Louis Bohté, onze vorige voorzitter, schrijft ons vanuit Bethlehem
 

Beste mensen,

Vrede en alle Goeds.

Bethlehem, 10 oktober 2010

 foto's

Afgelopen zondag vierden wij in Jeruzalem professiefeesten van broeders. Twee zijn 75 jaar geprofest. Zij zijn dan ook de negentig royaal gepasseerd. Ik was er ook en maakte van de gelegenheid gebruik te vragen naar de levertransplantatie. Het blijkt nog niet duidelijk te zijn, wanneer de operatie plaatsvindt.

’s Avonds was er de zogeheten transitus viering bij ons in de kerk, de overgang (transitus) van Franciscus naar het eeuwig leven 784 jaar geleden. Tijdens de receptie na afloop vertelt een zuster mij, dat Jack van het dak gevallen is. Hij heeft een lelijke smak gemaakt en daarbij 8 ribben gebroken en in zijn hoofd was er een bloedprop ontstaan. Hij is overgebracht naar een ziekenhuis in Oost Jeruzalem, waar hij in slaap werd gehouden. Dit wordt nu stap voor stap minder.

Dinsdag zoek ik zijn familie op: zijn moeder en zijn zoon om te zie hoe ik hen tot steun kan zijn. Zijn dochter zie ik gisteren. Zij hebben het niet gemakkelijk met hun vader Jack in het ziekenhuis in Jerusalem en hun moeder Mona in een verpleeghuis in Ramallah. In ieder geval is het belangrijk, dat zij zich niet alleen voelen staan.

Maandag vieren we het Franciscusfeest, ook bekend van Werelddierendag.

Dinsdag kom ik in het donker Gibriel tegen, die mij uitnodigt naar zijn huis te komen. Ik beloof hem dat de volgende dag te doen, maar dan is hij er niet. Wel zie ik twee zussen van hem en Ibrahim, die kennelijk er kind aan huis is. De jongste van de twee zussen valt mij op door haar felheid. Kijk maar naar haar ogen. Ik mag dat wel.

Wanneer ik ’s avonds thuis kom zie ik een rode loper uitgerold voor het Casa Nova hotel. Het blijkt dat de voorzitter van het IOC, Jacques Rogge, hier komt overnachten. De volgende morgen bezoekt hij de Geboortekerk en volgens de gardiaan, die hem rondleidt, toont hij interesse en enige kennis van zaken. Bij een keizer van het Romeinse Rijk wist hij te vertellen, dat die de Olympische Spelen verboden had.

Bezoeken aan mensen krijgen soms een onverwachte wending, als huiselijke problemen zichtbaar worden en ik er getuige van ben. Dan is het zaak om te zien, of en wat ik kan doen en dat ook te doen.

Donderdag ben ik eerst bij Anton in de naaiwinkel. Hij wijst op de problemen: zowel met Israël als tussen Christenen en Moslims. Over dit laatste spreek ik even later met Mike van de souvenirwinkel. Mike wijst op de problemen tussen Christenen en met name als er in de Geboortekerk weer eens gevochten wordt tussen de Grieks Orthodoxe en de Armeens Orthodoxe monniken. Het is een gênante vertoning, wat er wel toe leidt, dat Moslims zich afvragen, of Christenen te vertrouwen zijn, als zij, en met name hun leiders, zo met elkaar omgaan.

Ik weet dat er ook problemen opduiken, als verliefdheid een rol speelt tussen een Moslim en een meisje, dat Christelijk is.

Vrijdag komt een Duitse medebroeder met zeven mensen op bezoek: Markus Heinze. Ik kon hun overnachting regelen en het ophalen van het vliegveld. Verder probeer ik wat kontakten te leggen. Een ervan is al gelukt. Gisteravond heeft Mohammed Abu Alia met hen gesproken en hij maakte een sterke indruk op hen en op mij. Ik merk hoe goed hij zich ontwikkeld, zelfbewust en zorgvuldig. Een reden temeer om hem met zijn studie te steunen.

Vrijdag was ik in het Al Azza kamp en hoorde ik dat het personeel van UNRWA staakt. De achtergrond van de staking is, dat de UNRWA minder geld te besteden krijgt, wat zich vertaalt in loonsverlaging voor het personeel, terwijl de prijzen stijgen. Het personeel staakt hierom. Het betekent bijvoorbeeld, dat de leerlingen van de UNRWA scholen vrij hebben. Daar worden zij niet wijzer van.

