How long oh Lord? The cry of the psalmist.
A 2002 book edited by Maurine and Bob Tobin asked ‘How Long O Lord?’ A compilation of Christian, Jewish and Muslim voices from the ground, the voices cried out then in ways similar to Dick Toll’s cry in this reflection. The EPF PIN member and long a key leader with Friends of Sabeel North America, talks about the situation on the ground in Palestine/Israel as the 10th International Conference of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center ‘Jesus Christ Liberator – Then & Now – Facing the Legacy of Injustice’ ends.
For 34 years I have been coming to Palestine/Israel. Each time I come with hope. I leave with despair. 160 internationals from 15 countries gathered in Bethlehem and Nazareth at the tenth international conference of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem. The conference addressed:
100 years of Great Britain’s Balfour Declaration in 1917 that opened the door for Zionists to begin taking land from the Palestinians to make a homeland for the Jewish people.
70 years ago that the United Nations partitioned Palestine and gave 53 percent of Palestine to Jewish people and the remaining 47 percent to Palestinians.
And then 50 years ago the Zionists took the the remaining 22 percent of Palestine and occupied it with military force. Since that occupation the state of Israel has transferred 600,000 settlers into the Palestinian Territories in opposition to international law.
Three million Palestinians are under military occupation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Two million Palestinians are under siege and occupation in Gaza.
Two million Palestinians in the state of Israel are second class citizens since they are not Jewish. Many laws of discrimination have been passed in the Knesset against Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Six million Palestinian refugees (and now their children) forced out of Palestine in 1948 and 1967. Over 500 villages and towns were destroyed by the Zionists in 1948 and the population of those towns and villages became refugees, now living throughout the world, some still in refugee camps in Bethlehem, Jerusalem , Jordan, Lebanon and Syria
The Psalmist asks, ‘How long oh Lord?’
There is an unsustainability to the military occupation. It violates human rights through its use of military laws that exclude Palestinians from travel, visiting Jerusalem and their holy sites , from education opportunities and permits for building homes, as confiscation of land and house demolitions continue.
The State of Israel is losing its soul over what they have done and are doing to the Palestinians as they continue to claim land from the Palestinians and as settlers do so in the name of their God.
The State of Israel is a nation state that needs to be criticized as any nation state. But the State of Israel refuses to abide by international law. They resent any criticism and call people antisemitic that dare to criticize them for an illegal military occupation. So the church remains silent as thousands upon thousands of human rights violations occur in the occupied territories.
And in Gaza thousands are killed, live under siege and occupation. Medical supplies are not available. Water is not drinkable. Israel does not adhere to the Oslo accords on fishing rights.
Collective punishment (illegal under international law) of Palestinians has been a continuing policy of the military occupation.
How long oh Lord?
It depends on people of good will who will challenge a system of a nation state that does not adhere to international law and violates standards of human rights that is acknowledged by every religious group in the world including many Jewish people inside Israel and around the world.
How long oh Lord?
It seems that God is waiting for people like you and me to do something.