On our second day in Jerusalem, one of our speakers said this. At the time, it sounded a bit trite to me–how can we hate something and be grateful for it at the same time?
We had just spent the afternoon with a guide from Ir Amin, a group that tracks the development of Jerusalem with an eye toward reconciliation and peace. The guide showed us the security fence that divides East and West Jerusalem and the neighborhoods around the city. The fence is not pretty–it is concrete with barbed wire on top and its effect is devastating–it has separated families from each other, villages from neighboring villages, and farmers from their land. It is one thing to read about it and another to see it–exactly why we were here with our students. I hate the fence.
With this afternoon’s news of the bus bombing in Jerusalem–the first since 2004–and the increased barrage of rockets coming from Gaza in the last few days into Israeli kibbutzes and cities, we are unfortunately reminded anew of the security reasons behind the fence. At the height of the second intifada, over 80 Israelis were killed a month in suicide bombs. The fence had stopped that. And, without it, our trip would never have happened. Thank god for the fence.
But the trip has made the contradictions even harder. My anguish over the bombing today, the rockets from Gaza, and the civilian deaths in Gaza from Israeli response is just too close to home at this point. I hate the fence. Thank God for the fence.