HEBRON: Praying for the Peace of the City



December 5, 2001

HEBRON: Praying for the Peace of the City

By Anita Fast

“God shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples;

They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning


Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war

any more.

O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!” (Isaiah


If there was ever a time when I needed the Holy Spirit to pray the longings

of my heart it is now. How to pray, or what to pray for, in this time of

disgust, anger, grief, and anxiety? Every day I experience the humiliating

grind of the Israeli occupation as it eats away at every corner of life and

hope and sanity for the Palestinian people. And yet I do not nor can not

know the rage and despair that brings a young man to the point of clothing

himself in explosives and destroying the worlds of countless men, women,

and children he has deemed “enemy”.

Even less can I imagine the distress, the fury, the bitterness and the fear

that drives like a sharp knife into the hearts of Israelis as mothers,

fathers, and children yet again face the emptiness of a life without those

they have loved.

And so I am left to wrestle with my own hardened heart, which threatens to

close itself off against the pain of facing this bloody back-and-forth of

atrocity after atrocity. As hospitals in Jerusalem and Haifa still work

day and night to bind up the wounds of the victims of the recent suicide

bombings, Palestinian militants from Hamas announce that they will continue

to carry out attacks. As Palestinian cities are under attack by helicopter

gunships and tanks, Israeli sources say that the strikes are just the

beginning of Israel’s response.

At a time like this it seems to me useless, if not irresponsible, to point

fingers here and there at the one who started it. Perhaps from the time of

Cain and Abel we have been in a constant cycle of revenge and

counter-revenge. The prophet Isaiah’s vision of the days to come, when God

will judge between the nations, is a comfort to me at a time when no one

seems innocent. For, Isaiah clearly prophesies, God’s judgement and

justice does not result in one side claiming military victory, nor in the

eradication of the enemy, but rather in full reconciliation where the

weapons of war are beaten into the instruments of life and peace.

In the next few days, Christian Peacemaker Teams in Hebron will offer our

prayers for Jerusalem, for Haifa, for Gaza, Ramallah and Hebron in a silent

vigil at the edge of the market where we live. A banner, facing both onto

the main street Israeli settlers and soldiers use, and back into the market

where Palestinians shop, will read: “Praying for the Peace of the

City.” O house of Jacob; O house of Ishmael; O house of Jesus, come, let

us walk in the light of the LORD.


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