In such a sacred place where Christ established our Christian roots it certainly takes your breath away to see death all around you and a total escalation of violence and broken promises of peace.
Dr. Maria C. Khoury
In such a sacred place where Christ established our Christian roots it certainly takes your breath away to see death all around you and a total escalation of violence and broken promises of peace. Muslims, Christians and Jews can not seem to share a land that is precious to all three groups. The fear and the unknowing of what will happen day to day, tear up my soul the most. The “shootings and the bombings” are just what most people consider “rain” in other parts of the world. You wait until it goes away and go out again. Three months of peaceful vacation and no Israeli checkpoints fooled me into thinking I can escape to middle class America. It’s good I have wise children because they said if everyone was like me there will be no Palestinians left in Palestine. I must admit, I was totally shocked that they rather stay two hours at a checkpoint going to school in their own country near their extended family rather than become part of the melting pot of America. Of course, if we did not have this severe closure and blockade, this two-hour checkpoint aimed at taking away your human dignity and humiliating you to the maximum degree would instead be a ten minute ride to school on the beautiful hills and country side of the West Bank.
“Checkpoint” actually means very little to people that have not seen the daily suffering and agony of the Palestinian people trying to go to work and school. For me, it is a very loaded word because these checkpoints make my life miserable and I see them as depriving people of a basic right to just earn their daily bread and children’s basic right to receive education. One of our first grade teachers, Ms. Luma Khalak in the Latin Birzeit Patriarchate School travels from Beit Hanina near Jerusalem where she lives through two checkpoints to make it to the Birzeit school. A twenty-minute ride turns into a three-hour nightmare. Luma said to me: “It’s a sacred mission to stay here. It’s my duty. If every person will think it’s horrible and we must leave, who will stay? Somebody has to decide to stay and help this country and develop this country…Jesus, our Lord and Savior came to this land. He suffered here and was crucified…two thousand years of wars, dead people, injuries…and I am waiting for the word ‘holy’ to come true…we will hope…we will pray…God gave me this mission to stay in this country.” Working with such loyal and dedicated human beings should eventually help me stop thinking of running away. Not to mention they inspire and strength my faith. However, young adults like Luma are deprived of everything that others take for granted all around the world. They are adults but are forbidden to live, there is no social life. They can not celebrate birthdays, take trips, go to conferences, and visit family. All activities are cancelled. They suffer just to make it to work, go home and close the door until the routine starts again the next day with those awful checkpoints. Checkpoints make normal people go into a rage.
Returning to Palestine meant a return to fear and anxiety for me. Returning to a place where American money and American weapons have destroyed the Holy Land. Returning to a place where millions of Palestinians want their basic human rights deprived by Israel since l948. Returning to a place where fear and the Grace of God accompany you unceasingly. Returning to a place where some people have not worked for over ten months. Returning to a place where martyrs, killings and daily funerals have not brought freedom and independence to Palestine. Returning to a place where the price to maintain Christian roots and Palestinian identity is far too high to pay. Returning Palestine as our homeland is the answer to peace in the Middle East.