What do we when we know that others suffer and we are far from them? When we advocate and mobilise, but still, the terrible violations of human rights continue relentlessly, day after day?
According to the Geneva Convention(art 49, par. 6) the occupier (Israel) must protect the interests of the occupied party (Palestine and its people) and it may not settle parts of its own civil population there. But the government of Israel does not respect this law.
Moreover, the illegal inhabitants of the West Bank (Israeli settlers), the Israeli Civil Administration (a military body despite its name) and the Israel Defense Force (IDF) often join forces in the violation of human rights – and now to flatten two rural Palestinian villages where the civilians, none with criminal records – mothers, fathers, teenagers and children all with faces, hearts and dreams, have every right to live.
Here is a link to how it all fits together:
Does this leave us helpless? Absolutely not.
We CAN DO something. We can PRAY. This is an action.
How do we know that prayer works?
According to Dr Larry Dossey (a physician of internal medicine) consciousness is capable of things that brains are incapable of. He refers to a 1988 controlled study of the San Fransisco General Hospital which involved nearly 400 people, all of them in the coronary care unit.
The group that was prayed for appeared to do much, much better than the group which received no prayer. I went to the medical literature to see if there had been any previous studies involving prayer to support this. I was astonished to discover over 130 studies in this general area.
The thing is, the people who were prayed for, did not even know about the prayers. Dossey continues to say that:
One of the common features of prayerfulness that really makes a difference in the world is empathy, caring, compassion, love and so on. this has been demonstrated in the laboratory. It is clear that the experiments don’ work very well if a person does not have empathy, love, compassion and caring for the object or subject they are trying to influence. The experiments work so much better if there is an emphatic connection, a unity, a caring bond.
(Dossey, L. 1996. in Di Carlo, R.E. Towards a New World View. Epic Publishing: Erie.)
I think we should pray for both the Palestinians and those on the Israeli side – so that all can retain (or remember) their humanity.
(photo by Linda Baily from Whales)
My friend and EAPPI colleague Jan McIntyre organised a prayer vigil in Manitoba, Canada in light of the impending demolitions. This is her prayer:
Almighty and eternal God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we give thanks for your presence. You are our refuge in this troubled world.
In the birth of your son Jesus Christ in Bethlehem, you became one of us, sharing and understanding our humanity, our suffering and our problems.
We thank you that you took refuge in Egypt, identifying yourself with all who are refugees and victims of political power.
We thank you that you were crucified in Jerusalem, identifying yourself with every person who suffers and lives under occupation and injustice.
Loving God, we come before you now with all the troubles and pains experienced by your people in the Middle East.
We pray for all the victims of injustice and violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We pray for the people of Gaza and the West Bank who face daily injustice, hardship and cruelty. We pray for those who have experienced recent demolition of their homes and community buildings, and for those whose villages are at imminent risk of demolition. In particular, today we pray for the people of Susiya and Wadi J’Hesh. Give them courage to walk through these difficult days, and maintain in them a continued commitment to the principles and practice of non-violent resistance, even in the face of violence towards themselves.
As we pray for the residents of Susiya and Wadi J’Hesh, we pray also for the residents of other Palestinian villages throughout the South Hebron Hills and the entire West Bank who are facing significant demolition orders against their villages. Grant them the peace of knowing that whatever happens, you are with them. That the words “Allah Kareeem” – “God is generous and will see us through this”, may offer strength and sustenance in this time of trial.
We pray for the people of these villages, people like all of us. Mothers, fathers, children, aunts, uncles, friends. Ordinary folk…. Rural people who provide care for their sheep, their goats and their chickens. Farmers who tend to their crops. Children with school classes and homework. People – each one of them with hearts and faces and dreams.
We pray also for those who are responsible for injustices and all forms of violence. We pray for political and military leaders, and we pray for the young Israeli soldiers who, in following military orders, are required to participate as perpetrators in these horrific demolitions.
We pray for the Israeli settlers, that they might open their hearts to the ways of justice and peace with their neighbours.
We pray for the Israeli activists who work steadfastly towards a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Guide them as they share their desire and quest for peace with their fellow citizens.
We pray for the many internationals who work towards a just peace in this Holy Land, a just peace for both peoples.
We pray for the Israeli government and the Israeli people, that they may turn from this illegal military occupation and work towards a genuine peace with their Palestinian neighbours.
We pray that the Palestinian people will be open to working with the Israeli people towards a just peace for both.
We pray that fear on both sides may be overcome by trust and a mutual desire for the true well being of each other.
We pray that all involved may come to a place of respect and honour for the human dignity of one another. That each may recognize their shared humanity with the other, and their shared place within Creation.
We pray that you will open the eyes of the world towards justice and reconciliation in this place of conflict. Help us all to see that the security and freedom of one people is dependent upon the security and freedom of the other.
We pray for politicians around the world, but especially in Israel and Palestine, that they may realize that the security and peace we all long for will not come by the use of arms and force, but by living a mutual path of justice so that the two peoples together can work towards an equitable and peaceable shared future.
We give thanks today for those from around the world who are praying with us now as we pray, offering with us prayers for all those affected by the military occupation of Palestine, with special concern for the people of the South Hebron Hills villages of Wadi J’Hesh and Susiya. For those known to us, and for those unknown, we offer thanks as together we raise our prayers to you, O Holy One.
Holy Spirit, giver of life and new beginnings, help us to faithfully respond to God’s call to open ourselves to the pains of injustice of people wherever they may be, and to stand in solidarity with those who are hurting. May we, with our sisters and brothers around the world, open our hearts and confess our part in past injustices and find ways to build a just and secure future for all. Give us wisdom and courage in this difficult task. And when the pressures of the situation leave us in despair, come with your Light to show us the way and to renew our strength and hope.
We ask these, and all our prayers, in the name of Jesus, the Christ, Amen.