Here in the Bethlehem area, a Palestinian area fully surrounded by Israeli military infrastructure, there are often protests on Friday afternoon that emerge as a result of the energy generated by the prayers and worship services at local mosques. These protests are about systemic injustice that privilege Israeli Jews over Palestinians living in the West Bank and Israel. This systemic injustice shows up in issues like water allocation, infrastructure development, and human rights abuses such as prison detention without trial for up to six months-renewable.
This week, at least one of the Friday protests featured hooded sweatshirts. Not because it was cold, but because the people of Palestine were standing in solidarity with Trayvon Martin, and saw their struggle for recognition and dignity as bound up with everyone else who moved to the streets to challenge the injustice of the system that produced the verdict. Many Palestinian young men face the same fate as Trayvon at the hands of Israeli military personnel and/or police.
Just like the communities of Bethlehem and others in Palestine, may the energy generated by worship in whatever faith or consciousness-raising community you may be a part of inspire you to public action for the common good. We are our brother’s and sister’s keepers, and they our keepers. Not to “stand our ground” against one another, but to extend and receive a hand of friendship, restorative justice, and solidarity. I recommend reading this article to generate ongoing discussion, and the poem by Langston Hughes about Kids Who Die.
Rahiel Tesfamariam speaks clearly on the issue this week on the Beatitudes Society blog and Urban Cusp: ““Believe me when I say that Trayvon did not die in vain. His death will birth more than we could have ever imagined. His name will be etched in history for having resurrected our community/ our country from any possible slumber we may have been in. We are awake. And ready. Are we not? To start, please sign this petition created by the NAACP calling on the Department of Justice to launch a civil rights investigation.””
Whether our feelings are moral outrage at the continual inequality and slaughter of our children’s future, or if the feeling is simply sadness or compassion, let us continue to act in pursuit of justice and peace. I believe that people of faith are desperately needed at this critical moment. Faith and values compel us to speak out against the violation of fundamental human and civil rights.
As Auburn Seminary Vice President John V. and Groundswell Founder Valarie K. wrote recently, “together as people of many traditions — Christians and Jews, Muslims and Buddhists, Hindus and Humanists, and other faith traditions — we can make a moral case for action, stepping past tired partisan rhetoric…the bloodshed in our communities again and again shows that we must work louder and stronger to channel our moral outrage into action.”
Kids and young adults from the group I’m leading interacting in Dheisheh Refugee Camp. Nearby political graffiti that shows a reversal of power imbalance between the soldier and the young girl.