I am a Christian whose life has been transformed by the power of the Holy Land
For the past five years, ever since my first visit to Palestine, every Advent and Easter I weep
I think of the all pain and the suffering that exists in the Holy Land and I weep
I see the brokenness of the world and I weep over Jerusalem
I weep because my religion has been coerced to support occupation and oppression
I weep because it’s normal
It’s normal that the Bible is used to deny people their rights
It is normal that Christianity is used to justify the usurpation of land and the ethnic cleaning of indigenous populations
I weep because it is normal
In Palestine… as a result of a 65 year struggle to keep their land
Home demolitions are normal
Land confiscation is normal
Settlements are normal
In the Holy Land it is normal for a child’s first memory to be of a tank driving down their street
For a person’s first experience with tear gas to be at the age of 2
I weep because in the village of Bil’in teenagers are arrested in the middle of the night and are not permitted to communicate with their family
Because like at Guantanamo Bay prisoners are held in administrative detention for years without charge
I weep because prisoners go on hunger strikes lasting nearly 300 days and the world is silent
Prisoners are tortured to death and no one says a thing
Midnight Arrests – normal
Administrative Detention – normal
Torture – normal
I know a man whose brother was tortured to the point of death only to be released to die outside of prison so the Israeli Defense Forces couldn’t be blamed.
I weep because in the Palestinian city of Hebron children are strip searched on their way to school.
Checkpoints are erected throughout out the city to keep Palestinians out of the Jewish only areas.
I weep because I witnessed a woman purchasing her produce in the middle of the street while she was engulfed in tear gas.
Strip searches – normal
Tear Gas – normal
Segregation – normal
Soldiers – normal
I weep because my friend’s father died of cancer because Israel wouldn’t grant him permission to seek treatment at the hospital in Jerusalem.
I weep because woman have given birth at checkpoints
And because people are forced to wait hours at checkpoints for no reason other than because they are Palestinian
Daily humiliation – normal
Permits – normal
I weep because when bombs fall on Gaza Israel is justified
As hundreds of thousands of people living in an open air prison run for their lives Israel and the US lift their heads with pride at Iron Dome Defense system
I weep because as the apache helicopter flew over my head on its way to Gaza in 2012 the streets of Bethlehem grew silent and still
I weep because as Al-Jazeera and the BBC spoke about the 4 Israelis who were killed verse the 167 Palestinians dead, my Facebook page was covered in pictures of dead babies.
Rockets – normal
Funerals – normal
People don’t realize that Israel kills people in Gaza almost every single day
I weep because no one seems to ask the question why
Why the rockets?
Why the demonstrations?
Why the Intifadas?
Why Hezbollah? Why Hamas?
What would you do if immigrants moved into your country and told you that you were no longer welcome?
What would you do if you were told that you could no longer live in your family’s home, on land that has been passed down for generations? And before you are even done packing a new family is moving in?
What would you do if your crops, your lively hood, were burned to the ground?
If your house was broken into and your father or mother was used as a human shield?
What would you do if 40 of your community’s children were all arrested on the same day just walking down the street?
If you spent 6 years in jail for throwing stones when you were 15?
I weep because without asking the question why and understand what has led to the situation in Palestine and Israel being what it is today… there will never be peace.
I weep because my country lies
The wool has been pulled over our eyes and people are blind to reality
My country lies because it says that it stands for freedom and justice yet when people fight for freedom and justice we call them terrorist
I weep because as US drones kill civilian populations in Afghanistan we don’t stop to question why terrorist groups to like us,
My heart breaks for the people who suffer at the hand of exceptionalism and empire
I have been implicated by my own history, the history of my ancestors and the history of my religion
Because of the genocide of the Native Americans and the Jews in the Nazi holocaust, I know what is being done to the Palestinians is wrong
Because of slavery and Jim Crow, I know that what is happening in Palestine is wrong
And because of the India Independence Movement, the Civil Rights Movement in America, and the BDS Movement in South Africa, I know that the Palestinian Resistance Movement is justified
I stand on the side of freedom and justice for all people and I hope and pray that one day I will weep over Jerusalem tear of joy.
* This was written after I returned from living in Bethlehem for 6 months in 2012.