Flightless birds New England Synod Companion Trip November 23, 2013

009The caged bird sings with fearful trill of the things unknown but longed for still and his tune is heard on the distant hill for the caged bird sings of freedom –Maya AngelouThe Environmental Education Center in Beit Jala http://www.eecp.org/ wowed our group with its demonstration on how the environment is challenged. Invasive species have been planted and nudged out indigenous flora. For example, Eucalyptus and Cyprus do not let anything grow under or around them, and their “thirst” for water make them a poor substitute for olive, almond, and oak trees.012We marveled at the bird banding program. Robins and finches and others are caught and released with a band that this bird comes and goes from Palestine. The birds are ambassadors, linking far flung places like Poland to the Center in Beit Jala, and now researchers from one country to the next are working cooperatively.034A quick lunch at Déjà Vu nearby had us around a long table where the fare offered included shawarma, chicken, or hamburger! http://dejavu.ps/ Guess what I had. Oh, and we did not go bowling there. Maybe next time.Deja Vu bowlingSeeing the trees made me wonder about human species that take over without concern for others that are already there. Plants at the Environment Education Center teach me about the Occupation. Birds released into the air made me think about the walls that cannot contain yet become a kind of cage for a people who cannot explore their self-identity, who do not have freedom to leave the West Bank, who must fly in a way by faith.In the afternoon, we went to Hebron, where 500 Israeli settlers are outnumbered by perhaps 60,000 Palestinians, yet who come and go as they please, and who are watched over by a cadre of Israeli soldiers in an unusually high ratio (5:1? 10:1?). The Palestinians are restricted to a living and working area that essentially closes down their way of life. They are not allowed to drive. They cannot walk through the places taken by the settlers. There is palpable tension, glaring poverty, once a hub of the West Bank reduced to shambles for Palestinians. All this in a place Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike revere as the final resting place for Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob. I thought about caged birds and Maya Angelou’s poem Hebron is a compressed example of a way of life that seems to edge out one group to the margins. Sigh.050 Tags: , , , ,