The Fruit of Justice will be Peace (Isaiah 32,17)
Last Thursday we concluded our international conference “Land, People, and Culture”, only to wake up two days later to see that the situation has changed drastically. We are glad that most of our guests are back in their countries safe and sound. We have connected with the few who remained, and they informed us that they are doing well.
Many friends, concerned about our safety, have been sending us messages inquiring about our situation. Your prayers, advocacy, and support are much appreciated. We are fine; however, Bethlehem and all the Palestinian cities in the West Bank were sealed off by the Israeli military, all streets leading out or into Bethlehem were blocked with cement blocks. This is preventing most students from reaching the University, which forced us to move to online teaching. But you can imagine how difficult it is for people here to concentrate while watching the horrendous news on TV.
As I write this late Monday afternoon, I hear the Israel F15 flying over our cities on the way to bomb Gaza. This last hour alone, over 130 Israeli air strikes were conducted in Gaza; several of these strikes are in the area where our satellite center is located. Gaza is in flames. Our heart goes to the civilians in Gaza who live in fear, without electricity, water, food, or medicine. Our thoughts are with Rana, the director of our training center in Gaza, our staff, and students there.
We are concerned about the high number of civilian casualties, irrespective of they are Palestinians or Israelis. We call for the Geneva Convention and International Humanitarian Law to be guaranteed by the international community. However, the military and political blind support that Israel is getting from Western countries is giving Israel a green light to level Gaza without any repercussions.
The mainline Western media is in full gear utilizing a settler colonial rhetoric, demonizing the Palestinians as savages and terrorists, without talking about the root causes. Even when we speak out sharing our own narrative, colonial voices try to silence us demanding that we repeat settler colonial propaganda. So, let’s talk about the root causes:
These young Palestinian fighters were born under siege in the largest open-air prison in the world. For decades, they waited for justice, for freedom, for a life in dignity, but all in vain. What they saw was a double standard treatment; Those who stood with the occupied Ukrainians were standing with the Israeli occupiers. They witnessed four wars that Israel led against their narrow strip that has been used as a real testing ground for their latest technological weapons and artillery. Worse, they were left with no hope whatsoever in an area 360 square kilometers where the air, the water, and the sea are polluted and where life became unlivable. Israel and the world left them to perish slowly but surely as if they were children of a lesser god, negating their right to defend themselves.
Allow me to reiterate: Occupation will keep triggering resistance. No one can relinquish people’s quest for freedom. Without justice there will be no peace. Keep us in your prayers, raise your voice for justice. It is high time to decolonize Palestine so that our people can live in dignity and reach the potential that God has for them. Thank you for your support.
Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb