After a day of work I walked down to survey the situation at the security gate leading out of Bethlehem. It was surreal. I passed a coffee shop. A couple was sitting outside sipping a drink. A truck rumbled by. It was full of old tires destined for the fire. Already the smoke was roiling.
A few blocks later I approached an intersection where the young boys were hanging back. Their older--and more reckless brothers--ventured closer to the soldiers with stones. They crossed an invisible line, it seemed, and the armored men in green responded with gas or stun grenades.
Pfiiiiiit! Boom! Pow-pow!
Everybody ran. I watched this cycle repeat itself over and over again like some deadly dance.
(Notice the blue sign on the lower left of the image. It marks the location of one of our sister schools, Bethlehem Bible College. The "Separation Barrier" is a few hundred meters beyond.)
The events of this day underline one sure thing. The current US administration has forfeited any hope of serving as a honest broker in the Israel-Palestinian discussion. Some might say this was already a forgone conclusion. I suppose so. If Trump has done any service to the world, it is the act of removing US pretense.
As I walked back to my hotel, I passed the coffee shop. The couple was gone but their empty cups were still sitting on the table.
Dr. Mark Ziese, Dean of the School of Bible and Theology at Johnson University, manages the website Bible Land Explorer and teaches regularly in the Biblical heartland. You are invited to join Mark and Vicki for a Mediterranean Cruise aboard the Celebrity Reflection in October, 2018. Onboard lectures will focus on Paul's fourth missionary journey. See the link here for details.