I am in Hebron, located in the Judean Hills, south of Jerusalem in the Holy Land. Although this place is on the other side of the world from my home in Brownsville, Texas, many things here are similar to what we experience in the Rio Grande Valley.
As people of color, Palestinians have to put up with daily harassment from the IDF (Israel Defense Force), just as our brothers and sisters of color coming from México and other parts of the world are harassed by the CBP (Customs and Border Patrol).
In Israel, if you are a Muslim, Arab, or Palestinian whether you are four years old or twenty, you are probably considered a “terrorist.” Chances are, the thinking goes, you are preparing to hurt the Jewish community. North American Anglos think that if you are not white, you become automatically a threat to the nation, and thus you must be removed.
Operation End Game, a plan implemented in 2003 by U.S. Homeland Security to remove all illegal aliens and possible terrorists, is the same game the Israeli government plays to get all Palestinians out of the territories it occupies. According to the state of Israel, Palestine in not a state, and therefore as a Palestinian you have no citizenship, and therefore no right to remain in your homeland.
And so they build a wall; they separate families; they harass people in the worst possible ways in a systematic effort to remove these “illegal aliens.”
People on the Palestine side of the wall suffer because they cannot see their close relatives, they cannot travel to their holy sites, and they cannot bury their dead – an experience that many of my friends and relatives in Brownsville and other parts of the Valley share.
We are miles and miles apart, but what happens here and there, there and here, is the same – yes, I will say it – the same racism perpetrated by those who look at us as “terrorists,” as “illegal aliens,” as objects that need to be removed.
The leaders of our nations build walls of violence against our peoples – walls of political corruption, of ignorance, of mistrust; walls intended to create fear of the “other.”
The walls that separate Israel from Palestine and the U.S. from Mexico break our communities into pieces. These barriers make it impossible to have normal lives, to maintain normal family and human relations. These walls are a symbol of shame for our nations.
My only hope is that, I, rooted in my Christian faith, continue to believe that the Gospel will break down the dividing walls of hostility among us all.
“For Christ is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of hostility that kept us apart.”
– Ephesians 2:14 (the Inclusive Language New Testament)