It’s been about a month now since I went to Israel, and right now the thing that still sticks with me the most is the Israeli Wall. It’s odd. We saw so many holy sites, so many archeological digs, so many places of biblical import. And yet, what lingers is that massive wall dividing Jewish settlements from Palestinian villages.
And, again, it’s the sheer size of it that takes you aback. I took this picture (above) in the town of Bethany. You can tell we’re on the Palestinian side because of the plain, unadorned concrete. Trust me, the Jewish side is much more ornate and beautiful. By the way, the man you see at the bottom of the picture stands about 6 foot 2 inches. Yes, it’s that big.
And, clearly, the Palestinian villagers are none too pleased with their new wall. You can see the graffiti they’ve added to “brighten” it up. As you might guess, most of what’s painted here is designed to express their immense displeasure over their new wall.
And one can understand why. For starters, it’s plain ugly (on their side, at least). It cuts straight through Palestinian towns, dividing the townspeople from family and jobs nearby. Mind you, they can still get out. It just takes longer. Instead of a 10 minute drive to work, it’s now 45 minutes. A minor inconvenience.
And, of course, for every wall there are the checkpoints. To go into the Palestinian side, a light check. To get back out, a full search. It’s the only time I felt nervous in Israel. Never was I really afraid for my life anywhere we went. (Mind you, we stayed away from the most dangerous places.)
However, here at the checkpoint, I was nervous. Something about an 18 year-old Israeli holding an automatic weapon in one hand, my passport in the other, and asking me where I was going made me a bit anxious. I can only imagine how I would’ve felt if she’d have really thought I was a threat.
And on top of all of this, they are tearing down people’s houses to build the thing. Think eminent domain on steroids. The wall itself is bad enough, but imagine losing your house to it. Puts in perspective part of why so many Palestinians are so mad. This wall doesn’t make people happy.
Of course, one should point out that the Israelis didn’t build this wall because they like it. They would point to all the car bombings and suicide bombings. How do you keep your children safe? How do you walk down the street unafraid?
The terrorism has to stop, they would say. So, in the absence of real peace, they build a wall for protection. The Palestinians may not like it, they argue, but the suicide bombings have gone down significantly since they built it.
No, there’s no getting around it. This is a mess. And the wall symbolizes it beautifully.
And the saddest thing is, you know who’s caught in the middle the most? The Palestinian Christians. They are a mere 2% of the population (if memory serves correct), but they are the ones being squeezed out in all this.
It suddenly puts in perspective all those statistics I’d seen about how the vast majority of Palestinian immigrants to America are Christian. This wall, and all it represents, explains why. I can’t blame them. Caught in the middle of all that, I’d want to move too. I hear Kansas is nice this time of year.