A local eyewitness testifies at City Commission

by Laura Ford

In January of 2019 I travelled with 48 others to explore the Holy Land and to gain an understanding of Palestine-Israel. Led by several pastors and designated Palestinian/ Israeli guides, we visited the usual and unusual areas for tourists: Jordan River, Sea of Galilee, Dead Sea Scroll site, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jerusalem, the Garden of Gethsemane, Mount of Olives, West Bank, Golan Heights, Hebron, Banksy museum and graffiti walls.

We also came to realize the political and ethnic apartheid experienced in the Holy Land. [Apartheid means segregation and encroachment of rights based upon race or ethnicity]. Palestinians are denied access to their land. Jewish settlements encroach upon farms, cities, market places.

Palestinians repeatedly said this is not anti-Semitism. They desire a JUST ISRAEL – not just an Israel. The Zionist view is Jews only from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.

US Aid is funding Zionist oppression of the Palestinian people. It was one of the hardest things to see, when listening to a Pastor talk about social services for a 70 year old encampment that is significantly restricted, to see bomb shell casings printed “made in the USA”. Funding Apartheid is an ugly aspect of US relations.

It is difficult to have a creative and peaceful resistance to this apartheid; most individuals spoke about their desire to turn the garbage of hate into a garden of compassion. What is necessary is:

  • Inclusion
  • Reciprocity
  • Diversity in unity
  • Equal citizens, no matter if one or two states.

Palestinians have been forced into exile in their own land. There are limitations to electricity, water, education, employment, health care, and social services.

We stood on a roof top in Hebron and looked over a view of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish neighborhoods. It was obvious which streets belonged to which ethnic group: dim street lights if any, water cisterns on rooftops to collect meager rainfall, and broken weary buildings surrounded by refuse – that was the Palestinian quarters. Bright street lights over manicured lawns and clean avenues, freely moving individuals – that indicated the Jewish quarters. The Palestinians work and live and smaller and smaller areas, often confined by Jewish settlements above them in cities, surrounding them in villages and countries.