About this Blog

"Ordinary People" is something of an intentional misnomer. I live and work with Palestinians practicing nonviolent resistance to the Israeli occupation. They are doing things that are hardly "ordinary": committing themselves to active nonviolence and to loving their enemies -- following the commands of One who was anything but ordinary. And yet, the Palestinians with whom I work are also very ordinary -- they are not some kind of spiritual superheroes/superheroines who do things most folks can't do. They are simply ordinary people daily committing themselves to living a higher calling -- a calling of love and active nonviolence.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

On respectablility and white-washed tombs

One more post on our settler neighbors. There are pictures on their website from their "Hebron Fund" fund raising dinner in NYC recently. I perused the photographs last night. What struck me was how lovely and respectable everything appeared. Everyone looks lovely in their fine attire. The hall in which the dinner looked big and elegantly decorated. There are photos of people giving speeches and the presentation of an ornate glass plaque (speeches and plaques -- the event must be respectable, right?). There are even pictures of people dancing, which looked like a whole lot of fun. I'm sure the folks in attendance had no question that they were contributing to a good and noble cause, because the dinner had all the trappings of respectable, noble events.

Yet this lovely event stands in stark contrast to the reality of the settlements here in Hebron. The economy in the Old City of Hebron (okay, throughout the whole of the occupied Palestinian territories)is very poor. People are afraid to come to the Old City, because of the presence of soldiers that came to "protect" the settlers living literally on top of the Old City. So instead of fine banquets, here most Palestinians get food from the local soup kitchen. Instead of dancing, Palestinians mourn when the Israeli military beat and arrest Palestinian youth for "security." Instead of the privilege of being able to get on a plane and fly from Tel Aviv to NYC, most Palestinians are rarely even allowed permission to travel to Jerusalem, only approximately 20 miles away.

Would people still give money to this cause if they knew the ramifications of these settlements? If they knew what harm comes from them? I honestly don't believe so. But from a distance, it probably all looks so respectable.

I think Jesus had something to say about this. It was something about whitewashed tombs, and how the outside looks beautiful, but inside there is nothing but death(Matthew 23:27).

And, lest I become too proud, I know I am not immune to this failing. Jesus' words are for me, too. As I was looking at these pictures, I wondered how often I was complicit with the workings of the "powers that be," because the powers decked themselves in respectable attire. When have I been blinded to injustice, because of the power I have inherent in my race, class, and (worldly) citizenship? When have I foolishly been taken by the beauty of a whitewashed tomb, ignoring the death within?

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