When the violence between Israel and Hamas was renewed at the end of last year, I decided that I needed to understand. I know that there are thousands of years of history that have led them to this point. Failed treaties; ignored agreements; violent acts committed by terrorists rather than governments, but bringing the organized retaliation of a government. Anyway, I decided that I needed to understand, so I bought Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid by Jimmy Carter, in hopes that the president of my birth could help me out. And I feel that after reading this, I do understand, at least a little bit, why it is that this is so, so difficult and so long-lived a conflict. But really for me the most difficult part of it was the building of the wall between Israel and the West Bank, separating people from family members, and business enterprise, food and clothing, supplies, gasoline, electricity.
And then I read an article in the New Yorker about Mumbai, in the wake of Slumdog Millionaire. The children who live in the slums of Mumbai, like those portrayed in the movie, live off of what they can find to sell, what they can find that's edible. They die from preventable diseases, and have a rate of malnourishment equal to that of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. All of this with burgeoning business and tourist enterprises within reach, but blocked by walls of concrete topped with barbed wire and broken glass.
This brings me to our border fence. We read each week about new violence in Mexico, how the cities are not safe and it's spilling over into the US. We continue to build the fence to keep out the poverty we have forged that we must now keep on the other side of the wall.
We go to great troubles to separate ourselves from the disastrous world our greed and selfishness and prejudice has wrought. We create refugee camps and resettlement plans rather than find ways to forge a lasting peace. We create vast networks of homeless shelters and food pantries rather than creating affordable housing and assuring that every person is fed as they should be. Walls are no substitute for justice.