On What Common Ground Do We Stand?

Hazel & Holly

When Hazel was two she was fascinated with my old cat, Ocelot. She would prance into the living room, her feet 2 boulders rolling along. Ocelot would get up out of slumber and slink out the back door. Hazel would spend an hour looking under the bed, beneath the recycling bin, and anywhere to find the cat, who was avoiding the flailing child like a pestilence. One glimpse of the cat furtively escaping down the stairs, would give Hazel a boost of energy to find the cat’s hiding place.

I feel confused why Peace evades us. I’ve been looking at the peace in the Middle East, and it’s a thicket of vines. I understand the history, but still I’m baffled as to why peace doesn’t grow. It’s tough when most of the world recognizes the odious killings in Syria, but it’s also beyond the pale that Zionist settlers destroy the homes, schools and hospitals of Palestinians. Israel has been building new towns and the separation wall for decades. Every country knows it. We in the US let it happen.

Yes, we are angry at the gross military support bolstering Israel. Yes, the current exchange of rockets and killings saddens us. I will be traveling on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with Jonathan, and our mission is one of understanding, peace and compassion. We leave Monday 11/19 and return Dec 5th, traveling to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron and Ramallah. Our visit to the Negev desert to stay with some Bedouins may be canceled due to recent attacks.

Jerusalem is a mystical word.  the world clamors for a new Jerusalem, a citadel of love and a symbol of God’s presence among us. It’s more than exciting to take this trip. Mostly because I’ve heard David’s mellifluous psalms since I was a child. I think of Soloman’s Temple, the wedding of Canaan, the palm tree where Deborah held court; Jesus healing Syro-Phoenicians, the smell of the olive harvest; the strength of Joshua at Jericho, night skies speckled with stars. This land holds mythical stories for us all. Ever since the Babylonian exile, through the Middle Ages and through the British Balfour Agreement, the west has dangled a promise for a Jewish homeland. Don’t we all long for a homeland, a place where our people hail from? Jews, Muslims, Christians all share this land. Our homes are safe places where we are told to invite the stranger into the center of our hearths. The 3 religions relate to each other like a triple clove hitch  knot.

Israelis and Palestinians are convinced that negotiations are the way to reach peace. 77% of Israelis and 71% of Palestinians find a negotiated peace to be either “essential” or “desirable” according to a poll by OneVoice in 2009. Who wouldn’t want children to grow up without check points and fear of snipers and suicide bombers. Wouldn’t we want our children to be in school worrying about the next math quiz instead of whether their home will be demolished?  Can we all pitch in more, discuss the problem, and compassionately reach a solution without guns. For there is one Unity with God.

This unity embraces peace and justice for us all. I’m OK that Hazel spends hours searching for a cat. Even if we just get glimpses of our dream, it’s worth chasing it. May we all have the persistence of a two year old as we reach for peace in the Middle East. I know that this dream is possible. It’s been promised.