Saturday, 9 August 2014

O that my eyes were a fountain of tears.....

Gaza may be small   – something like 50km by 10 km – its c  360Km2 about the size of the Isle of Wight !   But being small and living cheek by jowl is no excuse for Hamas (alegedly) using human shields or firing rockets from hospitals or schools – although there are a lot of myths about this and I’m not sure I believe the propaganda …

And I suppose its a matter of perspective – resistance fighters in WW2 are seen as heroes – and ‘collaborators’ as traitors.  But it really does depend which side you’re on....

And peace is the only side to be on in the Israel-Gaza conflict. 

It’s not black and white. There are no goodies and baddies.  But I have enormous sympathy for the citizens of Gaza who were being strangled by the blockade, before the rockets and the bombings. And for Israelis and their desire to live in safety, but…….  

a friend of mine Tanas Al Qassis  A Palestinian Christian who works for CMS wrote some wise words:
'If I were part of the Israeli government, I would invest in the Palestinian economy, make people flourish, be sure they have enough food, medicine and schools. This way, I will ensure that Israel will be safe.'
I have been watching far too many images from Gaza and Iraq  and am lost in the horror of what is going on …. 

All I / we can do is pray (and silence is so much better than words) and somehow hold on to hope …
a friend of mine posted the following quote:  “The world is a messy place. Particularly in the context of the digital age where the noise of data can feels tsunami-like. Your job …. is to translate the noise of living into sounds that people can hear. De-cluttered writing is the art of bringing the noise level down”.  Ravi Koli

I have turned to song as a way of translating the noise into sound that people can hear…..  And this one does it for me ….Sinead O’Connor – If You Had A Vineyard   from the album Theology  – ’

'O that my eyes were a fountain of tears that I might weep for my poor people’

Friday, 8 August 2014

Eyeless in Gaza


Banksy-gaza.jpg Painting of Hope in the Gaza Strip Barrier Wall On June 2002 in the Occupied territories a concrete barrier walls were being erected.

I have read Malanie Phillip's  Times article about not getting the real truth about Gaza  and still think the Israeli response is disproportionate ....

I am no supporter of Hamas and their tactics, but Israeli bombing of Gaza is inhumane  - the casuality figures speak from themselves.  I think the same about Hirohima and Nagasaki (which we remember this weekend) and also allied 'smart' bombing in Afghanistan.  

The 'Muddle East' is very complicated and evades any attempts to make it clear distinctions between goodies and baddies. And once the dogs of war are released everything gets even messier. But the killing of so many civilians is not a proper response.  
In all of this dreadful conflict, I have found Colin Chapman’s article below most helpful….  Trying to make sense of Gaz   It's on the Fulcrum website  Just one quotation from the article:
If some Palestinians have not been supporters of Hamas and blamed it for the escalation of the fighting in the last two weeks, the ferocity of Israeli attacks on Gaza has probably had the effect of rallying widespread support for Hamas and its demands. One of the lessons of the Northern Ireland peace process was that there was no significant breakthrough until all parties – including those regarded as being extreme – were brought into the political process. …
Also BBC today had an article on life in Gaza  (Here is a more up to date trip from May 2014  of Mosaic conference)  It brought back memories ....

I visited there as part of a delegation  (Feb 2002) when I was Regional Director for CMS and have seen the situation first hand (I know it was many years back) but it helps to identify and imagine what people are going through. Re-reading the report of the visitI realise, of course, nothing ever changes ....  The endless cycle of violence keeps repeating itself. 

 The reference to Samson as possibly the first suicide 'bomber (below) made me think of the play I'd studied at school: 'Eyeless in Gaza' (hence the title of this blog)   O that we would have eyes to see ..... and know how to pray  ...
‘Pray not for the Jew or Muslim or Christian, Israeli or Palestinian or Arab; pray rather for ourselves, that we might not separate them in our minds but instead join them in our prayers.’

Report:  Across the lines (CMS, Feb 2002) DAY 8   Gaza   Suhaila Tarazi, Al Ahli Hospital, Gaza City
“Today began ominously. There had been several Israelis killed over the last few days, and Israel was in the mood for retaliation.
We went down to Gaza this morning, passed through the Eretz checkpoint where you choose either to be a VIP, diplomat, or international organisation/tourist. Palestinians are filtered off to enter what looks like a cross between a long tunnel and cattle grid, but of course there weren't any Palestinians today. Gaza has been closed for a long time. Most of its citizens are effectively prisioners. Over 100,000 Palestinian people used to work in Israel. Now they can't, and unemployment is at 60%.
The oppression of a people is nowhere more tangible than by taking the dusty road across Israel down to this strip of land - a mere 25 miles (along the coast), by 5 miles. Disconnected from the heartlands of Judea and Samaria (modern day West Bank), Gaza contains over 1 million people. Blown about by desert sand, Gaza City is more akin to Egypt or Pakistan than any town in Israel or even the West Bank….”
Katharine Maycock

“We made our way to the Al Ahli Hospital, founded by CMS in the 19th century and now run by the Anglican diocese: the only Christian hospital in Gaza where 3000 Christians live alongside 1 million Moslems! The hospital is quite simply a beacon of light in a desperately dark place.
We met the hospital administrator, Suhaila Tarazi. Suhaila is a saint. She is smart, vivacious, friendly and generous in her explanation of middle-eastern politics and the sufferings of the Gazans. She spoke about the desperation of the current situation and how desperate people do desperate things! She spoke of the desperation of Samson when he killed himself as well as his Philistine captors. Was he the first suicide bomber? The hospital feels poor and run down. There were memorials on the wall commemorating Welsh and Scottish soldiers who fell at the battle of Gaza in 1917. Gaza has seen too many battles.

We made our way to the chapel for a eucharist. The service there was simple but moving. The first sound of shelling left me unmoved: surely a sonic boom or the local quarry? But then more consistent sounds and this time it did seem like bombs. In fact it was Israeli F16 bombers. They were bombing a PLO prison in the centre of Gaza city, only about half a kilometer from where we were!! We shared the peace to the sound of war: a moment we will never forget. After the service we went up on the roof of the building to see the smoke pouring from the site: a bit scary and a bit unreal! Then comes the post-mortem. Where? When ? Why? How many? Is it safe to move yet? Just another day in Gaza! My God its crazy!”
Rev Daniel Burton

“Everyday, life is full of blood. Every day there is a new victim.”  Suhaila Tarazi, the Palestinian Director of Al Ahli hospital told us. “We are all children of Abraham – we are all brothers, but because of politics, ‘blood’ brothers.”