Breaking down walls

We live in cities you'll never see on screen
Not very pretty, but we sure know how to run things
Living in ruins of the palace within my dreams
And you know we're on each other's team — Lorde, Team

Build­ing walls is some­thing that we humans do well. The Berlin Wall has since long become his­to­ry now, but else­where in the world walls are still dai­ly used to sep­a­rate peo­ple from each oth­er. The wall along the West Bank in Israel is per­haps the most famous exam­ple. This bar­ri­er is intend­ed to pro­tect Israelis against Pales­tin­ian ter­ror­ists. This has pro­found impli­ca­tions for the dai­ly life of the Pales­tini­ans liv­ing in the West Bank.

The wall is also a sym­bol of the seg­re­gat­ed soci­ety in Israel. Nel­son Man­dela has always been very crit­i­cal of the occu­pa­tion, and com­pared the sit­u­a­tion to apartheid. From whichev­er side you look at it, the wall is not pret­ty. But against the flow of pol­i­tics and vio­lence, there are also count­less activ­i­ties in Israel that bring peo­ple together.

Hand in Hand

Schools where Jew­ish and Arab chil­dren of all reli­gions grow up together.

The Israel-Palestine Lorde Diaries

The Israel-Pales­tine Lorde Diaries: An attempt to pro­duce a trib­ute to Lorde with artists from all kinds of backgrounds.

And then there is the King­dom of God. There they want noth­ing to do with all those walls of hos­til­i­ty; Jesus breaks them all down.

For he is our peace: in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has bro­ken down the divid­ing wall, that is, the hos­til­ity between us.

Eph­esians 2, 14

In the book Atone­ment, Jus­tice and Peace, Belousek illus­trates this text with the sto­ry of Elias Cha­cour. He is a leader of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Pales­tine. As a young priest in his first parish he had a tough time with con­flicts between var­i­ous groups of peo­ple. As a good pas­tor, he nat­u­ral­ly tried to rec­on­cile them with each oth­er. But grad­u­al­ly, the hos­til­i­ty start­ed to grown in his own heart. Only when he rec­og­nized this, asked for for­give­ness and in this way killed the hatred in his own soul, he was able to bring the peo­ple in his parish togeth­er. He has been doing this ever since, show­ing us how spir­i­tu­al peace has big con­se­quences for society.

The last words in this blog are for Elias Cha­cour, with an excerpt from a speech that he deliv­ered at an Amer­i­can uni­ver­si­ty in 2001:

You who live in the Unit­ed States, if you are pro-Israel, on behalf of the Pales­tin­ian chil­dren I call unto you: give fur­ther friend­ship to Israel. They need your friend­ship. But stop inter­pret­ing that friend­ship as an auto­mat­ic antipa­thy against me, the Pales­tin­ian who is pay­ing the bill for what oth­ers have done against my beloved Jew­ish broth­ers and sis­ters in the Holo­caust and Auschwitz and elsewhere.

And if you have been enlight­ened enough to take the side of the Pales­tini­ans — oh, bless your hearts — take our sides, because for once you will be on the right side, right? But if tak­ing our side would mean to become one-sided against my Jew­ish broth­ers and sis­ters, back up. We do not need such friend­ship. We need one more com­mon friend. We do not need one more ene­my, for God’s sake.