Fear – the Israeli Perspective – the Separation Barrier

This reflection was written by Suella Henn

Israeli perspective on the Security Fence / Barrier Wall

It has been harder for me to credit the Israeli perspective both during and since our trip.  But I do take seriously the role that fear plays in understanding their motivation and actions.  Youval Ben Ami, our outstanding Israeli guide, emphasized this frequently.  Several times he brought friends along when we went to the West Bank, young people who had never dared to venture there.

Signs such as the following are posted at checkpoints into Area A, which is fully under Palestinian control and is forbidden to Israeli citizens.  As Youval so often said, it is difficult to begin to understand one another when normal contact between peoples is forbidden.

WestBankwarningsign

I have just finished reading Ari Shavit’s new book, “The Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel” which begins with the sentence: “For as long as I can remember, I remember fear.  Existential Fear.”  Born in 1957 he remembers how he has felt during the wars involving Israel since then.  The Jewish history of pogroms, oppression and the Holocaust coupled with an understandable longing for a place where they belong, can be self-determining and flourish is masterfully drawn in Shavit’s book, as are the tragedy of their blindness to the people who were already on the land and the moral evils of the occupation.

Our day devoted to the Israeli perspective began when we met with Col Dany Tirza, an engineer and the IDF’s chief architect for the Security Fence.  He emphasized: The fence is needed for Israeli security.

 He took us to a road on the outskirts of West Jerusalem overlooking a valley to the south.  Behind us were attractive, substantial 3-4 story apartments with barred and bulletproof windows.  In the valley immediately below were olive groves and on the distant hills a large populated area.  An empty road snaked along the valley between the olive trees and the town.  Looking more closely we could see that there were fences along both sides of it.  The fences are electrified, topped by barbed wire, with frequent sensors and surveillance cameras placed along them.  There are wide cleared areas on either side of the road and outside the fence.  The barrier averages 200 ft. in width.

SecurityfencenearJerusalem

Its construction began in 2002 following numerous suicide bombings and terrorist attacks and was designed to restrict access of terrorists and to control the entry of Palestinians into Israel.  Numbers tell the story.  In 2002, before construction started, 457 Israelis were killed; in 2009, 8 were killed.  So the fence seems to have been effective in deterring the attacks.  It has also prevented easy movement of Palestinians into Israel, those seeking work, education, and medical care.

The fence is built more or less along the Green Line, though its placement has been disputed, especially when it separates Arab villagers from their farmlands and olive groves or cuts off access to other parts of the West Bank. Col. Tirza emphasized that in designing the barrier he tried to be sensitive to Arab concerns, trying to exclude Arab villages from the area within the fence, and to provide access for farmers to their trees and farmland through crossing points.  I could not help wondering about the olive groves visible here on the left and the populated area on the right.  I could spot no obvious crossing point and was given no opportunity to ask.

Such fences comprise 90% of the barrier.  The rest is a 26 ft. high concrete wall, usually through or around more populated areas.  Here the goal has been to deter sniper fire on roads or nearby settlements.  The wall, the fence and their effects on the Palestinians were painfully obvious during much of the remainder of our trip.

Suella Henn

Dec. 2, 2013

Canaan Farm Olive Oil for St. Mark’s Advent Sale by Kitty Donnelly

The olive oil and tapenade we sell during Advent each year are from the Canaan Farm Co-operative of Burqin village in the northern West Bank.  Just before the olive harvest began during early October, the St. Mark’s pilgrimage group visited this fascinating and efficient co-operative, near Jenin, Palestine. The co-op began in 2005 with 14 farmers, but now has 1700 farmers and contracts with other oil presses in the region so they can accommodate this vast increase in participation.  The rapid growth is because the co-op guarantees a minimum price for good quality olives even when the market price was significantly depressed during the recession.  The co-op price fluctuates with the market and is always at least a few shekels above market price.  The co-op members are assured of  a fair price for good olives.

