What is the TRUTH?
By Father Peter Daly
With permission to Al-Bushra Website by Fr. Daly himself
Fr. Peter Daly is a Roman Catholic Priest from St. John Vianney Parish in Prince Frederick, MD. He returned back from the piligrimage in April, 1997
"When our parish pilgrimage left for the Holy Land last month, most of us pilgrims had the average American viewpoint on the Middle East: basically pro-Israeli. When we returned after 12 days in Israel, our views were changed and were much more sympathetic to the Palestinians.
Our visit was primarily a spiritual journey. We went to pray, not talk politics. But it is impossible to close your eyes and ears to the political drama unfolding there. It inevitably intrudes.
We could not ignore the sight of ambulances racing toward the Jordanian border after a shooting incident. Nor could we muffle the sound of Israeli jets screaming toward a bombing run in southern Lebanon. But even these things did not change our minds about the politics.
What did change our minds were the many limitations on human rights imposed on the Palestinians, a kind of segregation reminiscent of the worst of 1950's style segregation in our own country. It was easy to see why the Palestinians are so angry.
For example, Palestinians living in the West Bank are given blue license plates for their cars. Israelis are given yellow license plates. The blue license plates can not cross the Israeli police checkpoints called the "green line" to go to areas outside the West Bank. Yellow license plates, on the other hand, travel freely wherever they want.
Palestinians are not allowed to use the beach facilities at the Dead Sea at Ein Gedi, while Israelis and tourists have access to showers, fresh water and changing rooms.
Palestinians are not free to enter into Ben Gurion Airport without certain identification. Israelis suffer no such restriction. A member of our group was met by a Palestinian driver who had to wait outside the airport for her.
Palestinians can not enter Israeli-controlled areas to work without permission, and this permission can be suspended at any time. In the West Bank, Palestinian poverty is clearly grinding.
In Bethlehem we met a Catholic Palestinian who is a civil engineer. He could not find work in his profession because he has not been permitted to travel to Jerusalem, only ten miles away, for more than six years.
The most visible indignity that the Palestinians have suffered is the sight of the new Israili settlements around Jerusalem. We saw hillsides dotted with brand-new settlements for Jewish settlers -- very attractive housing built on land formerly belonging to Palestinians.
Sometimes the land was purchased by the Israelis, sometimes it was seized under "security" laws. But we noticed that many of these houses looked empty and were completely shuttered. We were told that many were unoccupied, but belonged to Americans who rarely if ever came to visit their Jerusalem condos. (Indeed, the Washington Post says 25 percent of the housing is unoccupied and therefore unneeded by Israel.)
Meanwhile, Palestinians within sight of these developments lived in the most crowded and squalid conditions.
Governments often promote tourism to promote understanding. In the case of our pilgrimage it did just that. It increased our understanding of the Palestinian cause."
For more Material about JERUSALEM! What is the TRUTH? Please visit Al-Bushra: http://www.al-bushra.org and pray with us, for Justice, Peace and TRUTH.