Those attuned to world news are aware of the escalating violence that has has rocked corners of Israel-Palestine in the last few weeks.
In the aftermath of a particularly brutal killing of an Arab boy (he was burned alive), residents of Beit Hanina and Shuafat took to the streets in protest. Confrontations between police and protesters resulted in additional human hurt and property damage. Many of us watching these events closely are wondering if the human conscience itself is a casualty? Are there any voices being heard out there, beside those of the extremists? Where does revenge stop? How can the cycle be arrested?
I chew these questions with a friend of mine, a legal-eagle, who is doing his internship in international law. We walk, talk, and muse each evening. We hail from from very distant corners of the world, but as we share, I am astounded by how much we have in common.
This morning he told me about a letter that another intern brought to the office. It was odd. She was at a bus stop in Beit Hanina, a largely Arab community north of Jerusalem where some of the local rioting has been most intense. A man approached her there, handed her a note, and walked away. It was written in Arabic.
Here is a picture of it.
She read it, then shared it with my friend. He shared it with me. Now I share it with you.
Consider these words from a Jerusalem bus stop:
We, Jewish residents of Jerusalem, stand ashamed and against the divisive violence and Zionism in our streets. And through this communication, we desire to send you, our Arab neighbors in Jerusalem, a letter of support and solidarity by your side in these difficult times. In addition to the institutionalized discrimination through many ways to which Palestinian residents of Jerusalem are exposed, from the Israeli government for a period of many years, we have witnessed in the last few years, and specially in the last two weeks, attacks of violence and hatred, brutal and painful murder of the young man Muhammad Abu Khadeer, and divisive gang outbursts in the middle of the city and other neighborhoods. We are persistent and determined to fight violence and Zionism that support the outbursts in our streets. Remember, they are not the majority among us, but they are a minority. Our deepest condolences to the family of Abu Khadeer. And we send to you a letter of good neighbors.
Solidarity and support.
If you are wondering what will it take to bring healing to the region, might I suggest to you the perspective of this man? He was bold enough to stand amid the broken glass and debris of war, distributing a message of hope into a place scarred by hate.
. . . . .
“‘Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor . . . ?”
“He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘You go, and do likewise.’”