The current 2013 holiday issue of Saveur magazine has an article that tells about this co-opand the wonderful products they now export to a number of countries. Further information about the founding of the co-op was in Bloomberg news at this link http://bloom.bg/hLrY8m

Canaan Showroom

An olive contains about 28% oil, 22% water, and 50% solids. After oil is extracted, the solid pellets which remain are used in the fields as fertilizer. The farmers practice age-old sustainable methods of terracing olive groves to capture rain water and prevent erosion and loss of top soil. Preserving rain water is important. Israeli authorities will not give Palestinian farmers permits to dig wells or to build reservoirs to hold rain water. Anything built without a permit can be shut down or destroyed by Israeli authorities.

Olive trees can live a thousand years and become stronger and more productive with good care, so that they are prized and passed down from one generation of a family to the next.

The olive trade represents 40% of all Palestinian agricultural trade. We were told that the West Bank has approximately 7.6 million olive trees, but 2.1 million of those trees are not accessible because of the Israeli construction of the Separation Wall, that is almost 28% of the olive trees in the West Bank.

Canaan cold pressing machine

We began in the press room where cold pressed olive oil is extracted by a high tech process that never exceeds 28 degree Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit). The room was immaculate.

The walls were covered with handsome patterned tiles surrounding Arabic sayings on tile   reminding workers to work safely and cleanly.

Words to encourage Cleanliness and Care

To ensure highest quality, farmers only bring very fresh picked, intact olives that have no cuts and have not been stepped on.  A single farm’s olives are fed into a large washing tank. After washing, the olives are directed into tanks to be cut and sliced in a nitrogen atmosphere that excludes oxygen which would lower quality.  Canaan large storage vats that hold the oil

Then the mass is pressed at a controlled temperature to extract cold pressed oil.  After this extraction process,  modern scientific lab tests the olive oil to verify low levels of acidity and oxygenation and good flavor to determine its grade. Extra virgin olive oil has acidity of less than 0.8 g per 100 g. Extra virgin oil is stored in large underground vats, again topped with nitrogen gas to protect it from oxygen.  Canaan draws and bottles extra virgin oil in response to orders, so the oil is always supplied as freshly bottled.  They also bottle olive oil infused with garlic, with pepper, with chili and with thyme.

The Canaan Co-op contributes to the farm community beyond paying a fair price for agricultural products.  Each year they distribute the “virgin premium” which is funding invested in the community. They support Trees for Life and over a period of 7 years have planted 80,000 olive trees.  Ten scholarships are provided to local universities for members of farmer families who lack education.  They have a micro-loan program for women. They also support a program to encourage the recycling used oil for fuel.   The co-op is organized as a Palestine Fair Trade group and all their products are certified Fair Trade.

Canaan

Most products are also organic.  A contract has been developed with Whole Foods grocery chain in the US to sell products including their tapenade.  The bulk of their production is sold in Europe and the US to individuals and groups eager for Fair Trade products and willing to pay the price differential to obtain them. They also supply lower grade virgin olive oil to the manufacturer of Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap.

The co-op also supports women’s co-ops which prepare olive oil soap, herbal mixtures such as za’atar, Palestinian couscous and spreads such as tapenade. The co-op has also begun marketing local almonds.  They deep freeze nuts and couscous to -27 degrees Centigrade, as a non-chemical organic means of fumigation. They now supply fair trade almonds to Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Watch for almonds in Ben and Jerry’s ice cream when you next indulge and look for Canaan tapenade on the shelves of Whole Foods.

Canaan

As we begin the Advent sale at St. Mark’s Church, look carefully at the  true extra virgin olive oil from the Canaan Farm Co-operative.  The Pilgrimage group will remember the farm families who raised these olives and benefit in so many ways from the Co-op sales stays and the outward ripples of good deeds from this co-operative. Many of these farm families hosted members of our pilgrimage in their homes. So when you buy Co-op products as gifts for others or to enjoy yourself, your act will  strengthen the bonds of goodwill between St. Mark’s and these farm families.

Marketplaces…. as windows to lives lived by Kitty Donnelly

As 
outsiders 
or 
sojourners 
in 
the 
Holy Land,
 we
 search 
for
 glimpses 
of 
those 
who 
live
 there.

 The 
markets
 are
 a 
window 
into all 
the 
foods 
and 
other 
things 
necessary 
to 
daily 
life.

