Wednesday, July 2, 2008

July 2, 2008 - Return

This morning I awoke to the NPR news announcement of the bulldozer attack on an Egged bus and other vehicles in Jerusalem this morning. Shock. How can this be happening when there is still a glimmer of hope for a ceasefire in Gaza? I don't know.

Jerusalem is a divided city - East and West - divided along the "green line," the dividing line between Israel and its neighbors, established in 1949 when the state of Israel was created. The line continues to be a dividing line, even after Israel took the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 war. East Jerusalem is primarily Palestinian; West Jerusalem is Israeli. Last week we visited the offices of Sabeel in East Jerusalem, where there was construction down the middle of the street - a new light rail being built through this East Jerusalem neighborhood. Improving the transportation system in this traffic-clogged city - you might say, great improvement for all residents. However, there will be no stations/stops in East Jerusalem. This portion of the system is being built to transport residents of Maale Addumin, an Isreali settlement still being built in the West Bank - a middle class neighborhood with parks and playgrounds, good schools - and low prices for homes, subsidized by the Israeli government. The light rail will carry these residents through the Arab areas of East Jerusalem to West Jerusalem. So, although the rails run down the middle of their street, the residents of East Jerusalem will not be able to ride it.

The bulldozer operator who killed three people and wounded 40 or more today was a construction worker on the light rail. I don't have any idea what motivated him to do such an awful thing - to kill people riding on a bus or mothers and children in their cars. There is no justification for his murderous act. But the path of the light rail is a small part of the reality of the world he lived in and there seems to be little justification for what goes on in his world either. It is reported that he had a criminal record, but I wonder what his criminal acts were. Abdul-Iatif's brother-in-law is in prison - a criminal according to Israeli justice - and he does not even know what he is accused of.

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