“It Is Very Heavy Here Right Now”

By James M. Wall2MaanImages:Abed al-Rahman Younis)

A personal friend of mine, a mother of three children, wrote from Jerusalem today:

“As I’m sure you are aware, the situation here is not good. I’ve wanted to write to all of you for two days now but have found myself very emotional and unable to properly express what is occurring here. Every morning we wake up to pictures and news of new deaths of young people. Innocent people.

“In the case of Fadi Aloon, murdered for being Palestinian and asking for help. Abed al-Rahman Shadi Obeidallah (above) was murdered at the age of 13. He was from the Aida refugee camp, where we just were, filming an uplifting video. Everywhere you drive there are remnants of the demonstrations from the night before, burned tires, stones, and communities in mourning.

“It is very heavy here right now. Everyone is waiting to see if this will turn into something even larger. The kids and I were caught in the middle of clashes with soldiers this week while returning home from school. It was a bit scary, with shooting and tear gas.”

Another friend from Chicago, AFSC peace activist Jennifer Bing, reports on a recent visit to the Israeli Ofer prison. Her report, Inside Israel’s Kangaroo Courts, Where Children are Held and Sentenced, is on the website AlterNet.

She writes:

“Israel’s Ofer military court provides a singular vantage point from which to observe the human impact of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories. . .

“I knew the military court was not going to resemble a Law and Order courtroom or be like one of my visits to Chicago’s Cook County courtrooms, but as I saw Ofer’s barbed wire and concrete walls I knew I was stepping into the heart of the occupation.

This was where the state of Israel put children on trial after they were detained by heavily armed soldiers, and it was where Israeli military law allows potential maximum sentences up to 20 years for a charge of stone throwing. A new law enacted recently inside Israeli targets Palestinian youth in East Jerusalem and allows for similarly harsh penalties.”

Bing coordinates the advocacy campaign, Israeli Military Detention: No Way to Treat a Child. 

Jonathan Cook writes from Nazareth:

“Since a boy named David slew the giant Goliath with a slingshot, the stone has served as an enduring symbol of how the weak can defeat an oppressor.

“For the past month Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has tried to rewrite the Bible story by declaring war on what he terms Palestinian “terrorism by stones”.

“There are echoes of Yitzhak Rabin’s response nearly 30 years ago when, as defence minister, he ordered soldiers to “break bones” to stop a Palestinian uprising, often referred to as the “intifada of stones”, against the Israeli occupation.

“Terrified by the symbolism of women and children throwing stones at one of the world’s strongest armies, Rabin hoped broken arms would deprive Palestinians of the power to wield their lowly weapon.

“Now the West Bank and Jerusalem are on fire again, as Palestinian youths clash with the same oppressors. Reports suggest soldiers killed one Palestinian youth and injured more than 100 others on Sunday alone.”

The Palestinian news agency Ma’an, reports on injuries and deaths: 

“At least 39 Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli forces in the Ramallah area Tuesday, as tensions remained high across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem following a spate of killings by Israeli forces and Palestinians.

“The Red Crescent said 25 Palestinians were injured in clashes at Qalandiya military checkpoint, including five with live fire and 10 with rubber-coated steel bullets.

“A 17-year-old Palestinian was shot in the stomach, reportedly with a 0.22 caliber bullet, and underwent surgery to remove a bullet from near his spine, medics said. A Palestinian woman was also critically injured in her neck.

“An Israeli border guard was reportedly injured when a stone was thrown at him.

“A large march had set off from the entrance of Qalandiya refugee camp towards the checkpoint, with youths throwing rocks, empty bottles, and Molotov cocktails at soldiers.

“Clashes also broke out near the Beit El settlement, with dozens of Palestinians injured by rubber-coated steel bullets and excessive tear gas inhalation. Israeli forces reportedly detained a child in a supermarket in northern el-Bireh during the clashes and searched an ambulance carrying the injured to hospitals.

“Earlier, Israeli forces shot and injured three Palestinians as fierce clashes broke out in Bethlehem following the funeral of a 13-year-old boy who was shot dead by Israeli forces the day before.”

An earlier story from Ma’an reported the 13-year-old boy’s death:

“A 13-year-old Palestinian boy was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers during clashes in Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem on Monday, Palestinian medics told Ma’an. Abed al-Rahman Shadi Obeidallah, was shot near the heart by Israeli forces during clashes in the refugee camp.He was taken in a civilian car to Beit Jala hospital where he immediately underwent surgery. However, doctors later pronounced him dead. The child was initially reported to be 12 years old, although medics later confirmed he was 13.”

Like many Israelis, Ha’aretz columnist Gideon Levy knew a third Intifada was inevitable:

“Intifada: The writing was on the wall. The writing has been on the wall because Israel’s conduct, in all its insufferable arrogance and imperviousness, cannot fail to lead to another terrible explosion.