 Walking 

to 

and 
inside 
the 
Old City 
offers 
a 
vision 
of 
all 
the 
incense,
 foods, 
fruit

 mounded 
by 
juice 
stands, 
ankle 
length 
modest 
Muslim women’s 
clothing 
contrasts 
with 
skimpy 
glittery 
attire 
sold along 
the 
way
 
kitchen 
supplies,
 places 
for gathering 
or 
eating 
or 
relaxing…..all 
spread 
along 
the 
narrow 
way

.Damascus Gate

Just 
outside 
and 
inside 
the 
Damascus
 Gate, 
small 
vendors 
spread 
goods 
to 
sell 
on 
the 
pavement. 

Old 
women 
from 
the 
country 
set out 
mounds 
of 
fresh 
greens ,
vegetables
 and
fruit.

Fruit baskets

One 
young
 woman 
has 
nothing 
bu t
a
small 
mound 
of fresh 
figs 
to 
sell, 
suggesting 
her 
limited 
resources 
and 
neediness.

 Amazingly 
we 
see 
almost 
no 
beggars, except 
one 
older 
woman.

The Via
 Dolorosa 
is 
a 
path 
where 
Christians 
meditate 
on 
Jesus’
 suffering 
in 
his 
last 
days, 
but 
it 
is 
also teems 
with 
life.

 Sellers 
of 
everything 
from
 pottery
 and 

antiques 
to 
souvenirs
 that 
range 
from 
crass 
to inspiring, 
with blocks 
of 
halva 
near
 open 
bins 
of
 spices 
and 
the 
butcher’s 
meat 
hangs 
waiting 
for 
the
next 
customer.

 And 
somehow
 this 
mix 
seems 
right, 
religion 
belongs 
in 
the 
market 
of 
our 
daily 
lives, 
not set 
aside 
as 
a 
once 
a 
week 
or 
once 
a 
holiday experience 
that 
does 
not 
touch 
our 
everyday
 lives.

Old City market stalls.

Visitors 
now 
enter 
the 
Temple 
Mount 
to 
see 
the 
Dome 
of 
the 
Rock 
and
 Al 
Aqsa 
mosque 
from
 the crowded
 open 
Western 
Wall 
plaza. 

But 
they 
often 
exit 
through 
the 
domed 
historic 
cotton 
market 
hall, with 
massive 
green 
Ottoman 
doors 

opening 
on
 a 
long
 vista 
over 
the 
stalls 
and 
Middle 
Easter n
coffee stands. 

Starbucks 
does 
not 
have 
a
 foothold 
here. In 
West 
Jerusalem 
the 
afternoon 
before 
Shabbat 
begins, 
the 
Yehuda 
Mahane 
covered 
market 

corridor teems 
with 
men 
and 
women
 rushing 
to 
take 
home 
the 
foods 
and 
goods 
needed 
for their 
religious 
day
 of rest.

 Here 
the
 stalls 
display 
fruits,
 vegetables, 
eggs,
 spices,
 halvah 
too,
and 
arrays 
of 
kippe 
or
 yarmulkot in 
a 
range
 of 
colors 
and
 patterns 
that 
captivate 
the
 eye.

 The 
crush 
of 
crowd s
flows 

efficiently
 and amazingly 
our 
group
emerges 
at 
the
 other 
end 
of
 the 
long 
hall

 without 
losing 
a
 single 
person.kippas.

On 
our 
day 
trip 
to 
Hebron, 
after 
visiting 
the 
tomb 
of 
Abraham,
 we
 walk 
the 
old
 central
 market 
that wends 
its
 way 
below
 high 
buildings.

 Above 
our 
heads 
at 
times 
i s
a 
wire 
mesh 
barrier 
installed 
to 
protect those 
walking 
below 
from 
trash
 and
 objects 
thrown 
down 
from
 the 
buildings
 occupied 
by 
Jewish 
settlers
who 
have 
been 
given 
residence 
in 
the 
heart 
of 
the 
old 
city.

 On 
our 
visit 
we 
do 
not 
see 
anything 
being thrown 
down,
 but
 learn 
from 
members of the 
Christian Peacemaker
 Team (who 
bear 
witness 
here) 
that 
refuse 
and even 
liquid 
bleach 
have
 been
 poured 
on 
those 
in 
the 
market 
below. 

