Peter Goers: The shame of Israel’s Palestine apartheid
- Sunday Mail (SA)
- May 17, 2014
JESUS wept. In Palestine, Jesus wept and so did I. I weep for the Palestinians living under the Israeli apartheid.
Last week on a visit with the Australian Friends of Palestine and Senator Nick Xenophon I wept for little children in Hebron unable to cross a deserted road to go to school. The doors of their houses have been welded shut and they must travel 40 minutes to get to their school across the road.
I weep for a woman who is a prisoner in her own home, unable to use her front door or her street. She’s stoned by American Israeli settlers and she’s had to build a cage around her little balcony. She and our party – and a Palestinian friend – were abused by an aggressive, pistol-packing American settler. Minutes before our party was harassed violently by an Israeli soldier because the Palestinian with us cannot use the same street as the Israelis. Elsewhere, they must walk behind yellow lines on the side of he road. In the garbage.
I weep for those who must live behind the wall. Imagine if you woke up and there was an 8m-high grey concrete wall on your front fence line. Your front door and driveway are now useless and your house is now worth 10 per cent of its value.
You now have to travel 40km around this wall, through six difficult invasive checkpoints just to get across your road. Millions of Palestinians live behind this wall.
I weep for all 720km of this barbaric wall in Israel, a tiny country twice the size of Kangaroo Island.
I weep for the worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third most holy place in Islam. It’s in the Old City of Jerusalem, next to the Dome of the Rock – one of he most thrillingly beautiful structures in the world.
Israeli police and soldiers remove the ID cards of the Palestinian worshippers and tell them to pick up the cards from a police station. After an eight-hour wait, they are told the cards are now at another police station and this can go on for weeks at the risk of being arrested for not having their ID card.
I weep for the many Israelis who want to destroy the 1400-year-old Dome of the Rock, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Christian churches in this land whence prophets come.
I weep for the Palestinians who are second-class citizens in their own land. Intimidated, harassed, removed.
The population of Palestinians and Israelis is about equal but that is the only equality. Palestinians get only 20 per cent of power and water and pay six times more than the Israelis for their intermittent supply.
I weep for the settlements and the 630,000 intrusive settlers in Palestinian territory. I weep for faith, killed by fundamentalism. I weep for the illegal military occupation of Palestine for 47 years after millennia of occupations of this land as old as time. Jesus was a Palestinian born under another occupation.
I weep for this apartheid, so-called by former US President Jimmy Carter and current US Secretary of State John Kerry. I weep for our Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, and Labor leader Bill Shorten who can’t see that these settlements are all illegal.
Nick Xenophon says: “We listen to the International Court of Justice on whales but not Palestinians.”
I weep for Palestinian refugees. “My dream is to go to Hebron”, says Mohammed, in the DHL office in Amman, Jordan. Neither he nor his parents have ever been there. Only his grandmother can remember Hebron.
I weep because he may never see his homeland one hour away by car.
I weep for the oppressive, bellicose Israelis. The Jews – once so oppressed, now so oppressive. Recently the most distinguished Israeli writer Amos Oz decried some of his countrymen as “Hebrew neo-Nazis”. I weep that the Palestinians are “the Jews of the Jews”.
I weep for the brand new little housing development in Nablus – attacked two nights before I visited – by Israeli soldiers using nail bombs and their rifle butts to destroy every door and window and I weep with the families who live here.
I weep for Palestinians who have to make six calls to get an ambulance. Israelis make one.
I weep for greed and God and rocks and guns and demographics and the ghastly, endless geo-politic.
I weep for the 1004 Palestinian children arrested, tortured, abused and abducted last year.
I weep for the pain and cost of all this useless persecution in this sacred place with the best food, and the best, kindest, most stoic and eloquent people I’ve known.
I weep for this land of endless repression. I weep because there is no answer. “We are human,” screams Palestinian graffiti on the wall. Help. Please. Help. Understand.
Peter Goers can be heard weeknights on 891 ABC Adelaide