One of the tenets of Liberation Theology is that Christ suffers along with the oppressed. The verse from the Spiritual “Nobody knows the trouble I seen, nobody knows like Jesus” resonates not only in the African American Church, but in other communities hungering for justice, believing that God has not abandoned them.
Over the next few days, I’ll be sharing a series of reflections by Christian Peacemaker Teams in Hebron about their faith in the light of Palestinians’ suffering under occupation:
Join in the “Way of the Cross in Occupied Palestine,” a Lenten campaign to raise awareness of the suffering of the Palestinian people living under Israeli military occupation. These short reflections connect contemporary parallels to the themes found in the Stations of the Cross, a tool used for reflection on the suffering and death of Christ.
As this reality of violence runs parallel to the suffering of Christ, the campaign encourages participating churches to engage in direct actions that highlight the violence and injustice of life under military occupation in Palestine.
As we recall Jesus standing before Pilot, who represents the Occupying Roman Forces, and the full weight of the Roman Empire, let us meditate on a scene happening now in Hebron.
Six Palestinian youths, around 15 or 16, the oldest 18 and 19, stand before the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF)* … accused by a settler woman of breaking and entering her home. Not knowing what would happen to them, they stand with their arms raised, hands on metal doors, legs apart and some of them still in the thin clothing they were wearing at home when the IOF came to arrest them,. For close to four hours of standing in the cold, they endure a heckling crowd of settlers, being blindfolded, handcuffed and finally taken away to the police station where police continued to question and finally released them after midnight. At a checkpoint on their way home, a soldier tore up one of their IDs.
Six teenagers… whose actual `crime’ was discovered to be; breaking through a fence into an open square near the settlers’ housing area to look for scrap metal. Even though their Palestinian families gave witness on their behalf they were condemned by the word of a settler, with two now facing a hearing and the rest with their names on the Israeli police list of potential `terrorists’.
For a photo of this incident,click here
Jesus Takes Up His Cross
By Joy Ellison
When the chief priests and the guards saw [Jesus] they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him. I find no guilt in him.” … They cried out, “Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your king?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha. John 19: 6, 15-17
For 40 years, Palestinians have born the cross of military occupation. Palestinians have lost their land, their homes, their olive trees, their cultural traditions, and their lives. Throughout these 40 years, people around the world, but especially Christian Zionists, have offered their support to the Israeli military occupation of Palestine. Because the unconditional support our governments offer the state of Israel, we are complicit in the suffering of the Palestinian people.
Jesus Falls the First Time Under the Weight of His Cross
By Jean Fallon
We see Jesus falling the first time beneath the weight of the cross… the full weight of the Roman Empire! It is someone crushed and un-recognizable, beaten down by soldiers of the Occupying Roman Forces and the unseen power behind Jesus’ condemnation. Let us continue the meditation, Jesus in Palestine now. We see scenes of several years ago in the Beq’qa Valley, Hebron. Standing with the Christian Peacemakers Teams we are like the crowd, forced to stand by as helpless witnesses.
August 1998: members of two Palestinian families sit dazed and crying before their fallen homes, now utterly crushed and unrecognizable! For one family, this is the second time! The remains of their houses, built with such hope on their own land, now represents a bleak future for themselves and their children, and all that is left of their life savings. The Israeli Occupation Forces,* enforcers for the Occupiers, (the State of Israel), had come, guns at ready, just before sunrise, driving the families outside… with them come bulldozers, demolishing the houses in a total of five minutes. Left are heaps of rubble and the families, sitting in the cold, with nothing but the heavy weight of their lost homes.
These Palestinian families have held the land for generations, but above them on the top of a hill are `Settlements’, the unseen power demanding this action to clear this area of `Arabs’ in order to take over this whole area.
*Some members of Christian Peacemaker Teams follow the practice among peace activists in the Occupied Territories in referring to what Israel calls the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) as the Israeli Occupation Force (IOF).
Reprinted with Permission from Christian Peacemaker Teams
Cross-posted at Street Prophets