Jacob’s Blog 2
Yesterday was deeply challenging, and yet, I felt drawn so much closer to God. We visited Jerusalem and saw many of the historic religious sites from Al Aqsa Mosque, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (the site of Jesus crucifixion and resurrection), the Stations of the Cross (the route Jesus walked), and the Western Wall where Jews gather to pray and be close to original site of the temple. All of this was deeply moving and I’ll write about it more another time.
However, the day was challenging in a number of ways. We travelled from Bayt Jala in Bethlehem by bus to Jerusalem and had to enter Israeli Area C territory through a checkpoint – something the Palestinians heading through having to do every day and it isn’t always smooth. The Israeli Police and military are often rude and abusive to the Palestinians, often leading to violent arrests. We also started our journey of the stations of the cross at the site where a young autistic Palestinian man (Eyad Al-Halliq) was killed by Israeli police without good cause – he is known here as another victim like George Floyd, yet the world didn’t cry out for him.
Returning to the hotel, we went through the other checkpoint into Bethlehem, Checkpoint 300, which is the checkpoint the majority have to use. It is a walking checkpoint and it resembles a prison, and something you’d expect to find at the Berlin Wall. Later that evening, after we’d returned through the checkpoint, one of our pilgrimage leaders was travelling from his home in Jerusalem to Bethlehem to lead our debrief for the day, and he couldn’t get into Bethlehem – the checkpoint was closed randomly with not notice and for no particular reason.
The Palestinian people are so resilient and yet in the face of what is undoubtedly a crime against humanity, they continue to be warm, welcoming and hospitable. Being in Palestine is like living in the Fifth Gospel, one that speaks of injustice and parallels to the life of Christ, and therefore we have hope because despite death and injustice being a daily occurrence,
there is hope and there will be resurrection.
Jacob Holme is a Youth Worker at St Andrew’s Fulham Fields (London) in the Church of England. He has been sponsored by a kind Sabeel-Kairos supporter to attend the Young Adults conference by Sabeel Jerusalem. [All photos are Jacob’s].