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Crying All the Way

Right before the Synod Assembly, I returned from one of the most fascinating and challenging weeks of my life. I joined 33 other primarily PCUSA participants with a few ecumenical colleagues on journey to be in Solidarity with the Suffering. On the way back to the U.S. from Ammon, Jordan on the plane, I read the following by Amos Disasa, Pastor of First Presbyterian Dallas:

“There are experiences through which we must go, crying all the way… St. Francis of Assisi, in his youth, found it impossible to control his deep physical and emotional revulsion against leprosy. So acute was his reaction that he could not ever run the risk of looking at a leper. Shortly after he had made his first commitment to his Lord, he was riding down the road, when suddenly there appeared a leper. Instinctively, he turned his horse around and went galloping off in the opposite direction, his whole body bathed in nervous sweat. Then he realized what he was doing.”


You must go through some things, crying all the way.”  In Gaza, the West Bank and Israel, people are crying all the way.


 Among us, I saw demonstrations of passion for justice for the Palestinians. I witnessed even intense disgust and anger for the Israeli government for their treatment of the Palestinian people. I quickly began to feel those emotions.  We witnessed in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem, the destruction of a key Palestinian leader’s home. On Valentine’s Day, unannounced the Israeli government came with soldiers and M-16 rifles and a small bulldozer and demolished his home of 40 years. The family was given 1 hour to gather their belongings. All with no rationale except for the opportunity for Israeli settlers to unlawfully take over the property and occupy Palestinian territory.  Most Palestinian homes are built without permits as 95% of all Palestinian requests for permits are denied. Since 1947, 50,000 Palestinian homes have been destroyed and since 10/7 there has been a 70% increase.


In the West Bank, there are now over 700 checkpoints to supposedly make West Jerusalem and the rest of Israel safe and yet it is known that is primarily harassment of the Palestinians. 


I don’t have much time and a lot is at stake:


50% of all US Palestinians are Christians. Why?  Christians and Muslims are being pushed and harassed and threatened with death. Israel is seeking to create a Jewish nation.


One of three Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza are in refugee camps where Israeli military harass and illegally detain them without charges for 3-4 months. 


There are 68 refugee camps in Israel now. In a refugee camp the Director of Social Work said, “20 families since the first of the year have lost their homes. In the camps since 10/7, there is increased extreme poverty and domestic violence has increased significantly.


UNRWA has decreased funds due to US, the UK and Germany cutting funds. The US cut 30% of their humanitarian budget to UNRWA due to an undocumented Israeli claim that 10 of UNRWA’s staff had association with Hamas.

We met with the regional Director of UNWRA for the West Bank and Jordan.  “The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions from UN Member States.

The Agency’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance, including in times of armed conflict.” It was established in 1948. Israel pays zero to help Palestinian refugees.

This week the New York Times reported the following:

“An escalation of the war in Gaza could lead to the deaths of 85,000 Palestinians from injuries and disease over the next six months, in the worst of three situations that prominent epidemiologists have modeled in an effort to understand the potential future death toll of the conflict.

These fatalities would be in addition to the more than 29,000 deaths in Gaza that local authorities have attributed to the conflict since it began in October. The estimate represents “excess deaths,” above what would have been expected had there been no war.

In a second scenario, assuming no change in the current level of fighting or humanitarian access, there could be an additional 58,260 deaths in the enclave over the next six months, according to the researchers, from Johns Hopkins University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

That figure could climb to 66,720 if there were outbreaks of infectious disease such as cholera, their analysis found.”


The UN estimates that over 576,000 people in Gaza right now are starving to death. That is over 40% of the Palestinian people in Gaza.

My friends, Israel from my observation and from the United Nations description is practicing apartheid and is engaging in genocide.


How do we proceed ahead? Do we become a non-violent movement of protest? Do we take to the streets? Do we become saboteurs of the US government support of the Israeli government? Collectively we need to work together and individually find our way to support the cause. The increased efforts of genocide and the oppressive apartheid of the Palestinians must stop. It has been going on for 76 years and increased significantly post October 7th.


What got us here will not take us where we all want to go. We are witnessing a repeat of the Holocaust now. Yes, Israel needs to defend itself and yes, the Palestinian people need to be treated as human beings.


Let us call for a ceasefire in Gaza now and the return of all hostages now.

Let us call for the restoration of US financial support of UNRWA now. The claims of Israel are unsubstantiated.


A 20-year-old daughter of a pastor in Gaza asked the most poignant question. “How can you Christians in the United States stand by in silence as our people are blown up night after night?” Isn’t that the question?   

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