9 August 2011
BORDERLANDS REFLECTION: Walls of shame
García was part of the most recent Christian Peacemaker Teams delegation to
Israel/Palestine. Her reflection
has been edited for length.]
I am in Hebron,
located in the Judean Hills, south of Jerusalem in the Holy Land. Although this place 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 Forces), just as our brothers and sister of color coming from México
and other parts of the world are harassed by CBP (Customs and Border Patrol).
In Israel if
you are a Muslim, Arab, or Palestinian, you are probably a terrorist, the thinking
goes, whether you are four years old or twenty. Chances are 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 Israel government
plays to get all Palestinians out of the territories it controls. According 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 the wall, they separate families; they harass the people in the worst possible
ways, 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 away, but what happens here, and there, there and here, is the same—yes,
I will say it—the same racism from 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 people; walls of political corruption and lack of will,
of ignorance, mistrust; walls that create fear of the “others.”
The iron wall
here, as the border wall there, is a symbol that breaks our communities into
pieces. These barriers make it impossible to have normal lives, make it impossible to maintain normal family
and human relations. Walls are a symbol of shame for our nations.
My only hope,
is that rooted in my Christian faith, I continue to believe that the Gospel
will break down the dividing walls of hostility among us all.