Wisam was met zijn vader Sharif aan het werk om hun huis met kamers uit te breiden, wat mogelijk is dank zij het werk als bijna advocaat van Wisam. Alleen moet zijn moeder uitkijken met haar gezondheid.

Afgelopen week is begonnen met de restauratie van het dak van de Geboortekerk, dat tot april zal duren. Het heeft voor ons consequenties, want de gebruikelijk ingang van de poort van nederigheid is gesloten en moeten alle pelgrims via onze ingang binnenkomen. Dat geeft een behoorlijke drukte. Maar het is goed, dat dit gebeurt, want de Geboortekerk was dringend aan restauratie toe.

De vredesbesprekingen liggen weer stil. De toekomst ziet er duister en ongewis uit.

Komende week krijgt Nederland een nieuwe regering, waarbij degenen, die hieraan hebben bijgedragen, beloond worden met een ministerspost. Helaas maakt zoiets de bodem willig voor corruptie. En nu maar afwachten wat er aan beleid over ons heen komt. Ondertussen kan de rest in het politieke veld zich afvragen wat zij kunnen doen aan de opbouw van een vruchtbare politiek toekomst.

De laatste weken merk ik, dat een adres van mijn Engelstalige versie van mijn brief zondags niet aankomt bij mijn Israëlische vriendin, maar wel apart verstuurd op maandag. Techniek staat voor niets.

Een extra complicatie is, dat vanmorgen kort achter elkaar een aantal keren de stroom uitgevallen is, waardoor de internetverbinding verstoord raakte. Dit gebeurde juist voor de gebruikelijke tijd, dat ik deze brief zou versturen. Verder kreeg ik problemen met het opladen van de foto’s.

Ik wil nog op een website wijzen voor een alternatieve ekonomie: http://www.globalfair.net van Christof Hoyler.

De volgende link http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=321838 laat zien hoe een jonge vrouw vernederd wordt, geboeid en geblinddoekt.

Ik voeg twee aanhangsels aan toe: twee overwegingen, die de moeite waard zijn, de tweede.

De groeten uit Bethlehem,

Louis Bohté


De foto's van deze week

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This really makes you stop and think.

Believe it...Embrace it.......GOD has your back!!!

Excuse me, Are you Jesus? 

A few years ago a group of salesmen went to a regional sales convention in Chicago  . They had assured their wives that they would be home in plenty of time for Friday night's dinner.  In their rush, with tickets and briefcases, one of these salesmen inadvertently kicked over a table which held a display of apples.  Apples flew everywhere.  Without stopping or looking back, they all managed to reach the plane in time for their nearly-missed boarding  ALL BUT ONE!!!  He paused, took a deep breath , got in touch with his feelings, and experienced a twinge of compassion for the girl whose apple stand had been overturned.

 He told his buddies to go on without him, waved good-bye, told one of them to call his wife when they arrived at their home destination and explain his taking a later flight.  Then he returned to the terminal where the apples were all over the terminal floor.

 He was glad he did.

 The 16-year-old girl was totally blind!  She was softly crying, tears running down her cheeks in frustration, and at the same time helplessly groping for her spilled produce as the crowd swirled about her; no one stopping and no one to care for her plight.

 The salesman knelt on the floor with her, gathered up the apples, put them back on the table and helped organize her display.  As he did this, he noticed that many of them had become battered and bruised; these he set aside in another basket.

 When he had finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, "Here, please take this $40 for the damage we did.  Are you okay?" She nodded through her tears.. He continued on with, "I hope we didn't spoil your day too badly."

 As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind girl called out to him, "Mister...." He paused and turned to look back into those blind eyes. She continued, "Are you Jesus?"

 He stopped in mid-stride, and he wondered.  Then slowly he made his way to catch the later flight with that question burning and bouncing about in his soul: "Are you Jesus?"  Do people mistake you for Jesus?  That's our destiny, is it not?  To be so much like Jesus that people cannot tell the difference as we live and interact with a world that is blind to His love, life and grace.

 If we claim to know Him, we should live, walk and act as He would. Knowing Him is more than simply quoting Scripture and going to church.  It's actually living the Word as life unfolds day to day.