The 
market 
sellers 
are 
very 
eager 
to sell,
 but 
the 
crowds
 are
 thin.

 The 
tense 
situation 
in
 Hebron 
between 
settlers 
and 
the
 Palestinian residents 
of 
this 
large 
city 
hovers 
over 
the 
market.

 We 
see 
a
 donut
 maker 
squirt 
dough 
between 
his fingers 
into 
boiling 
oil, 
an
 old 
cobbler 
at 
work, 
pita 
emerging 
from
 a
 baking 
machine. 

All 
the 
while 
as 
we take 
photographs, 
we 
are 
an 
object
of 
interes
t to
 the 
local 
residents.
 
A
 group
 of 
young 
teenaged 
school girls 
encounter 
us 
and 
one 
girl 
takes 
out 
her 
camera 
to 
photograph 
me,

 reversing 
roles 
to 
focus 
on 
us as 
exotic
 visitors.

Later
 in 
Hebron 
we 
walk 
along 
padlocked shops 
in 
a 
zone where
 Palestinians 
have 
been 
evicted.
 The Peacemakers 
tell 
us 
that 
the 
Israel i
government 
has 
determined 
that 
the 
street 
closure 
was 
a 
mistake, but 
now 
the 
Israeli 
military 
commander 
wants 
to 
keep 
the 
street
 closed 
and 
so 
it 
remains. 


A 
lasting
memory 
is 
the 
poignant
 mark 
of 
white
 prints 
of 
open 
hands 
left 
to 
protect 
a 
closed 
shop 
in 
a 
sign 
of hope 
amid 
the 
desolation 
of
 the 
deserted
 streets.

Fatima Hand on locked doors

Words 
and
 Realities:

 Settlements 
and 
Refugee
 Camps 


by 
Kitty 
Donnelly


In 
the 
news 
about 
Israel
 and
 Palestine,
 we 
often 
hear 
the 
word s
”settlements”
and 
”refugee 
camps”.  These 
words 
had
 conjured 
up 
mental 
images 
for
 me 
that
 contrasted 
strongly 
with
 what
 we 
saw
 on 
our visit . 

”Settlements”
sounded 
like 
small 
outposts 
of 
temporary 
homes,
 gradually 
becoming 

communities of 
more 
established 

houses.

 But
 driving
 through 
the
 West
 Bank
 countryside, 
we
 mostly 
saw
 large mountain
top
“settlement”
 towns 
crowded 
with 
recently‐built 
rows 
of 
multiple 
apartment
 buildings
and 
houses, 
populated 
with 
tens 
of 
thousands
 of 
Israeli 

Jewish 
settlers.
 
These 
new 
towns 
or 
cities 
were large, 
modern, 
and
 permanent. 

We 
did 
pass 
one 
new 
temporary 
settlement 
of 
half 
a 
dozen 
trailers 
near a 
built 
up 
settlement‐this 
way 
a
 site 

not 
authorized 
by 
the 
Israeli 
government 
begins 
as 
”facts 
on
 the ground”
 with 
the 
likely 
outcome 
of 
being 
authorized 
by 
the 
government 
after 
the 
fact 
as 
”expansion 
to accommodate 
natural
 opulation
 growth.”

.Settlements
The 
words 
”refugee
c amp”
 also 
suggested 
temporary 
housing, though 
many 
families
 have 
lived 
in “camps” 
more 
than 
60 
years.

 Visiting 
the
 Aid 

refugee
 camp,
 land 
crowded 
with 
homes 
near Bethlehem, 

we 
walked 
past 
one 
of 
the 
original 
single 
story 
concrete 
UN 
camp 
dwellings 
with 
very 
little living
 space 
for 
a 
family.
 
But 
as 
the 
camp
 land 
was 
fixed 
and
 population 
grew, 
the 
homes 
have 
been expanded 
and 
built 
up 
by 
individual 
families
 into 
a 
dense 
variety 
of 
buildings
 of
 multiple 
stories,
 with plants 
growing 
in
 pots 
and
 boxes 
on 
ledges 
and 
staircases 
to 
make 
up 
for 
the 
lack
 of 
green 
space.  Expansion 
of 
land 
for 
natural
 population 
growth 
is
 not 
an 
option 
in 
the 
camps.

