So much has stirred inside of me since my return from Palestine May 17. What a warm welcome I received from friends inside the Old City, Hebron. Even my little "rascal" four boys found me a special seat in their home and served me tea, the special mark of Palestinian hospitality. "Please stay overnight" was a plea I heard daily as I visited old friends and extended continued hope for them in their desire for their freedom as a people.
"Tell the Americans we are not terrorists. We want peace like them" was their answer to our question, "What shall we tell the Americans when we go back?" I felt shame. I felt humbled. I felt weak in expression so many times.
Their "sumud" - steadfastness - in the face of the Israeli occupation which wrecks their daily lives in movement, in predictability, in the services that you and I take for granted, is so admirable to me. I suspect that most of us have never been tested so long, (60 years now), so perniciously, so adversely in exercising our human rights.
Something in me wants to scream with such a huge outcry that it will be heard by all people who usually turn their minds in other directions when they hear about the trouble in Palestine/Israel. Something in me boils when I hear the voices in our American government call Israel's army a "most moral army." I want to ask our government most sincerely and passionately, "Are you deaf to the cries of the dying Palestinian children of Gaza? Are you blind to the children and to the numerous, innocently detained Palestinian prisoners in Israel? Are you so politically compromised that you are now numb in heart to the horrible injustices of home demolitions and land confiscations that the Palestinians have been suffering in this Israeli occupation?"
How I wish that for just a moment, all American citizens - at least all who pay taxes - would look at Israel's record and see how it spends the $3.7 billion we allocate in budget every year to its settlement building, to its military buildup. This is a first-world country we're talking about! Is this the way we Americans want our tax money spent? Are we willing to look at the Israeli practices that have escaped our news media, that have sold the myth that Israel is still the victim needing our financial support and backing and protection?
I trust that if people knew - actually took time to know the narrative of the Palestinians in this Middle East conflict - such flagrant use of power, such disregard for international law by Israel would not be long tolerated by the American people. Movements would begin in every part of every city and state, insisting that our government allocate monies according to our wishes, that our Congress and president speak and act toward Israel the way we presently speak to and act toward any other country abusing power. I trust, too, the American people's moral sense would generate a power stronger than all the low partisanship that has managed to blind our eyes to the real power that exists within each of us.
Please call or write our Congress people - Sen. Sherrod Brown, (202) 224-2315; Sen. Rob Portman, (202) 224-3353; and our U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, (202) 225-2676 - and remind them of their promise to get beyond politics in dealing with the violation of international law by Israel.
I welcome your comments and the opportunity to talk with any group you represent.
Sister Paulette Schroeder is a founder of Project Peace