Dear all,

Credit: Creative Commons

It is Tuesday morning in Jerusalem and I fly home to DC early tomorrow (Wednesday) morning. It is hard to believe a month has passed.  I am sad to be leaving Israel, to be leaving all the people here I love, the views of the Old City from our apartment window, the sights and smells of the Shuk (the Marketplace), and all the beauty and the complexity of this wonderful, ancient place. At the same time, I am very much looking forward to coming home.

This last week has once again been a week of amazing contrasts. This past Tuesday night, we were on Jaffa road (where our apartment is).  We were just walking to dinner, when we got caught in an ugly, racist mob scene with hundreds of young, mostly Orthodox Jewish men, throwing rocks, pulling Arabs out of stores, shouting,  ”We want revenge” and “Kill Arabs,”  and waving banners proclaiming,  ”We are all Kahane”.  I have never been more pained– or more terrified.  What has happened to our people?

The horrible events of the past week, the discovery of the bodies of the three Israeli teenagers and the horrific revenge killing of the Palestinian teenager only added to the information I had been receiving all month from the tours to Hebron, the Jordan Valley, the South Hebron Hills, and the Negev.  All together, each event and each tour has given me a stark, realistic picture, not only of the horrors of life for Palestinians under the Occupation, but also, the depth of collusion, rigidities, and racism of the settler movement, the Israeli army, and the Israeli government — and it’s leadership.  The events of this past week only confirmed what I was already learning and witnessing on the ground all month.  

I am coming home with a new resolve to join with others and think a fresh about what needs to happen now to reassert courageous leadership on behalf of a real liberation program both for Israel and for the Palestinians. A very powerful new movement, or at least a refreshed movement with strong voices of leadership, is now needed.

And at the same time, we also had incredible, tender moments over the past week.  My husband, George got a strong stomach virus and was running a high fever on Thursday, (he’s better now).   At 6 am I called the emergency number for our apartment staff and was immediately given the number of an Israeli doctor who would do a house call. I reached the doctor, (who answered his own phone at 6am!) and the doctor was in our apartment an hour and a half later, treating George.  When I asked if George would be up to going out that night (a Friday night) for our planned Shabbat meal– the Orthodox doctor responded, “if your husband is too sick to go out tonight for a Shabbat meal– you call me back. My wife and I will be cooking for Shabbat, and  it would be easy to prepare extra food for both of you and I will then drive back later today and bring you a Shabbat meal.”  A doctor that makes house calls and offers to bring by a Shabbat meal! When I said to the doctor, “that’s so kind of you to offer,” he responded, “that’s what we Jews in Israel do for one another.” So in the same week, I witnessed the most ugly, violent racism towards Arabs by gangs of young Orthodox Jews, and the individual acts of kindness to a stranger- also from an Orthodox Jew.

It has been a life changing month.  I look forward to continuing to process all that I have learned and reach for even deeper, more meaningful connections with each of you.

Thanks for being with me on this amazing journey.  More to come.

Much love,  Cherie

(To read Cherie’s other ‘Reflections from Jerusalem’ you can find them here and here)

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