 You are the apple of His eye even though we, too, have been bruised by a fall.  He stopped what He was doing and picked up you and me on a hill called Calvary and paid in full for our damaged fruit.

 Please share this. IF you feel led to do so, if not, that's ok too.  Sometimes we just take things for granted, when we really need to be sharing what we know...Thanks.

The Spirit of Sukkot Contradicts Israel’s Occupation of Palestine

by: Rabbi Michael Lerner on September 27th, 2010

Sukkah photo courtesy of Jeremy Price (flickrcc/forestfortrees).

The following note from Rabbi Arik Ascherman raises for us a very important question: is it anything more than hypocrisy for Jews to dwell in sukkot this holiday, pretending to make ourselves vulnerable to material insecurity, when in fact we have huge material and military security but instead are imposing insecurity on the Palestinian people?

It’s a troubling question.

Rabbi Ascherman is the courageous chair of the Israeli branch of Rabbis for Human Rights in Israel, and his experience this week in the Silwan section of East Jerusalem gives us a better understanding of what is at stake in the demand by Palestinians that Israel continue its temporary ban on settlement building or expansions or home demolitions or evicting Palestinians from East Jerusalem, at least while the negotiations are continuing.

We in the U.S. might also add a note of our domestic hypocrisy in claiming to care about the poor and the oppressed, but allowing the Democrats to have spent this past year and a half providing almost no relief to those who are being thrown out of their homes for inability to pay off outrageously high mortgage rates — rates that were imposed on them by banks that made loans without adequately alerting the borrowers to the likelihood that their mortgages would be much more expensive soon.

We Jews at least should be giving this issue a much higher priority than our Jewish community has done so far.

Sukkot Thoughts — Rededicating Ourselves To Those Who Have No Homes, Or Whose Homes Are Endangered

by Rabbi Arik Ascherman

Today was quite a day. Shots rang out in Silwan at 3:30 am and a young Palestinian man is dead. One witness says he saw a jeep with private settler security guards far from any of the houses taken over by various Jewish groups in the East Jerusalem neighborhood. A guard claims his life was in danger. I was the first Israeli human rights activist to arrive on the scene. We didn’t know at that point how many people were injured or killed, and we were trying to help the residents get information from Magen David Adom and the hospitals. Internet news sites asked for permission to use a picture I took of the bloodstained spot where the man fell. Later Silwan erupted with stone throwing and tear gas. When the terrible truth came out, things got worse. One Israeli was stabbed, cars and busses damaged, rioting on the Temple Mount, arrests.

Meanwhile, we had planned for the Ghawi family to put up a Sukkah. We hoped that the police would not tear it down as they tore down their various tents opposite their now taken over home in Shekh Jarakh, since the eviction in August 2009. We thought that maybe Jewish and Palestinian children decorating together might soften their hearts. The Sukkah was torn down and destroyed.

However, none of this is what I had wanted to write about:

On Sunday I finally had an opportunity to meet with representatives of the 40 families in Beit Sha’an who have received eviction notices from their Amidar homes (Public housing). I was floored. Even in the Occupied Territories, I have rarely seen such terrible housing conditions. One family was crowded into a poorly built and probably dangerous roos, with a makeshift outhouse without a roof. Sukkot always raises my consciousness about housing. As I tell my children, living in a rickety and fragile structure in to which the rain penetrates should sensitize us to those who live in such conditions all year long, or who have been thrown out of their homes, or whose homes have been demolished. I therefore hope that all of you will make the effort this Sukkot to participate in at least one of our holiday activities in El-Arakib or Sheikh Jarakh. (And sign up for the olive harvest.) As Beit Sha’an demonstrates, those we must be thinking of, praying for, and committing to act on behalf of are not just residents of East Jerusalem or unrecognized villages.

We are also approaching the 10th anniversary of the bloody events of October 2000. We should remember the as yet unheeded recommendations of the Orr Commission, and their determination that discriminatory land policies implemented by all Israeli governments towards Israeli Arabs leads to home demolitions and potentially explosive anger.

