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04 June 2011

Partial, Unfair and Imbalanced

Impartial, fair and balanced. Objective. Trustworthy. The claims of professional opinion-makers. None of them live up to them. None of the rest of us do either.
Today I proclaim that I am partial, unfair and imbalanced. I have my own perspective. Mine. It may not be yours. But it and I am trustworthy. I am speaking for myself.
I had a particularly hard time claiming my voice today. I am in Israel and found myself struggling to name the Israeli occupation, even when I could see the wall from my roof, cutting farmers off from their olive trees, strategically isolated on the Israeli side, along with the settlement road, designed to bypass Arab villages - there are no on or off ramps.
I was afraid of being called an anti-Semite, a Nazi, a supporter of holocaust ideology. That is the level of rhetoric some - and only some, but with loud voices and media access - American Jews and Israelis use to assault critics of the state of Israel. I'm writing a public blog with my name and face and my employer's name and I am oh-so-careful that I not draw heated and hated scrutiny.
And I have been anxious. Anxious about my encounters with religious Israelis here and Jewish friends at home for whom the welfare of the state of Israel and it policies are tender issues.
I have also felt pressure - internally - to couch each critique in a narrative that at least places equal blame on the Palestinians for the necessity of the wall and/or recounts the sufferings of the Israelis through and as a result of the many bombing campaigns and Intifadas.
But I don't want to make a carefully nuanced hopefully politically acceptable statement. I just want to say how I feel. I saw the wall today and it took my breath away - all those olive trees on one side and only one side and the Arab village on the other. It hurt. I hurt. I wanted to cry but the tears wouldn't come. They are coming now.
I am here in part because of something the Canon of the St. George Anglican Cathedral in Jerusalem told me the last time I was here, that Christian presence and prayers in Israel were active peace-making. Holy One let me be an instrument of your peace.
May it be so, even in our days that Jesus 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 all. Amen.

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