Rarely does a little peaceful Christian village like Taybeh in the Holy Land go under curfew. In the last two years since Ariel Sharon sparked the Palestinian Uprising, the village has only been under curfew twice and the second time we begged the soldiers to uplift the curfew so we could carry on the planned engagement party that was scheduled at the Greek Catholic Church for a young man named Mohib and his fiancÃ©.
Rarely does a little peaceful Christian village like Taybeh in the Holy Land go under curfew. In the last two years since Ariel Sharon sparked the Palestinian Uprising, the village has only been under curfew twice and the second time we begged the soldiers to uplift the curfew so we could carry on the planned engagement party that was scheduled at the Greek Catholic Church for a young man named Mohib and his fiancÃ©. The soldiers kindly agreed and the curfew was uplifted so a traditional parade took place with clapping and singing from the family home to the church. But even when the village is not directly under curfew, the entrances to the village are technically blocked off by the Israeli army thus you can’t get very far. It is like being a prisoner in an open space. You can imagine there is not much available in a little village in the middle of the wilderness of Judea and Samaria. Sometimes I go to all five little mini markets and can’t find a simple item like yogurt. And you wonder why I would even want yogurt but many traditional Arabic rice meals need to be eaten with yogurt thus the children refuse to eat the main course if they can’t have it with yogurt.
I learned of the curfew because I have been waiting for my airline ticket to be delivered to me from Jerusalem in order to attend the one-day symposium about Christians in the Holy Land scheduled on November 23, 2002 in Chicago. The driver made it all the way to the outskirts of the village but could not enter to deliver the ticket and I could not go to the checkpoint to pick up the ticket. I am stuck at home one more time as the Israeli army jeep patrols Taybeh announcing curfew. A few hours earlier Palestinian militants attacked an Israeli settler on the road right next to the village. House to house searches will be made until someone is found to pay the price for the killing of this Israeli settler. Why do innocent people have to die daily on both sides? Just yesterday, an innocent Palestinian young lady of twenty-one died in her home from an Israeli tank shell. It is most likely that you will never hear about the Palestinian woman having a tragic death but surely the international news will announce that the so called terrorists have attacked the Israeli women and we will see on the evening news a human side to her life story. Does not anyone ask, the Palestinians that die daily, are they not human? Last week twenty-five Palestinians were killed in one week alone, does not any one wonder if any were brothers, fathers, grandfathers, children, infants, do they all wear the label of “terrorists?” A two-year-old child bled to death in his father’s arms shot by the Israeli army, doesn’t anyone in the international community question the definition of terror in this new millennium?
As the bloody violence goes on and the Israeli army bombs and destroys people and places in Palestine and Muslim freedom fighters continue the suicide bombs and attacks on settlers it looks like a hopeless situation. The fanatics on both sides are destroying a life for the regular folks. A whole nation must pay a price for their actions with collective punishment. Christians with their non-violence voice are just stuck between two extremes. Christians do not believe in being martyred for their country. This is sometimes held against them because they are pacifists. It is difficult to be a teenager in Palestine and on top of it to be Christian because you will be the minority and you will have pressure to join the mainstream and fight for your country but how do you respond when Christ says turn the other cheek and love your enemies.
We desperately cry out unto the Lord and ask for a peaceful resolution to a problem since l948. How can the world continue to ignore that Palestinian Christians and Muslims do not have some very basic human rights in the land of their birth and in the land of their forefathers. It is an outright injustice and crime to be treated sub human on a daily basis. Since the president of the United States, the Pope, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia could not get Sharon to stop the occupation let us put our hope and our faith unto Christ our God. Express your solidarity with Palestinian Christians by praying daily for justice to come in the land of Christ’s birth. “I cried unto thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living. Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I.” (Psalm 142)