Posts Tagged ‘location’

Peace Talks

Before the Peace Talks
Palestinians need to understand that they cannot demand a nation that goes back to a pre-Israel concept.  Israel is here.  Permanently.  Forever.  Done.  In the same breath, Israel cannot expect the Palestinians to kowtow and just graciously accept the “leftovers” of the land they and their ancestors have inhabited for millennia.

There was a war in 1967 and the Arabs lost.  This must play a part in the negotiations.  It needs to be acknowledged that Israel does not have to negotiate any changes to the status quo.  It needs to be clear from the Palestinian leadership down through to the smallest Palestinian child, that Israel is a legitimate and welcome nation.  And it must be presented from the Israeli Prime Minister down through all the ranks of Israeli citizen that the Palestinians were on the land before 1948 and therefore have a right to it now.

I think that a single-state solution would be an easier and faster enterprise than the two-state solution but I will discuss my thoughts on both.

Single-State Solution
There are many positive outcomes to a single-state solution, but there are also negatives involved with this plan.

Israel and the West Bank* could become one secular, democratic nation.  This nation should be called Judea and Samaria because then either the Israelis or the West Bank Palestinians will feel they have won or lost.  The nation’s borders would go from the Mediterranean Sea in the east, the Jordan River in the west, the Negev desert and Sinai Peninsula in the south, and the Golan Heights/mountains to the north.  Palestinians and Israelis alike would gain citizenship (ie: passports, IDs, and travel documents) from Judea and Samaria.  Palestinians would gain the right of return they were promised back in 1948 and Israelis would gain the “Promised land.”  Palestinians would gain access to sites they have been banned from for a generation and Israelis would gain the safety they feel they haven’t yet accomplished.  Both people groups would have all the rights and responsibilities under this new nation and its government – including (but not limited to) voting, driver’s license, jury duty, running for elected offices, military service, and free enterprise.

As for the things they would lose.  Israelis would lose a distinctly Jewish state.  Palestinians would lose a distinctly Islamic state.  Both would lose the death and fighting that has plagued them for so long.  Both would lose a small piece of their identity – but they would gain a new identity in the new nation of Judea and Samaria.

Two-State Solution
There are many more difficulties to surpass with a two-state solution than the above proposal of a single-state, but they are not insurmountable.

For the Palestinians: they will have to give up their right of return.  This is the first thing that must happen.  They will have to concede the idea of returning to the villages and land of their ancestors.  They may still not be able to easily travel in and out of Israel.  They will also have to give up Jerusalem.

For the Israelis: they will have to give up their dream of controlling all of biblical Judea and Samaria.  This means giving up their settlements in the green zone and the West Bank.  They will have to give up the idea of total domination in the area.  They would have to go back to the pre-1967 borders.  They will also have to give up Jerusalem.

What would happen: Israel would remain a democratic, Jewish state with distinct borders.  Palestine would become a democratic state with distinct borders.  These boarders would return land won during the Six-Day War to the West Bank Palestinians.  The wall would come down and the West Bank would regain land they held after 1948 and the creation of Israel.  All West Bank settlements would have two options.  Option 1: become citizens of Palestine; giving up their Israeli citizenship and willingly aligning themselves with the rights and goals of a new nation or, Option 2: move back within the borders of Israel.  All Arabs/Palestinians living in Israel would also have two options.  Option 1: become citizens of Israel; giving up their claim to Palestine and willingly aligning themselves with the rights and goals of a nation or, Option 2: move within the borders of Palestine.

Both nations would not be able to deny citizenship to anyone who could prove their identity, their residency within that nation’s borders, and prove a proficiency in that nation’s official language.  Citizenship would include all the rights and responsibilities of democratic nations; including, but not limited to, voting, land ownership, constitutional rights, jury duty, running for elected office, driver’s license, ID, passport, military service, and free enterprise.

Jerusalem: would become international territory with its own flag as well as its own place and voting rights within the UN.  It would not belong to either Israel or Palestine.  It would be run by a committee made up of the Grand Mufti, Chief Rabbinate, Greek Orthodox Patriarch, Latin Catholic Patriarch, Armenian Patriarch, and two secular appointed leaders (one from Israel and one from Palestine).  These leaders would run Jerusalem from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  They would have an elected committee of fourteen (five from Israel, five from Palestine, and four from Jerusalem) who work with them as representatives for the people.  The committee would be elected for three-year terms and could be reelected no more than five times.  Every two years, at least three members would come up for reelection.

