestine, many watchers have commented on his unscheduled visit to the separation wall in Bethlehem – and are already referring to the picture taken there as “iconic.”  It is indeed a powerful image: with the Pope leaning his head against the wall in prayer standing next to a young girl holding a Palestinian flag. Emblazoned across the wall, the graffiti pointedly reads, “Pope, we need some 1 to speak about justice” and “Pope, Bethlehem look like the Warsaw ghetto.”

Though the Pope made many stops at both Palestinian and Israeli sites, it is safe to say that his visit to the wall in Bethlehem will provide the most enduring image of the trip. Here we see the Pope praying at a very different kind of “wall.” While Popes and other religious dignitaries have long visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem as…

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Memorial Day….No More Deaths through War

ImageMemorial Day always creates tension within my soul.  I never want to judge the young men and women who sign up for the service.  On the other hand, I think of their going off with a gun as unacceptable in our day, in our times of greater understanding of the dignity of all human beings–at war or not.  We must always remember those who have died, but we MUST change the national and international scenes to negotiation, mediation, reconciliation, rather than to the use of weapons and torture exercised on each other….THE TIME IS NOW.

Don’t forget the Friday ACTION at Tiffin Courthouse square

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This is a pretty happy picture of Josie–taken in Washington D.C. at the Witness Against Torture Week of Action and Retreat this year–She and I want to remind everyone of the ACTION which will be on behalf of the prisoners still detained in Guantanamo and the many there who are still tortured with forced feeding.  Come to the courthouse square at 4:30 on this Friday May 23, the 1 yr. anniversary of President Obama’s promise to close the facility within the year.  We will lift our voices and signs for justice.  We will have signs but feel free to make one yourself also.

Rally to Close Guantanamo, May 23, Tiffin

Not Another Broken Promise! Not Another Day in Guantanamo! Global Day of Action to Close Guantanamo and End Indefinite Detention

May 23 Gitmo action

May 23, 2014

Local Rally at Courthouse Square, Tiffin, 4:30 – 5:30 pm

On May 23rd of last year, President Obama again promised to close the detention facility at Guantanamo. His pledge came in response to the mass hunger strike by men protesting their indefinite detention and to the renewed, global condemnation of the prison.  One year later, far too little has changed: few detained men have left the prison and hunger strikes and force feeding continues.

Demonstrations will be taking place across the United States and the world to demand that President Obama and the US Congress end indefinite detention and close the prison at Guantanamo.

Please join Tiffin Area Pax Christi and Project Peace  for a spirited demonstration at Courthouse Square, corner of S. Washington and E. Market Sts., Tiffin on Friday, May 23rd at 4:30 pm.

During his May 2013 speech, President Obama asked the American people: “Look at the current situation, where we are force feeding detainees who are being held on a hunger strike . . . Is this who we are?”  Sadly, as we face yet another broken promise, this is who we are — a country that indefinitely detains and brutalizes the men in Guantanamo.

The May 23rd Day of Action is being coordinated by Witness Against Torture in collaboration with Amnesty International, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Code Pink, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Veterans for Peace, World Can’t Wait, Blue Lantern, the Torture Abolition and Survivor Support Coalition, CloseGitmo.net, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, among others.

For more on the Day of Action, go to: www.witnesstorture.org.

Note: If you are in the Toledo area, join NWOPC for their Guantanamo vigil on Sunday May 25, noon-1:30 pm, corner of Talmadge and Sylvania.

Welcome back to our Palestine delegation!

Shehuda street Hebron

Welcome back to our delegation who returned on Saturday!  Review their travel blog on Tumblr at www.tiffinpalestine.tumblr.com

Here are links to a few highlights:

May 12th Lunch at a Bedouin Camp

May 14th  Life on Chicken Street in Hebron

May 15th post by Lindsay Kagy

May 16th Final post by Sr. Paulette  and fellow delegation members

Each member contributed his/her closing memories in their final post below:

The community and hospitality shared by the shopkeepers as they offered welcome, and an invite to come in for a cup of coffee/tea as they shared the details of their arts and crafts. Of course, “we” then contributed to the economy of the area. Many special memories that will last for a lifetime.
(Phyllis)

Despite the impressions one has of Israel coming from the States, we certainly have come away with a new understanding of the injustices perpetrated upon the Palestinian and Bedouin peoples who have had their homes destroyed and confiscated, lands and orchards destroyed or seized—all in the name of preserving the state of Israel at all costs. And who supports this situation?—the United States state department! We certainly need to do our best of spread the “other side of the story” to the American people. (David)

It’s our last day, our last bit of time in this (un)holy land. Amazing and troubling, beautiful and tragic…where do I come in? Which thread am I in the tapestry: along the fringes, in the middle, a loose thread? What about those who must stay here, our lives intertwined for a few brief stitches? What will happen to them once we are safely home? Let’s not keep making the same mistakes of the past with one another. Let’s forge a new vision of us all honoring each other’s humanity, taking care of the environment, and creating a life energy based on love…not fear. We can do it — we must do it! (Lindsay)

