Broken and Weary Peace Poles

This Sunday we are dedicating a new Peace Pole at St. Paul’s. Our existing one was installed shortly after the invasion of Iraq. It has endured some long, Hard Canadian winters. Over the years, it has reminded many of us to pray and work for peace in Canada, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Congo, Guatemala, South Africa, Palestine and Israel, the U.S. and every other place on earth.

A friend, Gordon Williams told me he downloaded pictures of Peace Poles from many locations around the world. I asked if he had one from Bethlehem. He tried to describe the photo over the phone. But – I couldn’t figure out where it was. I asked him to email the photo.

As soon as I saw it, I was quite sure I knew the exact location. I recognized the gas stations!

Image

It appears to be where the “Hebron Road” forms a “Y”, one side headed toward Beit Sahour and the other past the Intercontinental Hotel and on toward Hebron.

The Peace Pole is tattered and bent. It struck me as a good metaphor for the prospect for a true peace for the people of Palestine and Israel.

Today, that Peace Pole is gone. Then again so are the buildings on the left hand side. They have been replaced by the Wall. The gas stations on the right are quite run down and seem to be hanging on by a thread. The tourists who once flocked to Bethlehem have decreased by 2/3rds.

I wonder how the Wise Men who saw the star over Bethlehem would have reacted to the Wall?

So, this Sunday I will again remember Bethlehem. I will once again speak of peace and hope. I will do so even in the knowledge that peace with justice is only a faint hope for my friends and acquaintances in Palestine and Israel.  I will do so even though my heart will be heavy because of how the story of the Palestinians has been twisted and bent by those who benefit from the occupation.

On a lighter note, this week Netanyahu referred to Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. That sort of sounds like the pot calling the kettle black doesn’t it Bibi? If anyone benefits from fear mongering it is Netanyahu.

Still, we make our prayer, “May peace prevail on the earth.”

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About Steve Berube

I am a team minister at St. Paul's United Church in Riverview, NB, Canada. I served as a human rights observer in Bethlehem while on sabbatical in the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) of the World Council of Churches.
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1 Response to Broken and Weary Peace Poles

  1. Carol Steel says:

    Powerful and poignant piece of writing. Dealing with the reality of the peace process is disheartening but we must still hope, still pray and do the work we need to do to encourage change.

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