I've decided to change the quote at the top of my blog to better express...the tone I'm striving for. It's a challenge to write a blog about Palestine as a white Christian (Quaker) American. And even more so as a pacifist. Lately, I've felt like I've needed to change my tone and content to both make my position more clear (and less watered-down) and to take my various privileges into account. For some reason, changing the header seemed like a place to start.
This quote comes from a letter written by several community leaders in Bethlehem. Sami Awad read it out loud to a crowd of Israeli soldiers at an Easter demonstration at the Bethlehem checkpoint. I wanted to post the letter in its entirety here:
Asalaam 'alaykum (Peace be upon you),
We in the Bethlehem community have come to you today with a message on behalf of our people. We represent the family members and friends who are imprisoned by these concrete walls and wire fences that now create the Bethlehem open-air prison. You, like prison guards, control our freedom and ability to live as human beings with dignity in this holy land.
Our strong delegation of civilians comes to you without weapons but with great strength and commitment to deliver the message of just peace. In the name of security, you do not permit us to travel, to school and to worship in our holy sites in the city of Jerusalem. Your government deprives us each day of basic human rights to self-determination. Each day you keep us from being with our families at weddings, funerals, graduations, birthdays, and religious holidays. Although Jerusalem is only twenty minutes from Bethlehem, we have not been allowed to pray and worship at our holy sites.
Each day as you come to our city, you serve the system of violence that keeps our people imprisoned and without the ability to live a life of a normal human being. With your guns, tanks, and insults, you teach our children to hate.
However, we believe each of you has the power and choice to choose a different ending to this story. We appeal to your conscience and humanity as individuals and as soldiers who may feel there is no way out of this system. Put your guns away—I repeat, put your guns away—and join us in the fight for peace and freedom.
The People of Bethlehem