Monday, January 11, 2010

Violence in Jerusalem

In her January 10 presentation in Englewood, "Voices of Youth: Confronting Conflict and Building Community," Denver resident Kate Simmons stimulated the thinking of her audience with a report on her recent interfaith trip to Israel. It is second nature for a human to discriminate against others who are different; we feel safe with those who share similar beliefs with us. Since the beginning of time man has waged war over our “soul” purpose in this universe, today we know this “soul” purpose as religion. Wars such as the Crusades were fought over a stretch of land considered holy by three of the world’s biggest religions: Christianity; Judaism; and Islam. For centuries followers of these three religions have shed blood over a city known as Jerusalem that all believe to be their historical holy land. Today there are modern crusades being waged over Jerusalem between the Muslims of Palestine and the Jews of Israel. Palestinian Muslims are fighting to gain back their holy land and Jews are fighting to keep their holy land. About 65 years ago after the Holocaust, Jews went to the UN to ask for a country where they could live and practice their religion in peace. With the support of the UN, the country of Israel was established in 1948 and included Jerusalem. There was a problem though. Palestinian Muslims lived there and considered it their home and holy land. A huge war erupted between the Muslims (Palestinians and Muslims in neighboring states) and the Jews. The Jews won and claimed more surrounding territory as a buffer but they have been fighting and defending this territory ever since. In recent times the Jews have built a separation wall to protect themselves from the Palestinians. The wall between the two puts the West Bank on one side and Jerusalem on the other. On January 3, 2009, Palestinian fighters sent rockets into Jerusalem killing many people. This was just one out of many battles fought in the last ten years. The people on both sides are living in constant fear. Kids walking home from school are always looking for places to hide for when the bomb sirens go off. This is a very sad situation and a problem that gets worse with time. But, with every unique problem a unique answer arises. One can’t help but wonder how to make a difference, how to help. The best way to help is to let people know what’s going on in Jerusalem and that the Jews and the Muslims both feel the same when they lose a loved one to this senseless violence and that their biggest fear is not being heard.

At a children’s playground this caterpillar serves as a bomb shelter for kids on the play ground when the rocket sirens go off

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