October 23, 2019
By Neal Halvorson-Taylor
Mary and Joseph crossed hills and valleys
to be counted here by their Roman occupiers.
Tall, cement walls cut into hills and valleys
For miles and miles.
To cross it,
Palestinians stand in line for hours
With permits and identification,
Taking off belts and shoes and dignity,
Emptying their backpacks, pockets, humanity.
To travel from Bethlehem to Jerusalem,
A short distance through an urban landscape,
We take a cab to a checkpoint crossing,
Walk up a ramp, go through turnstiles,
Place our things and bodies to be scanned,
Open our passports, cross the line.
We went through the Erez Crossing,
A tense, tedious security process,
Israeli military first,
and then Hamas,
Show permits, open bags.
Cross into Gaza. Cross into trauma.
Walls and crossings ensure Israeli security,
Conventional life behind them
Guarded by young soldiers and high-tech weaponry
Keeping watch on the restricted inhabitants.
Fear met the holy child.
Fear builds walls.
Fear covers the land like a layer of desert dust.
How to shake it off?
How to cross into the danger of humanizing the other?