 We 
saw 
no 
open 
spaces for 
children 
to
 play
 other 
than 
the 
streets 
or 
the 
bare 
land 
along 
the 
separation 
wall.

 The 
wall 
provided a 
surface 
for 
creative 
graffiti, 
slogans
 and 
artwork 
depicting 
all
 the 
villages 
that 
the 
camp 
residents 
had been 
forced 
to 
leave 
decades 
ago.

Aida Refugee Camp

During 
our 
visi
t to the 
Aida 
camp, 
we 
were 
interested 
to 
hear 
that
the 
land
 on 
which 
the
 camp 
is 
built 
is 
temporary, 
the 
land 
is 
on 

a 
99 
year 
lease.
 
As 
decades 
have already 
passed 
since 
the 
camp
 was 
opened, 
we 
can 
only
wonder
 what 
will 
become 
of 
the 
thousands living 
in 
Aida 
and 
other 
camps 
when 
the 
lease
 runs 
out.
So 
now 
we 
understand
 that 
settlements
 are 
permanent
…..and 
literally 
new 
Israeli 
towns.
 Refugee camps 
are 
temporary…..
but 
in 
fact, 
decades 
old 
Palestinian 
neighborhoods 
or 
towns 

built 
on
 land
 with a 
lease 
running 
out
.


 These 
are 
the 
facts 
on 
the 
ground
 and 
they
 point 
to 
the 
difficulties 
that 
lie 
ahead and
 must 
be 
faced.

Reflections from the Holy Lands

Please mark your calendars for Tuesday, November 19:

The St. Mark’s pilgrimage group will be sharing their stories and reflections from their trip to the Holy Lands. The evening begins with delicious Middle Eastern food. Please stay to hear about the signs of hope that our group saw for the Middle East.

Place and Time: St. Mark’s Nave, 6:30-9pm.

Reflections of the Galilee

Being on the Galilee by Kitty

The Galilee is the antithesis of Jerusalem.  We left  the crowded city surrounded by parched hills and silvery green olive groves, drove through the checkpoint for a few hours of the bustle and vitality of Ramallah, the working capitol of Palestine.  After the northern border of the West Bank, we pass another checkpoint and as we climb the rugged hills beyond the cities throb, the land gives way gradually to the brighter green of grass and crops. The landscape is no longer convoluted valleys but instead centers on a broad body of water with the heights of theGolan rising beyond.

.Karen-Galilee with Golan Hills

We hopscotch from sacred site to shrine with lumbering buses full of tourists from every corner of the globe. Much of what we see are evocative ruins, remnants of ancient Christian mosaics of water birds and Roman foundations of cities that stood here in the time of Jesus.

Kitty-Mosaic

We search to find the brief moment of quiet which allows the mind to imagine the crowd that witnessed the miracle of the loaves and fishes. We find it in the Monastery at Tabgha where the plain open nave and the simple ancient mosaic of a small basket of loaves and two fish in remembrance of that miracle.  Here is quiet and we can focus in contemplation on the Jesus who quietly spoke to the men pulling their nets from the sea. And they left the nets and their boats because he was so compelling.

Karen-Tabgha

Karen-Refection at Tabgha

We lunch on St. Peter’s fish beside the sea of Galilee, gazing over the water.

Karen-St.Peter's Fish

A dark storm with strong winds gathers and moves across the water churning white caps. In Jesus’ day, the water was much higher and the sea was larger. It is easy to imagine the distress his followers felt in a small boat in the middle of that large expanse of water when a storm came quickly upon them as their Lord slept.

After lunch, we walk through a quiet garden and past a small church with rough hewn stone steps into the shallow water of the sea. This is believed to be the place where Jesus appeared to his disciples after the Resurrection.  Here he prepared a breakfast for them on the beach.  Soon our group is alone and we wade into the waters of the Sea of Galilee and collect black basalt stones from the rocky beach.