Residents of Jerusalem would be given international identification and paperwork.  They would have a separate Jerusalem passport and would not claim Israel or Palestine as their home country but would have all the rights and responsibilities of a citizen of an international territory (ie: see the rights and responsibilities above).

*My Peace Talks purposely leave out the Gaza Strip.  I think that Gaza is a separate entity from the West Bank (for good or ill) and should be treated as such.  It has its own leadership and that leadership needs to head into their own peace talks with Israel.

Thoughts on Gaza
I think Israel uses Gaza as a way to say “See, we NEED our walls and electric fences … they all hate us.”

The number one, most important thing that needs to be addressed for Gaza is the legitimacy of Israel.  They need to stop trying to destroy their neighbor and accept them.  They also need to stop trying to use force to gain an “upper hand.”  This change will never come if they continue to move toward violence.  Once these two stipulations have been negotiated I believe that things for Gaza would greatly and rapidly improve.

Gaza doesn’t have to worry about settlements or Israelis on their land.  They have to worry about having land and the Israeli blockades that have been put into place.  I truly think that once Gaza accepts Israel and ceases the violence Israel will lighten their hold on the area.  Trade will resume and blockades will diminish – if not disappear completely.

After a trust has been built, I think the electric fence surrounding Gaza as well as the IDF soldiers will be removed.  As for land issues, I think Gaza would have an easier time working with Egypt.  The Gazans may be able to claim part or all of the Sinai Peninsula.  With more land they would be able to move millions of people out of the refugee camps and the cramped quarters in which they are currently living.  After that, a government could be put in place – whether elected or appointed – and Gaza could become an independent nation.

Honestly, I think becoming an independent nation will be more difficult than negotiating lasting peace with Israel.  I do not think democracy would suit Gaza well but could see a parliamentary monarchy put into place within its government.  Hamas would need to cease to be a political entity and could possibly become the military unit of Gaza.

Again, the citizens of Gaza would gain land, rights, passports, travel opportunities, and responsibilities within their new nation.  And Israel would gain more safety and another ally.

Jerusalem Trip on 9/11

The Gang

The Gang

Last weekend one of the other teachers and I took three of our students to Jerusalem.  This is a big deal because they aren’t actually allowed to go into Israel since they are Palestinians, but since they are under 16 it is easier to get them through the check point.  Here is what happened:

My teacher friend – Big Red – met me at the school and we hailed a taxi to go get one student.

Big Red Leading The Way

Big Red Leading The Way

She wasn’t ready – teenage girls!  We waited and she finally came upstairs then it was off to get the other two students in Beit Sahour.  When we finally got back to the first student’s house (her father was driving us to the check point), the taxi driver tried to get 60 shekels from me!  This is because we were speaking English and he thought he could rip us off!  But Super Dad came to the rescue and told the driver you can take 20 shekels or you can take nothing so the driver left with nothing!  It was awesome!

We finally make it to the checkpoint and met back up with Big Red who’d gone ahead of us to scope

Check Point

Check Point

things out.  Things being scoped where … interesting.  You see, it was Ramadan Friday (every three years every Muslim has to go pray at the Dome of the Rock) so it was PACKED!  We finally decided to just push our way through the pack to get to the check point.  The goal was to make the students look very American so Big Red took the passports from everyone (theirs don’t have VISAs) and act like we were clueless to our task.  We told the girls not to speak and to act like they didn’t know Arabic.  This was easier said than done!  Big Red led and I made sure all three girls stayed with him and weren’t touched by the men around us.  Once we made it through the mob we quickly were escorted by soldiers to the “right line for us.”  And very soon we were on Israeli soil.  The girls didn’t even realize we’d made it through.  : )

Once on the other side we had to find a taxi or bus to get us from the check point to our destination … the mall.  We walked and walked and walked and then stopped at a monastery to take pictures thus starting the taking of over 275 photos!  I told the girls, “Go

We Made It!

We Made It!

frolic around those rocks and I’ll take your picture!”  Only one frolicked but we got some great photos of them laughing and playing around.

We quickly got bored of the frolicking so we started walking again and finally flagged a taxi and convinced him to carry all 5 of us.  This was “fine” … until we were stopped by the police.  Oops.  They made Big Red get out and walk the rest of the way – only like 5-10 more minutes.  I took the girls on into the mall once we were dropped off and we met back up with Big Red in the food court.  McDonalds, KFC, Burger King, Pizza Hut.  What “American” food did I want?  Still wish I’d have chosen Burger King!

