EDITED! Do Fences make good neighbors? Use your Words!

Last Thursday, I participated in a group trip to Judea and Sumaria, more specifically, to the Shomron and the village of El Kana. A group of my colleagues and I headed out through the beautiful landscape of Israel glancing at the biblical architecture yet to be discovered, the blooming flowers, and the beautifully decorated “sound barriers” soon to be known as “the fence.” I do NOT want to be political here, rather, I want to reflect on some ideas that popped into my head while i watched the fence and flowers flow by through our bus.
First and foremost, I felt safe, I was in Israel, as an American. That is, at the “border crossing” into the territories, an Israeli might need tos how their passport as they are crossing the border, but i did not need to. What I was struck with was the beauty of the land, and the term used to describe those who have chosen to live there, settlers. They have settled the land, and live peacefully in many places with their Arab neighbors; something that perhaps could be a model for the whole of Israel. One of the main ways the Jewish people obtained ownership of the land was to settle it.
The more I looked at the Fence, the more I found myself wondering how building a fence and separating ourselves from one another would promote peace and security. Furthermore, how can we both exist and live together while not even acknowledging the existence of the other side of the fence. I kept thinking about my backyard growing up, which was at the head of a wide open space that connected all the other backyards of the houses on the two streets perpendicular to ours. We all shared swing sets and backyards, bats and balls. We played together some days, and some days we kept to oursleves. But how different would it have been if we had put up a big fence separating ourselves. Would my sister and I have made friends with the other kids or just played together, alone? Would I have been able to learn about my neighbors holidays and share mine with them? BUT THE FENCE WORKS, TERRORISM IS DOWN… A GOOD IDEA, but at what cost??
The final moment of the trip which brought me some serious thought was standing at the end of Israel, overlooking the Palestinian Authority davening mincha. There we stood together, praying, and as I said the last words of my private Amidah, asking for a great peace over all of Israel. And I found myself stuck with the words, paralyzed by what that means, how is it possible. I know that it is possible, I know there will be peace, one day, may it be speedily in our days. But, after seeing the walls, seeing the peaceful coexistence in contrast to the few hostile neighboring villages, I am not sure we have found the solution yet. Do fences make good neighbors? What about that saying parents tell their children… Use your words? But what words do we say?
may we see the day when war and bloodshed cease, when humankind will not again know war. May peace come speedily in our days, may we love our neighbors as ourselves, share the swing-set, learn about each other, live and grow together in the beauty of the gift of God’s creation.
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