Commentary: The Bethlehem Checkpoint in Context

Wednesday, March 07, 2012 |  Ryan Jones

Attending Christ at the Checkpoint this week afforded my first opportunity to pass through the checkpoint that now separates Bethlehem from Jerusalem.

It is indeed an imposing, intimidating and even depressing structure. Passing through is a great inconvenience compared to how easy it was to move from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, and vice versa, just 10 years ago. I can even see why many Palestinians are "insulted" by the great grey wall. And I can sympathize with those whose only crime is being born Palestinian, but nevertheless have to endure such hardships.

But you know what else is depressing, inconvenient and insulting? Being blown up while riding the bus.

The Bethlehem portion of the security barrier, which is by far the largest and most intimidating part, is a big point of contention at Christ at the Checkpoint. It is presented as an embodiment of Israel's cruel oppression, which is implemented with the help of Christian Zionist support. But they are only presenting one side.

What has not been mentioned once so far at the conference by those decrying the presence of the security wall is that it was built for a reason. They seem to want everyone to believe that Israel arbitrarily erected this barrier as a means of sadistically oppressing the Palestinians.

The reality is that before the security barrier was built, especially the part separating Bethlehem from Jerusalem, I was regularly fearful. I never knew if my wife's next ride on the bus home from work would be her last, or if the coffee shop or pizza parlor we had decided to sit at would be the one chosen for that week's big suicide bombing (yes, they were happening weekly at one point).

Now that I have four young children at home, I can imagine my fear would be much greater if those attacks were happening with the same frequency.

So, while we can and should be sympathetic, understanding and compassionate, I can imagine that like me, the majority of Israelis are not willing to apologize for something that means they can once again ride buses and drink coffee without fear of being blown to pieces, even if it is an inconvenience for and insult to the Palestinians.

It's time to place the blame where it really belongs.

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