Craig, Larry, and I went to the service I mentioned last night. Sabeel organized priests and laypeople from a variety of Catholic, Orthodox, and Lutheran congregations to collaborate in a beautiful, moving service. Prayers in Arabic, Armenian, English, French, Swedish, Italian, Czech (maybe) were offered up for a lifting of the siege. The unity in diversity and the sense of spiritual calling for justice were deeply moving.
We also met with Tom Neu of the Carter Center here in Jerusalem today. Here is a link to a description of some of what the Carter Center does here. Dr. Neu really helped illustrate that lifting the siege on Gaza should be a priority for Israel and for the United States. The use of the Gaza strip as a large prison is putting unsustainable pressure on Gazans. He goes there regularly and reports that Gazans want to work, but unemployment is so high, that a generation is coming up that is losing any familiarity with normal self-sustaining work. We as US citizens are subsidizing the wall, the blockade, and every action that Israel takes. We have the bargaining chips to help convince Israel to make just, responsible decisions to remove the siege, freeze settlements (including those on the drawing board) and stop house demolitions.
Those moves are not popular here or in the US right now. I don't pretend to understand how to convince people in any country that providing justice, freedom, and voice for their oppressed and disenfranchised populations will promote security. It's a hard sell to any powerful people to risk providing justice for the powerless of its number.
It brings to mind problems in the US. We have a long way to go in realizing our obligations and debts to immigrants, regardless of their documentation. In our war efforts, we are mainly silent as some of our military actions create enemies and hurt our security and our moral standing (the drone attacks in Pakistan seem to be the most apparent breach of international law at the moment).
I am very motivated to engage our legislators and executive on these issues when I get back to the states. If you want to get a head start on me, by all means go ahead! If you disagree with something I have said or want to add something, please do as well.
A quick disclaimer: My postings only represent my thoughts, not the other members of the trip. We will do some reflections and planning for how we may respond to what we have learned and seen. Then we will have something that can represent all of us. I expect we will come to consensus and share our plans on this Blog.