Friday, January 2, 2009

An Awkward Wait

Well, January 2. For those of you in the know, I was supposed to leave for Zebabdeh, Palestine at 6:40 pm on December 29. Though there had been quite a lot of unrest in the Gaza Strip as of late, signs were good that I would be fine for departure for the West Bank as planned. However the morning of the 29th Mary called me and said that the Bishop of Jerusalem himself had recommended that I postpone my trip by at least thirty days. The finer points of the struggle can be found in the Electronic Intifada feed over there on the right hand side of the page, but the long and short of it is that beginning Saturday, Israel launched a series of rocket strikes against the Gaza Strip in retaliation for Hamas' rocket firings into Israel. By Monday morning well over 300 Palestinians had been killed, many of them civilians and children, and over 1400 had been injured, also largely civilians. As a result, there is widespread unrest throughout the Middle East, but the West Bank in particular. As of Monday morning there were rumblings in the streets of Jerusalem (where I was to be staying my first few days and during New Year's), and by Tuesday it became clear that my decision to postpone the trip was a good one, as protests and riots began to break out in Jerusalem and villages further north in the West Bank.

So in the meantime I am resigned to an awkward wait. My flight has been rescheduled for February 1, though there is little to no indication - at least to me - that the situation will have calmed down significantly by then. With no job and a lot of time on my hands, I'm left reading news feeds and pondering the awful silence on the part of the US government during all this.

With hawkish pro-Israel cabinet picks and a lingering non-comittalism on the "Palestinian Question," Obama has avoided the situation altogether. The White House is blaming the Palestinians, despite what many in the human rights activist communities are calling a blatantly lethal and out-of-proportion show of force on the part of the IOF (Israeli Occupying Army). We were promised as a nation to once again become a "beacon of hope" to the world (Obama, Sept 12, 2007), but we can never expect to lead by example as long as we not only allow, but support these kinds of atrocities.

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