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Destruction and Rebuilding in Israel/Palestine: a friend blogging from the Middle East

July 19th, 2006 by isaac · 2 Comments

The Middle East seems to head further and further into the dark abyss of violence and death. As the world-wide media turns our eyes to the fire and smoke at the border of Lebanon and Israel, one of my friends continues his humble efforts at bearing witness to resurrection in the West Bank. Bruce Fisk, a New Testament professor at Westmont College, is keeping a blog of his trip to Palestine to rebuild houses with Israeli Committee Against House Demolition. The blog is called Crossings: Stories from the edges of Israel-Palestine. Below are some highlights from his blog.

In one of his most recent posts, Bruce contrasts the form of peaceful resistance against Israeli destruction by rebuiling a home, with violent resistance of the nearby Palestinian children who respond to the provocation of Israeli police (click here to read the whole post):

And so it goes. We resist in our way, by re-building a demolished house, and they in theirs. Not all forms of resistance are acceptable to me. I see no tangible benefit from rock throwing and other forms of violence, and no moral justification, but I’m increasingly convinced that the Occupation these Palestinians are resisting, with all its layers, dimensions and complexities, must indeed be resisted. And so, back to work.

In another post Bruce laments the never ending spiral of violence in Palestine, where provocation and retaliation drive the people “one more step toward the abyss” (you can read the whole post here):
The numbers I’ve seen suggest that some 1,000 rockets over roughly five years have been responsible for about fifty injuries and a total of eleven Israeli deaths (including, tragically, several young children). Call it provocation. Escalation. Retaliation. Retribution. I call it one more step toward the abyss. And one less reason to be hopeful.

Here are excerpts from some of his other posts:
So troops are deploying, bullets are flying and people (mostly Palestinian) are dying. Meanwhile, I’m spending a quiet day in the Old City attempting to trace the route of another victim of another occupation, another figure targeted for execution for potential insurgency. My goal for yesterday was to trace the physical path the King of the Jews followed, from garden arrest to praetorium trial to Golgotha execution.

The air in the city [of Nablus] pulses with the passion to resist, with the honor-bound need to strike back even if Israel’s awesome firepower means several Palestinians die (unreported in the Western media) nightly. Posters of “martyrs” and shrines for the fallen herald the nobility of the cause. Poverty and humiliation fan flames of resentment. Corporate solidarity and Arab fraternity mean one man’s pain is shared by all. (look here for the whole post)

And we can’t forget the children, those who learn the lessons of violence and who may carry on our destructive tradition:
I pray this passion for violence won’t be passed on to the young children in the school grounds and community centers I visited today. But everything I’ve just seen – provocation, hatred on both sides, disdain, despair, fraternal solidarity, legitimate grievance, unreasonable expectation – everything suggests otherwise.

Tags: theology

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Brooke // Jul 21, 2006 at 8:35 am

    Thanks for pointing me to Bruce’s blog, Isaac. I need lots of help these days in thinking Christianly about what I am hearing, usually via the media, about these things. I find it very difficult to attempt to truly listen to the gravity of the situation as both sides see it, and to resist despair at the same time. I need the honest words and witness of people like Bruce, acknowledging the seeming hopelessness but fighting against it in acts of resistance and persistent faith in the resurrection.

  • 2 isaac // Jul 29, 2006 at 4:39 am

    I’m always glad to see you comment on the site. I’m also glad I pointed you toward Bruce’s site. He’s a great guy. If you get a chance, check out a sermon I preached a few weeks ago. I try to deal with suffering and hope in reference to the story of John the Baptist’s beheading: Silent Victims