“The West Bank has been quiescent for nearly 10 years, during which time Israel has consistently proven to the Palestinians that quiet will be met only with an intensification of the occupation, settlement expansion, more home demolitions and more mass arrests – including thousands of so-called administrative detainees who are incarcerated without trial, continuing confiscation of land, wholly useless incursions and arrests, and an itchy finger on the trigger resulting in dozens of needless human deaths and countless provocations inflaming Muslim sensibilities regarding al-Aqsa and the Temple Mount. Are Palestinians to assent to all of this in silence?

“To show restraint when the Dawabsheh family is burnt alive in Duma and no one is arrested or brought to trial by Israel, while Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon boasts that Israel knows who perpetrated that shocking crime but, to safeguard its intelligence network, will not arrest them?

“What people could maintain restraint in the face of such a sequence of events, with the entire might of the occupation in the background, without hope, without prospects, with no end in sight. No negotiations are underway, even in secret, the two-state solution is apparently permanently dead and Israel has no alternative to offer – and the Palestinians are to accept all of that and sit still? Nothing like that has ever happened anywhere, nor will it ever.

“While quiet has been sustained on the other side of the Wall for nearly 10 years, Israel has proven that there is no chance it will act as a partner for serious negotiations about the status of the West Bank, and that it has no intention of ending the occupation, with or without terrorism.

“A government that has the president of the United States wound around its little finger, incurring no punishment in return, has become drunk with power toward the Palestinians too. That’s what happens when the world permits Israel to run rampant in Gaza and the West Bank, inflating Israel’s arrogance and intoxication of power beyond all boundaries.”

What will stop this madness?

For an answer, start by looking in the mirror. Wherever you are, there are institutions, religious and secular, that are silent, media that are biased, and politicians who are indifferent to the suffering.

Wake them up before this “intoxication of power beyond all boundaries” dooms us all to permanent grief and sorrow. 

The picture at top is a Maan Image by Abed al-Rahman Younis.

About wallwritings

From 1972 through 1999, James M. Wall was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, lllinois. He was a Contributing Editor of the Century from 1999 until July, 2017. He has written this blog, wall writings.me, since it was launched April 27, 2008. If you would like to receive Wall Writings alerts when new postings are added to this site, send a note, saying, Please Add Me, to jameswall8@gmail.com Biography: Journalism was Jim's undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. He is an ordained United Methodist clergy person. He served for two years in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF reserve. While serving on active duty with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years.
This entry was posted in Israel, Middle East Politics, Netanyahu, Palestinians. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to “It Is Very Heavy Here Right Now”

  1. AWAD PAUL SIFRI says:

    Jim, Thank you for such powerful message.
    The stone that Biblical David used in his slingshot is venerated by our Pharisees, churches, synagogues, and mosques, let alone, Hollywood, media, politicians, and people of all domains.
    The stones of our homeland, Palestine, are sacred reminders of our spirit, our soil and rocks, air, water, and fire hat boils in the heart and soul of every Palestinian man, woman, and child.
    If Israel slaughters all the Palestinians in the Holy Land, rocks of earthquakes will be hurled, avenging our land from the barbarians who invaded it from across the Seas.
    But, God is fair and Palestinians will remain in their Holy Land, and their mere presence will be thorns in the face of occupation.
    Palestine is our one and only Homeland, since time immemorial.

  2. oldkahuna says:

    I know it is not enough (nothing ever is!), but I just wrote another letter to Pres. Obama and to Sen. Bernie Sanders, two passive witnesses.
    Thanks for another excellent piece!!

  3. Jim, this is an intensely saddening report. Thank you for your consistent courage and steadfastness that mirror those of the endangered land and people of Palestine.

    Awad Paul Sifri, your comment is searing and could be fashioned, with little or no change, into a poem depicting the Palestinians’ endless trauma along with the righteousness of their cause. (Now, if only man were fair, as God intends…but Zionists are not prone to such consideration of the/any “other.”)

  4. Jack Graham says:

    This portrait, artfully written, shows why the United States should withdraw all diplomatic, financial, and military protection of Israel and assume a stance of friendly neutrality between Arabs and Jews in the Middle East, lest Americans be complicit in crimes against humanity. There is no geo-political or moral reason why the United States should take sides or otherwise become involved in the dispute between Israel and Palestinian Arabs except to provide humanitarian aid to innocent civilians on both sides who have been harmed by the continuation of the conflict, and to become an honest broker for peace, according to peace plans similar and worked out, — my preference as the most practical being the Geneva Accord worked out under the encouragement of Jimmy Carter who, like John Quincy Adams, proved to be an outstanding former President. . — John Remington Graham of the Minnesota Bar (#3664X)

  5. Sami Joseph says:

    The comment above is glaringly puzzling considering that the US has all along been acting as an accomplice of Israel, not only by turning a blind eye to its ugliest brazingly inhuman crimes that it habitually commits, but by supplying the means to carry out such heinous acts and obstructing anyone seeking to redress them, including the obscene use of its veto at the UNSC. Regrettably, there is no shortage of apologists for Israel. Also, I deplore the sickening cliché statement used by western leaders when someone raises Israel’s bahviour, by utterance of the words: “Israel has the right to defend itself”!!!

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