This article about my trip to Israel and Palestine came out in the Asheville Citizen-Times this past weekend. There are a few things I would change in it, but I’m really grateful to the reporter, Leslie Boyd, for her time and for giving attention to the issue.
As for the things I would tweak, I’ll spell them out, because they matter.
• The photo was taken by Madeleine Rowe, who was on the trip with me, and I think it’s one of the best pictures to come out of the trip. She deserves credit for that, but that’s not the only issue with the text below the photo, which reads “Palestinian children climb on an old fence. The barriers protecting Israel are making life difficult for ordinary Palestinians, David LaMotte says.”
I did say that the wall is making life difficult for Palestinians, but I wouldn’t really characterize it as protecting Israel. One of the main misconceptions we have about the wall is that it divides Israel from the West Bank, like the wall between East and West Germany.
The 1967 border between Israel and Palestine is referred to as the Green Line, and is recognized by most people as the natural border between the two, though ongoing settlement in the West Bank is making any possibility of a contiguous Palestine increasingly unlikely.
The wall is three times as long as the Green Line, and only a small portion of it runs along the Green Line. Most of the wall runs deep into land that most of the world recognizes as Palestinian, and the vast majority of it separates Palestinians from Palestinians, and from their own fields, schools, families and neighbors. It sometimes nearly completely encircles Palestinian villages.
It is true that suicide attacks have decreased since the wall went up, but I don’t believe that the humiliation and degradation of Palestinians is good for Israel in the long run. It breeds desperation and rage, which contribute to terrorism.
• The article begins “David LaMotte has had a successful career as a musician, but his faith has led him in an entirely different direction.” We could debate the success of my music career, of course. More importantly, though, I’d like to think that the new path isn’t an entirely new direction, and though my faith is a big part of why I’m choosing this path, it’s only one part among many.
• “Olive tree groves believed to be thousands of years old are being ripped out to make room for the wall that separates the Israeli and Palestinian people.” Again, for the most part, it doesn’t, though it’s true about the thousands of olive trees that have been destroyed.
OK, there you go. My rebuttal to myself.
Salaam and shalom…