When Your Neighbor Does Not Love You

By Maria C. Khoury, Ed. D.

Here in the Holy Land, as Christians we should be in the forefront of non-violent action since one of our very basic commandments is not just to love our neighbor but love our enemy also.  We know this directly from Christ who always forgave others no matter what.  However, in a high conflict area like the West Bank, this is easier said than done.  

It’s a struggle for Christians, Muslims and Jews to get along.  First, the only Jewish people we know are the Israeli soldiers.  And truly, it takes all of Christ’s love in your heart to love people who are always pointing guns at you.  We are completely segregated and forbidden to go anywhere near any settlement with their extreme security of the Israeli army.  Settlers can carry arms and of course Palestinians are not allowed;  not that I would want to carry a gun that most likely would end up being used against me.  But the first personal settler attack I have survived was as early as 1984 on one of my earlier visits to Palestine. Settler attacks are nothing new but it seems that the world does not hold Israel accountable for any of its injustices. Therefore I will keep reminding all my friends of the necessity to end Israel’s violations of international law, including ending its illegal occupation and building of settlements.

These last few months are more violently intense than ever because the settlers do not like the message coming from President Obama’s administration. And I do believe they have to show the world, “who is boss.” The more talk about freezing the settlements and the more attacks they inflict on Palestinians. Twenty-five Palestinians have been injured by settlers in one week alone. Last month, a young Palestinian-Christian father of three boys from Taybeh was attacked while driving his car on his way home from the Kalandia checkpoint. The rocks that hit his head required him to have surgery and stay in the intensive care for four days. The night before this attack when I was also showered with stones at 9pm at the Taybeh Municipality, I was simply grateful I did not end up in the hospital. 

I was feeling very low in spirits and I heard this very remarkable broadcast on “Come Receive the Light” about Prophet Job and I have come to accept that bad things might just keep happening to good people. But it reassured me of the power of media and the internet to help inspire me since I am so isolated. Thus, I will continue to encourage others in non-violent ways to speak out against the injustices we are experiencing from the illegal settlements all around us that are simply closing us in and hoping we disappear as Palestinian villages. 

On May 15th, Israel will celebrate another glorious independence day and Palestine will mourn 62 years of the Nakbeh, the catastrophe of 1948 and the total destruction of more than 500 Palestinian villages to make way for a Jewish homeland. Since 1967 when Israel also took over the West Bank it has been building illegal Israeli settlements to transfer as much of its Jewish population over the “Green Line” as Israel proper is referred to with the 1967 boarders in the desire to make a Greater Israel.

This week, Israel also celebrated Jerusalem Day and the gift to Palestinians for this celebration of wanting to make Jerusalem 100% Jewish is that two new illegal settlements will be build behind the American Consulate office where the YMCA is located in East Jerusalem and in the Old City near Al-Aqsa  Mosque. In the mean time, the ongoing onslaught on throwing out Palestinians from their Jerusalem homes of 30 years on the Sheikh Jarrah area and in Silwan has intensified.

What is of great amazement to me in “the only democracy in the Middle East” is that this month the Israeli government is proposing a new bill which will make it possible to outlaw the important human rights groups in Israel  among the organizations mentioned are Doctors for Human rights. 

In these very tense times and with the violence that will never stop, I can only think that when my neighbor does not love me that I simply have to Love my Lord and My God with all my heart, mind and soul so I can keep a little inner peace. I will try as hard as possible to find peaceful ways to resist the discriminatory policies and injustices. Intense prayer around the world is needed because the settlers have gone crazy and do not want a free Palestine in 22% of historic Palestine which currently they have colonized over half of this small amount being discussed for a two state solution. “Hear my prayer, O Lord, And let my cry come to You.” Psalm 102.

– Maria Khoury is organizing the 6th Annual Taybeh Oktoberfest, Oct 2 & 3, 2010 as part of peaceful resistance and non violent action to boost the 50% unemployment in Taybeh. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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