Sunday, March 6, 2011

Is there anyone home?

Roger Waters, the leader of the great rock and roll band, Pink Floyd, has joined the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaign against Israel.  He now joins the ranks of others, including Pete Seeger and Elvis Costello. Here is yet another example of someone who only appears to see the issue from one side.  His one sided view is most apparent.  To read his statement is to read a treatise that only gives voice to Palestinian grievances and not Israeli fears.  He appears woefully uninformed about the facts.

Here is part of what Waters said: "In my view, the abhorrent and draconian control that Israel wields over the besieged Palestinians in Gaza, and the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank (including East Jerusalem), coupled with its denial of the rights of refugees to return to their homes in Israel, demands that fair minded people around the world support the Palestinians in their civil, nonviolent resistance."  Read his entire statement on the Alternative Information Center website, an Israeli-Palestinian NGO that ostensibly advocates for peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

But not every wall is a prison.  Listening (again) to the words of  "Another Brink in the Wall, Part II" you come to realize that this might be the only way that Waters can see things.  Schools also have walls, and many teachers do some great teaching there, but Waters takes his pop song as gospel: "We don't need no education.  We don't need no thought control.  No dark sarcasm in the classroom.  Teachers leave them kids alone.  Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!  All in all it's just another brick in the wall.  All in all you're just another brick in the wall."  Despite his views, I still really like the song, but I also remember the terrorism that built the walls that are the object of Waters' scorn.

I was in Israel during some of the worst days of March 2002.  I was there when the Moment Cafe was bombed and eleven young Israelis lost their lives and over fifty were injured.  It was actually one of the restaurants my friends and I thought of going to that Saturday night, but settled on another choice instead.  All of those bus bombings still make my heart race whenever a bus stops at a traffic light, idling close to me as I wait to cross the street.  I do believe that fear should not rule our decisions, that the object of terrorism is to instill fear and therefore I promise myself again and again that I will not succumb.  And so I refuse to allow fear to rule my heart.

Nonetheless the security fence and its walls have indeed made life safer for Israelis.  It is reasonable for a country's citizens to expect to live in relative safety and security.  Only time will tell if the leadership of the West Bank will be able to continue to police its own citizens and prevent terror attacks from within its territory.  The last few years have shown positive developments in this area, in large part due to the leadership of Salam Fayad, but who may now be forced out of office by his political opponents.  Perhaps, I hope and pray, we will soon be able to take down parts of the security fence.  But we will only be able to dismantle it together.  Israelis and Palestinians must sit down and negotiate. On the other hand, from the Gaza Strip under its Hamas leaders rockets continued to be fired at Israeli citizens.  You cannot sit and talk under such circumstances.  If the "wall" that surrounds Gaza is a prison, then it is of Hamas' making.  For Israel it provides safety and security much like the walls of any school or home do. 

Hey Waters, listen to another song:  "Come on now.  I can hear you're feeling down.  I can ease your pain.  Get on your feet again.  Relax.  I'll need some information first.  Just the basic facts.  Can you show me where it hurts?"

Recently we watched "Lemon Tree" at my congregation.  Its conclusion is devastating.  The security fence does indeed cause pain on both sides.  I recognize that.  It saddens me.



If forced by today's circumstances I choose this devastating pain over terror attacks. Any reasonable person would make the same choice.  Life comes first.  Then again, some remain comfortably numb.

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