Although I met the families in Beit Sha’an for the first time this week, dedicated activists have been working with them for months. Many of the activists are the same activists to be found in Sheikh Jarakh, giving lie to the canard that they are concerned only about non-Jews. More amazingly, some of the Beit Sha’an residents have come to Sheikh Jarakh. Just as common oppression has led to amazing partnership between Jewish participants (now former participants) in the Israeli Wisconsin Plan from Hadera and Arab participants from Wadi Ara, we can gain some comfort from the fact that oppression sometimes helps people see beyond their own situation to grasp a wider picture. I wish it would happen otherwise. Sukkot was also the holiday that in the Temple we offered sacrifices for all the nations of the world and prayed for rain for all, perhaps understanding that there are certain blessings that all enjoy, or none enjoy. If we can build on our universal consciousness, the fragility of life we recall on Sukkot can re-motivate us to activism that could really make Sukkot the “Season of Our Joy” we are told that it should be.

Khag Sameakh (For A Joyous Holiday of Activism)

I also encourage you to read Mark Kirschbaum’s piece on Sukkot, and check out the other articles that Mark has written as part of his weekly Torah commentary on tikkun.org.
 

4 Responses to “The Spirit of Sukkot Contradicts Israel’s Occupation of Palestine”

  1. Just Jack says:

September 28, 2010 at 11:42 am

Excellent blog post. The truth-telling in R. Ascherman’s piece is especially important to us in the U.S. because Israel’s behavior is an extreme extension of what has, and continues to happen here.

Something that continually strikes me when I read statements like this, “rates that were imposed on them by banks that made loans without adequately alerting the borrowers to the likelihood that their mortgages would be much more expensive soon.”

On the face of it, the statement is surely true. I suppose this idea comes from those in a higher class position than those who have actually lived, or are still living, through the foreclosure boom (because that’s exactly what’s going on, ask any honest person in banking–banks are utterly unwilling to modify loans, despite popular belief that no bank would want to foreclose and lose a loan. This is a culturally buried fact studied and well documented by more than a few progressive think tanks, even a few conservative ones, and muckracker journalists). It’s a popular believe that people were merely uninformed of the bad terms of the loans and this is why “good people” lost their homes along with the “bad people.” But the substantive truth is much worse than “being informed.”

Being alerted of a loan with usurious terms is irrelevant, much in the way it is utterly irrelevant, and patently untrue, that a person tracking their credit reports (freecreditreport-dot-com marketing hook is a prime e.g. of a this myth in action) or knows their credit score is sufficient to avoid problems. Is it good to be aware of trouble? Certainly. But does mere awareness actually empower a person to change their circumstances in a rigged top-down system? Absolutely not.

[Just try to change your credit report to be more accurate or to reveal your side of the story. The reporting company line is--this is right out of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, read all of it, not the congressional marketing promise--only the creditor can make changes to your report. It is their report for their industry's use, not yours (that's why you only get one freebie a year, and only because the FCRA says so).]

These owning-class originated slights-of-hand are beyond insulting to hard working lower class people who share with those of the owning classes the fundamental human right to sufficient and meaningfully sustainable shelter. The dirty little secret no one is willing to discuss is the all too familiar lived-experience of the lower class working person: they have every right to own their own shelter rather than accept subjugation of a landlord by renting (especially at higher rates than that of even conventional non-usurious mortgages), but for the owning/middling class belief and popular “wisdom” that insists lower class people are “poor risks” and are somehow “not deserving” of home ownership. The lower class folks who have dared challenge this secret in public are often smashed down with “stop whining” and “get a real job.”

No lower class person actually bought or even wanted to buy a McMansion. We were typically stuck with condos (which over the life of any mortgage s actually more expensive than a single family home) the only shelter we “qualified for,” primarily because we are grossly underpaid by owning class employers in the first place. Almost everyone in the lower class that lost their home ultimately did so because of the usury on the part of the lender, the upside down “wisdom” and “financial savvy” of the owning class that says poor people are a higher risk so they should only “qualify for” more expensive terms (if anything the people without the privileges and advantages need the better less expensive terms–that’s actual common sense). We in the lower classes who lost our homes lost them because we had no choice in the method of purchase. It’s not like we didn’t know how to negotiate (although many don’t because the rules we live by teach us to submit, accept, do what you’re told or else do without). It was the powerful lenders who banded together, got legislation enacted exclusively in their favor and then made loans non-negotiable; for we lowers it was always accept the usury or keep flushing money down the toilet on rent, something that absolutely deprives any human being of meaningful shelter and empowerment. Many lower class borrowers who balked at the despicable and untenable terms were told on closing day, “this is closing. If you back out, we’ll sue you.” To a person accustomed to such rules, what’s the “choice”? Sign the four inch stack of papers.

