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.