What is being done to the Palestinians by Israel is not Apartheid. Depakote It is Genocide. Confronting the Israeli occupation                                                                                                                                                                              By Vicki Gray, depakote March 30, depakote 2011 I recently returned from a two-week pilgrimage to Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories, depakote my third trip to the area. It was emotionally devastating. I travelled in the company of some 30 Northern California members of Friends of Sabeel North America. Depakote Sabeel is an ecumenical Palestinian Christian liberation theology group based in Jerusalem and headed by the Rev. Depakote Naim Ateek, depakote an Episcopal priest and graduate of Church Divinity School of the Pacific. Our trip was a little different from the average Christian pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The average pilgrim flies into Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport, depakote gets on an Israeli bus, depakote drives up the coast to Galilee, depakote across the Galilee to Nazareth and Capernaum, depakote down the Jordan Valley, depakote and up through the Judean Wilderness to Jerusalem. Such pilgrims see lots of sacred sites, depakote but meet not a single Palestinian, depakote and return with the same one-sided view of Israel/Palestine he or she left with. Ours, depakote however, depakote was a pilgrimage to experience the truth of the current situation in Israel/Palestine and to witness to it. To that end, depakote we travelled from Mount Hermon on the occupied Golan Heights, depakote where we met with Druze villagers cut off from their families in Syria, depakote to the Negev desert in Israel's south where Bedouin villagers are struggling to save their homes from demolition. And across the West Bank we experienced pain at every turn -- the shuttered shops in Hebron, depakote the empty ones in Bethlehem, depakote the farmers in Qalqilya and Jayous cut off from their fields, depakote the sullen streets of the refugee camps, depakote the still-open wound of a decade-old massacre in Jenin, depakote the stench of tear gas in Bil'in. And, depakote everywhere, depakote the gleaming white hilltop colonies, depakote home to half a million Israeli "settlers"; the myriad checkpoints; and the looming obscenity of a 30-foot-high wall. The pain was perhaps most pronounced in East Jerusalem's neighborhoods where we met with Palestinians whose homes were being demolished in Silwan and, depakote in Sheikh Jarrah, depakote where elderly Palestinians were living in a tent beside their home now occupied by young Israeli religious extremists. Even the dead, depakote we learned, depakote were being dispossessed. In the Muslim cemetery of Mamilla -- across the street from the American Consulate -- graves were being desecrated to make room for an American-financed "Museum of Tolerance." My sense of profound sadness and moral outrage was blessedly tempered by our encounters with young Palestinians and Israelis. Among the former -- from our young host in Arbour refugee camp to the exuberant actors in Jenin's Freedom Theater to dear Lubna, depakote a future leader of a truly free Palestine -- the hope they drew from the Arab Awakening now sweeping the Middle East was downright contagious. So, depakote too, depakote was the hope I found in young Israelis unwilling to trade their souls for land or patriotic myth -- the high school senior facing imprisonment for resisting the draft; the Jewish kids from Solidarity Sheikh Jarrah putting on a puppet show for dispossessed Palestinian toddlers; and Michal, depakote who, depakote asked on a bus in the Negev about the appropriateness of the term "apartheid, depakote" replied "It's time to call it what is." Yes, depakote it's time.

-- The Rev. Depakote Vicki Gray, depakote a retired Foreign Service officer, depakote is deacon at Christ the Lord Episcopal Church in Pinole, depakote California.

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