Introducing a Study Guide to our Movie, "Blessed Are the Peacemakers."
In the time that I lived in Hebron, in the Palestinian territory of the West Bank in 2011, there was a particular day that stood out for me. It was a day that set off a personal crisis for me, and I think it was the day I became a true peacemaker.
There were other days before this day and many since that have added to my deepening convictions and urgency to work for peace. But this day was my personal tipping point.
This is how that day went down.
Our team got phone calls whenever there was a demolition (FMI see my original blog
story) that was happening in or around the city of Hebron. Our job was to get to the site as fast as we could to stand with the families and community that were experiencing the demolition, to take interviews, pictures and write up a report. The word “demolition” sounds crazy, but its standard operating procedure now for Israel as they steal land from Palestinians making space for their growing Israeli settlement expansion across the West Bank.
This is one of those awkward truths of this conflict that few people hear about.
What changed for me that day?
I was witnessing raw brutality, not toward some military target but to a family farm, to the farmer himself who had worked hard to grow citrus trees. This was his livelihood, his means of support and way to feed his family. And it was taken away from him so an adjacent settlement could have water to irrigate their green lawns in the desert and fill their community swimming pools.
The magnitude of the destruction and sense of powerlessness was crippling. Picture this with me.
As we rolled into the village, I saw a dump truck and backhoe filling the truck with huge rocks and earth. We took a turn up the street where the farmer’s orchard was planted and saw a flood of water streaming down the street, making mud for cars and pedestrians to get stuck in, not into the system of irrigation ditches. I was staring at something I just couldn't believe.10 truck loads of rock and dirt were subsequently dumped into the hole where water was preciously collected to give life to the trees a few yards away, as if to say "don't ever think of rebuilding this cistern!" The magnitude of the deliberate destruction was maddening. I was really troubled.
I also saw the overlay of religious fervor as one of the soldiers guarding the destruction crew stopped at one point and put on his prayer shawl and started praying. After a short pause praying he went back to guard the destruction crew tearing up the concrete structure holding the precious water intended to irrigate the farmers orchard.
I began to feel the weight of questions from my Palestinian friends. "Why doesn't the world stand up for justice and defend people like this?"
I felt deep pain and the grief of the farmer as we sat with him and tried to bring some kind of consolation. What does one say at a moment like this?
This crisis challenged my own reading of scripture. What does my own faith say to this? So I began a personal audit and had to examine what I believe, how I think about this conflict, what I thought about Israel and how this "miracle in the desert" was established and sustained. It may sound trite because the phrase is overused, but I was asking myself, "what would Jesus do?"
What does the important issue of justice have to do with peacemaking? Should this be part of Christian discipleship? Well, I'm working on these questions now, and I'd like to invite you along on this journey. Click this banner photo to learn more.
Do Peace Now
is an exploration into these questions and my invitation to YOU to join the Journey toward Peace.
“Avoiding conflict isn’t peacemaking. Avoiding conflict means running away from the mess while peacemaking means running into the middle of it.
― Peggy Haymes