People, Places, Perspectives.

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We’d like to thank Rev Jeremy Tear for holding his talk “People, Places, Perspectives” on Wednesday in Caversham.

Rev Tear is the new Community Priest in Caversham and he recently visited West Bank and Jerusalem as part of an Amos Trust tour. The talk included a slideshow of maps and photos from his trip followed by a lively discussion where both sides were discussed. The event was well attended by parishioners from a number of local churches, Follow the Women and members of Reading PSC.

It’s always interesting to hear the firsthand experience of visitors to Israel/Palestine, you always hear something new. A few standout points from Jeremy’s talk:

  • Checkpoints – The checkpoint that he went through looked like a “ferry terminal” where some 5,000 people pass through each morning. Members of his group saw  Palestinians from the West Bank starting to queue at 01:00hrs, and though the checkpoint was meant to open at 05:00hrs, it often did not.  It took him over an hour to make his way through the checkpoint and said that that was not the ‘rush hour’ when Palestinian men struggled to get through in time to get to work – thus the queuing at 01:00hrs. Jeremy likened the checkpoints to having Reading and Caversham bridge cut off and being forced to queue for hours to get into Reading.
  • Zoughbi Zoughbi – a Palestinian Christian who operates the Wi’am Centre (conflict resolution center) in Bethlehem.
  • Sterile Streets – Jeremy showed us photographs of “sterile streets” he saw. A “Sterile street” can be created by the Israeli military who can block off any street they choose using metal gates and barbed wire in order to stop people traveling through it. Obviously, if you live on that street you are suddenly unable to enter your own home through the front door and Jeremy showed us the picture of an aged Palestinian woman he met who could only get into her house by climbing a ladder in her neighbour’s back garden.

    We had trouble believing this, but here’s an article from February 2010 in which a Rabbi explains that on his visit to Hebron: “The Israeli military had designated the street we were walking a “sterile street,” a street on which only Jews can walk!  The Palestinians who lived on the street could not leave their homes through their front doors which were also bolted by the Israeli military.”

  • Shunned – Jeremy also informed us that he was guided on his tour by a Jewish lady who had refused to serve in the Israeli military as a conscientious objector. This action had specifically limited her job prospects – it is hard to get a good job in Israel if you have not served in the IDF – and had caused her many in her family and Jewish community to shun her.
  • Education – Israeli Jews have a separate education curriculum from non-Jewish Israeli citizens. So Jewish Israeli have one Biology lesson, and non-Jewish Israelis have a different lesson. Even the marking system is different, a Jewish Israeli receives 300 points for writing their name on an exam paper, whereas the non-Jewish Israeli receives on 200.

We hope to organise more events like this in future. If you know of venues or would just like to express you thank to Rev Tear, please make a comment below.

[Updated with corrections from Rev Tear]

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