I’ll miss it. When I was 17 I drove into Rochester, NY and attended an anti-Apartheid demonstration in Manhattan Square Park. I was very inspired by that struggle, and after Mandela’s release I believed that era was done. It is not. The United States government, through my tax dollars, is supporting what Jimmy Carter has called the new Apartheid. People from South Africa who have come to the West Bank say it is worse here than it was for them in the 80s. We need to call for the end of this blind support. In the end I guess no one is free until we all are. Perhaps some day we all will live under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and never see another regime as this. I’m so grateful Sister Paulette encouraged me to come here. She’s strong. (Matt)

These days in Palestine and Israel are so fresh; I wonder what I will take home with me and keep. Today I think of the wonderful scents of marketplace and mosque. I remember checkpoints and the joyful shrieks of a toddler chasing chickens just outside a checkpoint. Mostly I believe I will remember the warm and welcoming hospitality of the Palestinian people despite their oppression. I have grown to love their mint tea and lemonade. Palestinian food is delcious, so fresh and lovingly prepared and served. I hope I will remember all of their stories so that I may share them in my own world. Goodbye, Palestine. All the best to you. (Mary)

I’m the last on this blog, and I’m so grateful to Phyllis, to Lindsay, to Matt, to David and to Mary for the wonderful resilience and patience with my oversights and for their willing insertion into this narrative of the Palestinians. I have enjoyed each of them and I hope their strong voices on behalf of justice and freedom in this part of the world will influence many people to similarly raise their voices.
How good it has been for me to again meet friends, especially the children who delight me with their hugs and kisses and their “Bullet” (they have no “p” in their alphabet), and they give me great hope even though they experience so much abuse of human rights in their short lives. I’m intrigued that my 5 feisty little “rascals” acted like like princes this time with my visit. It baffles me that “pesky” Islam found a wife and was married yesterday. I love it that Mohammed’s little Abed has a smile as wide as his face. And… toddler Rafad’s eyes are as large and bright as a healthy cow’s.
I’m positive that this trip’s expenses and time it took in recruiting were all worth while, that the memories of the people will continue to live on in these travelers with me. I wish with all my heart that the Palestinians would be FREE by next year, but nevertheless, I shall come back with another willing group of people who want to help the cause if possible.
We ended our visit by going to Lifta, one of the Palestinian villages destroyed in the Nakba in 1948. Mohammed, our guide wanted us to see as much of the country and of the situation as possible. The way these folks had to leave all, give up all, continue to hope fires me up to continue on—-no matter what. My love, (Paulette)

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Mohammed, my friend, and his little child Abed

In visiting Hebron, I automatically went to my friend Abed and his family directly in front of the Ibrahimi Mosque which is such a place of contention. The Israeli authorities want that entire area very much to connect all the settlements in Hebron. But in the midst of all the oppressive measures of Israel toward the Palestinians, this child is born–the grandson of Abed and Reema. (who by the way served us a wonderful meal.) This little kid’s smile was as wide as his face. Paulette

More posts from the Project Peace delegation to Palestine

The delegation is sending some beautiful posts full of marvelous photos from their travels in the West Bank.  You may view their posts at their Tumblr blog sitewww.tiffinpalestine.tumblr.com   We encourage you to check their site periodically in the coming days.  They’ll return on May 17.

Matt tells us:

“The faces of the Occupation. Everywhere we have gone in the West Bank, Palestinians have taken us into their homes, fed us, and made us laugh and cry. The experience has been moving.
“God gave us eyes to see the truth,” Amal told us over mint tea infused with sage from the Tent of Nations, above Bethlehem. When asked the solution to Palestinian/Israeli problems, Sami told us that we must begin with ourselves—what is within us, and why can’t peace start with the personal experience? Incredible lesson from the Intifada, incursions, and checkpoints. Everyone we have met has said the same—we are not out for revenge, we just want to live.”

Project Peace delegation arrives in Jerusalem

Jerusalem

The Project Peace delegation led by Sr. Paulette  has arrived in Jerusalem!  Two members, Matt and Mary, are writing a travel blog at www.tiffinpalestine.tumblr.com 

Here is today’s post:

Wednesday, 9 p.m., Jerusalem. After a few hours of not knowing whether our Columbus-Newark flight was going to leave on time, we made it to Newark, boarded, and made it safely to Jerusalem. A couple of photos here indicate we are not in Ohio—tonight we had our first dinner together near the Damascus Gate of falafel, hummus, and desserts.

Wrapping up tonight many in the group noted how different and exotic the surroundings appear—from the call to prayer to absence of dogs. Strangely, we are expecting a very rare thunderstorm-in-May event tonight. Tomorrow, to the Tent of Nations and then on to Bethlehem. After 35 hours of travel, to bed.

Tuesday our group of 6 will be leaving Ohio for Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Hebron to explore, serve, grow, and learn.  Thanks for visiting, and until Wednesday, peace.

To receive our Project Peace delegation’s posts through the Project Peace blog, click on “Follow” at the top of the right hand column on this page.  You will receive an email message each time a new post is added to this site.  (Josie is posting each of the group’s travel posts here.)

Alternatively, you may go directly to the travel blog site at www.tiffinpalestine.tumblr.com and check it daily.