Americans need to complain about the usury by wealthy mortgage companies, run and owned by the owning-class from within their class values and cultural wisdom, not merely the failure to alert borrowers of unethical loan terms. Demand that change, not the window dressing of informing the borrower that the lender is about to make them a bad-faith deal. The latter preserves the secret and perpetuates the power imbalance, the class war waged by the uppers against the lowers.

I’ll never forget the letter from Senator Boxer in response to our situation, a high school teacher and an artist losing their home because an unequal power relationship existed between mortgage companies and our relatively fixed lower income combined with the lender’s unilaterally, non-negotiable, usurious terms (when apparently, all along we actually did qualify for a conventional, significantly less expensive loan–we were told, “you’re a writer and she’s a teacher. This is the best I can do for you”–a lie). Boxer’s response to the substantive usury and coercion issues we raised was, “…we’re working on requiring lenders to disclose mortgage terms more clearly.” What?! Owning class wisdom at work: we reserve the right to abuse you (because it’s perfectly legal to be unethical and usurious) but we just have to explain that better for you. It’s the ole, ‘We’ll stab you in the back, but we’ll do it with a smile, okay? Feel better now?’

Every time a person with an audience mentions or explores the foreclosure-boom issue, the substantive truth must be spoken aloud rather than the cosmetic issues surrounding them. People lower on the American class-strata are continually damaged by silence of those more privileged than they, and by the refusal on the part of those above them to accept that class-culture informs one’s wisdom and it is from one’s culture that one makes “business” and legislative decisions that impose consequences only those below them will fully bear. What is to an upper a petty detail or a lower class rant, is not at all. Airing the dirty little secret each and every time foreclosure is brought up is critically important to those that bear the impact of this secret kept.

Homelessness caused by mistreatment of the powerful is pure enduring hell for the victim, Palestinian or American. Home-loss caused by the same and the return to renting from the same powerful is only slightly better. It all sows pain and hurt for the victim.

Reply

    • David Stein says:

September 28, 2010 at 11:57 am

Just Jack
It is the responsibility of the lender to present the accurate terms of the mortgage. It is the responsibility of the borrower to educate him/herself on the terms and determine if it fits his/her budget. There are more than enough tools out there to assist a first time home buyer. An educated buyer is a powerful buyer

Reply

      • Just Jack says:

October 1, 2010 at 10:40 am

Wonderful theory until you get to street level. Life just ain’t that simple. I know those of means really really need to believe in such a simplistic: party a does this and party b does that.

What about the responsibility of the lender to make a fair, loan in good faith and with terms that make it more likely the loan will be repaid (i.e. a non-usurious loan)? This doesn’t count? This isn’t necessary?

Why is okay that some brokers (most if we are to believe the numbers) only offered loans (subprimes) that made them or their brokerage more money through fees than the loans with terms that actually worked for the borrower (that typically brought in far less fees than the subprimes could)?

And educated borrower facing nothing but usurious loans should just walk away, right? Trouble is when the entire landscape of having a roof over your head is such that you can’t have shelter unless you deal with the devil, and only on the devils terms, it is abusive to then turn around and blame the educated borrower who didn’t walk away because there was no other choice.

People have to have shelter. Too bad if rich people think only some should.

It’s time to stop talking in oversimplistic party a party b nonsense and start telling the truth. Period.

Reply

  1. David Stein says:

October 1, 2010 at 10:54 am

“And educated borrower facing nothing but usurious loans should just walk away, right? Trouble is when the entire landscape of having a roof over your head is such that you can’t have shelter unless you deal with the devil, and only on the devils terms, it is abusive to then turn around and blame the educated borrower who didn’t walk away because there was no other choice.

People have to have shelter. Too bad if rich people think only some should.”

Then rent until you are able to buy. A mortgage is a huge responsibilty and shoud be viewed by all borrowers and lenders as such.. The trouble is that both sides share in the irrepsonsible behavior. When I took out my very first mortgage I was offered twice the amont I could afford on a social worker’s salary. I used a simple tool, a mortgage calculator to figure out what I could afford qwhile taking into account condo fees, utilites and taxes.