Kitty-Wade in Galilee

Outside the doors to the church Susanne Allen sings a verse of a favorite St. Mark’s hymn about the disciples…(simple fishermen) and the Sea of Galilee……soon we are reconstructing the verses and we sing them once again. The words and music carry us back to the disciples’ time and yet ring true for our experiences on this pilgrimage as well.

“The peace of God, it is no peace, but strife closed in the sod. But let us pray for but one thing, the marvelous peace of God.

Late afternoon, we arrive at the Mount of Beatitudes hospice. The hilltop gardens overlooking the Sea of Galilee have individual plaques (each noting Jesus’s sayings of the blessed). Around the promontory, the sun is setting and drenching the clouds and landscape with breathtaking shifting colors.

Karen-Beatitudes

There is a feeling of being in a sacred space set aside. That night our group celebrates compline in the sanctuary of the garden and the spoken and sung word resonate and echoes around us.

Kitty-Sunset

This special place feels filled with peace and close to heaven.

Kitty

Sounds from Morning to Night

A  Pilgrimage Reflection by Kitty

Waking from disrupted sleep on our first morning in Jerusalem, we hear the sounds of children on the playground at St. George’s school across the road from the Cathedral of St. George in Jerusalem. It educates both Christian and Muslim children and is known as a place fostering tolerance and understanding in a city and country where schools mostly serve children of one religion.  These sounds of young voices full of energy and excitement at being together for another day of learning strike a note of hope for the start of the day.

St. George's Close and Garden

St. George’s Close and Garden

Christians are a shrinking minority in the Holy Land, but as Bishop Suheil Dawani noted to us, they play an important moderating role between the much larger Jewish and Muslim populations.  St. George’s School (and other institutions of the Diocese of Jerusalem) provide a significant opportunity for children of the region to develop lasting friendships and mutual understanding.

After a hearty Middle Eastern breakfast, we hear the fading roar of a leaf blower in the Biblical gardens on the Cathedral grounds. Sounds of the modern city rise outside the Cathedral close: car horns bleating, clanks of metal mingle with birds chirping in the green oasis of the garden trees, children’s and teachers’ voices from the school classrooms above us, whisper of breezes in the trees.

Climbing the Ottoman walls of the Old City, we enjoy wonderful vistas of the narrow crowded suk, the elevated rooftops and life of the Old City as well as the newer city beyond the walls on the west side and the Mount of Olives and Jordanian hills to the east.

Sisters of Charity - Kitty

Walking above the Christian Quarter we spot workmen below and a Catholic priest in black with a magenta sash supervising from a balcony above. He nods and says hello. Sisters of Charity in their white and blue saris hurriedly gather their wash from the lines as a rare rain fell at midday, and a Palestinian woman doing the same gathering in smiles as we pass. The Old City roofs bristles with dish antennas and solar water tanks that evidence the many people who live within the walls.

Rooftops - Kitty

Suddenly  the Dome of Rock on the Haram al Sharif (the noble sanctuary) comes

into view, just as the midday call to prayer echoes across the Old City

from several mosques and church bells ring out.

 Dome of the Rock - Kitty

Later at the Armenian Cathedral of St. James, we hear the muffled soundof monks striking wooden boards as the call to evening service.  It is a holdover from the Ottoman era when ringing church bells was forbidden.

St James- Kitty

Before Friday dinner we gather in the Cathedral courtyard to talk and enjoy the cool of the evening. Suddenly amplified Hebrew blares as a vehicle with loudspeaker makes several rounds in the neighborhood, calling the Jewish faithful to observe Shabbat. But we and the vehicle are in Palestinian East Jerusalem. This call is not a helpful reminder for non-Jews but more like an intrusion or even a provocation. Even sounds can carry overtones of intent, good and bad.

Our first evening in Jerusalem, as dusk fell, we heard the muezzin’s amplified call to prayer at the small mosque up the street from St. George’s. The mosque bright lit with typical green neon lights, the color green representing Mohammed’s favorite color.

Mosque-Kitty_0458

These unfamiliar sounds remind us that we Christian visitors are a minority here, but tied to this place by shared Biblical stories.  Though we visitors and sojourners will leave with memories and impressions, we do not live with the daily challenges of this much beloved and conflicted land.  Our work is to carry the life and witness of  those who create a holy life and a new hope in this long contested land.

Kitty