Monday, January 14, 2008

A Stark Reality

In light of President Bush's largely ceremonial visit to the Middle East and his purely symbolic attempts at peacemaking, here's an account of a Jan. 8-21 delegation to Hebron, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and at-Tuwani Co-sponsored by On Earth Peace and Christian Peacemaker Teams. These folks have been on the ground in Palistinian neighborhoods and their stories reflect a more realist picture of the horror, the racism, the reactionary politics, and the utter difficulty of the Mid-East peace process.

A small team of peacemakers visited in the home of Hasham & Nizreen Al-Azzah. They, and their two young children, live in Tel Rumeida. Their backyard is a settlement - their walls and settlers' walls are less than 10 meters apart.

* Their young nephew was accosted by a settler (in his own backyard) who put rocks in his mouth and forced it shut, wearing the enamel off of his teeth such that they will probably not survive.
* Five days ago a neighbor went into labor, and was not allowed to pass through a checkpoint to get on the waiting ambulance. She gave birth in the checkpoint, and her baby is still in the hospital after suffering so long in the cold.
* For the past six months, their daughter's school only meets four days a week because each Saturday settlers attack students and teachers leaving the building in the afternoon, with soldiers standing by.
* The Al-Azzah's grapes and fruit trees have all been cut and olives stolen, with soldiers standing by. There are many more stories.

Accounts like this and the sorry state of the Bush Administration's foreign policy only deepen sadness and despair in the Middle East. Yet another cost of the war-making, militaristic, cowboy diplomacy of this government is the pure human suffering that we, the United States of America, are largely responsible for in this part of the world.

I'm not "blaming America first" as some might angrily fire back as a response, only making an honest attempt at claiming responsibility for what our government has been allowed to do. We're paying now for mistakes that have been made in the past. The current administration has multiplied these mistakes and made certain that the next administration will be forced by Bush's hand into largely cleaning up the mess, instead of being able to build on a workable policy. Counting the Cost....

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