If we believe that Jesus brought the message of peace, the tumult in his era seems remarkably similar to this era of occupation, repression, religious zealotry, corrupt leaders etc. Yet, 2014 could be summed up as the year in which the parameters of the struggle were made much clearer. It is a struggle between the elite rich who have increasingly pushed for more police and military to protect their gains and suppress the 99.9% of the world that is suffering. From Ferguson to Gaza to Kobani, the struggle continues.
In this year, we need to remember the tragedy that is Gaza, the tragedy that is Jerusalem, the tragedy that is Palestine, but we also reflect on hope that is like the story of resurrection seems to capture hearts and minds of millions of people. Yes, we did suffer the incalculable loss of thousands of Palestinians butchered this summer in Gaza. We remember that despite the promises given by politicians, Gaza became even more isolated and the noose tightened on the lives of 1.6 million human beings. Egyptian and Israeli governments seems hell-bent on strangling any remaining potential for normal life. The situation is dire and getting worse daily. Thousands of common people did help and we sent some money and some supplies but the situation demands more. The same is also true for Jerusalem, where Judaization efforts are accelerating (which includes ethnic cleansing of native Palestinians and removing/threatening our religious, cultural and historical infrastructure). Trigger happy soldiers and settlers still kill Palestinians almost every other day with impunity.
But let me talk of the positive things. Hundreds of Christians from around the world attended the conference marking the fifth anniversary of the launch of the Kairos Palestine document. The conference was appropriately themed around living with dignity. In my lecture, I spoke of a long history of struggle to live with dignity, resistance and hope. Life also goes on for our little extended family (and I mean by that students and volunteers who work with us). This year we marked a new milestone as we launched the Palestine Museum of Natural History in the summer. We worked very hard to make sure the first public activity at the museum was a success: a large science festival where hundreds of children from 14 schools (one kindergraden) came to the Museum and did some very important experiments (touch, feel, do) from 20-29 November. The feedback from students and teachers was amazing. We also built a pool and started to do planting and permaculture work on site which
will become a beautiful natural botanical garden in the middle of Bethlehem. Much more work is needed. We are always looking for volunteers (for all sorts of tasks from gardening to computers to scientific research) and we are beginning to explore and ask for potential funding. To help us, please visit: volunteering and donations.