After lunch we did the mall crawl.  Taking pictures throughout the trek.

One store didn’t like that we were trying on their hats, taking pictures, and singing along with the radio so we soon left there without

Hats!

Hats!

too much trouble.  You know, I didn’t want to have to bust some people up!

After walking for another couple hours, we were presented with our next challenge.  Shabbat.   That is the Jewish Sabbath.  It starts Friday at sunset and ends Saturday at sunset.  The stores were closing at 1 so everyone could get home before Shabbat started.  We also needed to go because the Jewish buses would soon stop and no Arab buses came to where we were.  So we decided to go to the old city next – if nothing else the Muslim quarter would be hopping with all the excess folks in the city to pray.

Big Red and I decided to keep our destination from the girls.  Heeheehee.  That makes anything more fun!  We even convinced one girl that we were going to Tel Aviv!  She was so disappointed when we arrived at the Damascus Gate!  We walked some more.  I do love walking!  We decided to take the kids to the roof of a school we knew where we could see an amazing view of Jerusalem.  On the way we were stopped by something extraordinarily beautiful.

It does exist here!

It does exist here!

Grass.

Lush green grass.  I couldn’t stop myself from running to it and laying face down in it!  It was heaven!  This caused the group to stop and even more pictures were taken.  Gotta love digital cameras.

When we finally left the grass I had to take one last look.  *sigh*

We made it to the school and the roof – but not without a lot of complaining about the walking and the stairs and the lack of information about the destination.  But when we finally got to the roof the girls Hellwere amazed by what they saw.

Big Red started telling them about the area including the Valley of Hinnom, right next to the school ,that used to be Gehenna.  AKA Hell.  So we started calling it hell and taking pictures of it … and ourselves and our shadows and … well you get the picture.  No pun intended.

We left the school then and went down into hell and … took more pictures!  And laughed and laughed and laughed some more.  It was ironic to be laughing so much in … hell.

Laughing in Hell

Laughing in Hell

We then caught a taxi back to the check point since the Arab buses were packed from the folks who were finished praying.  And since it was Ramadan the buses were rapidly diminishing because the drivers wanted to go home to eat!  The taxi again was okay with taking all 5 of us and we made it back to the check point without the interference of the police.

We then walked back to our side of the wall, took pictures of the wall, almost got shot by an Israeli

Graffiti on THE WALL

Graffiti on THE WALL

soldier for taking the wall photos, and finally walked back to the school.  Shortly after arriving, rides came to get kids and I went upstairs to crash.

It was a great day!

Finally Here

So I arrived in Bethlehem on Saturday night.  The flight was … long!  I didn’t sleep much but I did sleep.  Boo.  There were no IMG_3428problems in the airport or anything like that and my bags all showed up!

Jerusalem was beautiful!  I really like the feel of the city.  It’s a place where hard and soft meet.  Stone buildings, friendly people, ancient history, current events, CocaCola, etc.  I even saw a Burger King!

We finally arrived at the school very late on Saturday and I got to see the city from my living room window.  I love the hills and terrain (except when walking them).   I got all unpacked then tried to sleep … that didn’t work too well.

The Bed:  My bed may as well be made of concrete for the amount of give it has!  I sit on it and nothing happens.  I push on it with my hand and my arm moves instead of the bed.  Hard doesn’t do it justice!

Weather:  It reallyIMG_3424 is very similar to Orlando.  I like this because it feels a little more like home.  The difference is there is actually a breeze.  There isn’t rain and it isn’t humid.  There is also a lot more brown – we don’t have grass at all.

People:  I haven’t met many but they all seem extremely friendly.  Interesting thought: In Jerusalem I had two young people (girl and guy) comment that the tattoo on my left arm is bad, but they liked the others…basically tattoos are acceptable, just not cross tattoos (makes sense if you don’t agree with tIMG_3432he whole Jesus thing).  The interesting part is that, in general, Christians dislike tattoos no matter what they are.  Thoughts?!

Prayer Requests:  To continue to acclimate to the area and the people.  To remember names (and pronounce them correctly).  To find a church close to my apartment so I can invest time there.  Finances continue coming in!  That I can quickly learn a few Arabic phrases.  For my students.  My lesson plans.  My expectations.  My sanity.  My loved ones back in the States.  And most importantly, that I can be used by God to reach these people for Him!