Pressure Cooker

Note: Members of the F.O.R. delegation have been writing reports every other day. The latest (for Nov. 3-4) is online. The first report is also available (for Nov. 1-2) on the website. Part of our travels today took us to meet with the Palestinian Human Rights organization Al-Haq. We also met today with Rotem Mor, an articulate young Israeli who has joined the growing movement of conscientious objectors. His gentle, thoughtful, spiritual, articulate manner are inspiring. He works with high school seniors in the Shministim. "Do you cry when you see a Palestinian child killed?" The question is posed to us by a young woman at Birzeit University. It's a question that speaks volumes. When I was here two years ago, nearly all of the Palestinians I met would quickly differentiate between American politics and American people. "If you're here," the reasoning went, "you must not be supportive of American policy." The line seems to be blurring more and more, though. We are the power behind the throne, the financial prop that supports Israel - for good and for ill. The Occupation of Iraq is linked to the Occupation of Palestine. I feel it the whole time we are on campus.

Do we cry? What kind of question is that? Of course we do. Only a monster wouldn't cry at the death of a child. Or is it that they think we're monsters? "It's very nice that you cry," one professor remarks. "But you are still complicit, because it is your taxes which are supporting this Occupation." It's a sharp comment - more direct than I'm used to from Palestinians. Something has changed - or has it?

Everywhere we go, we see the hardships. West Bank cities have been closed down to one entrance and exit, and access to the outside world is limited to those who have the necessary permits. The Wall is an oppressive reality, present on every hillside. Poverty is rampant. Unemployment is skyrocketing. While there is talk of peace, there seems to be little progress towards peace. It seems that little changed in the last two years.

Except for one thing: the checkpoint lines are shorter - much shorter. It seems that resignation has set in, that Palestinians have resigned themselves to make it as much as they can in their open air prisons. Where there is resignation, there is frustration. And where there is frustration, the pressure builds. It is palpable.

This oppression must stop. No one should have to live like this. It is unconscionable. If not for the sake of the Palestinians, then for the sake of the Israelis. If not for their sake, then for the sake of the Americans. If not for our sake, then for the sake of morality itself.