Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Visiting Israel and Palestine

I spent last week in and around East Jerusalem and the Bethlehem area of the West Bank speaking to people about the current situation in the Palestinian Territories. I had hoped to go to Gaza but the permit did not materialise.

I have always been struck by the resilience of Palestinians I have met when they have spoken about life under occupation, however on this occasion I was aware just how tired many people have become following twenty years of negotiation that have resulted in things getting worse rather than better.

Hopes for a two state solution are strained, and the response to the Palestinian UNESCO application being approved, both by the US and Canada withdrawing aid and the Israeli withholding of Palestinian tax revenue, has caused huge frustration and distress.

As Israel continues to expand the building of settlements in East Jerusalem and in the West Bank, it is planning the forced relocation of twenty Bedouin and Herder communities into an urban setting, meaning the loss of their way of life as well as further displacement of what are already largely refugee communities.

Meanwhile the descriptions of life in Gaza are appalling, with the water supply polluted to the point of being poisonous.

As Christmas decorations start to go up across Scotland’s High Streets, life in Bethlehem is far from the glitter. Weariness and resignation are more in evidence than expectation.

For a good briefing on life in Gaza see the website of UN Office of the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs.


  1. Thanks for the marvelous posting! I certainly enjoyed reading it, you can be a great author.I will always bookmark your blog and may come back at some point. I want to encourage continue your great job, have a nice day! Please Visit my sites also :-Casino Slot Games for fun | free slot machine games for pc | free poker games no money | Safe Online Casino

  2. i visited the holyland last year,and enjoy seeing the places of the bible and ,i suppose walking in the footsteps of our lord, but was appalled in the conditions that the palestinian christians lives , behind a wall that the state of israel moves and reclaims land devastating the lives of the people whos land it is and cutting power supplies and water on a daily basis, WHY because they say that the terrorists live in bethlehem behind the wall, well i know what side of the wall i felt threatened and it was not in bethlehem, kindest regards david william mcfie

  3. Thanks for your post, Ian. The World Mission Council this year is helping people connect with Christians living in Bethlehem though our 'Send a Christmas card to Bethlehem' initiative. There are details on the Church of Scotland website here: http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/speak_out/make_a_difference_locally/campaigns/invest_in_peace

  4. Rev Galloway you along with other representatives of your church look for every opportunity to demonize Israel. Morsel by morsel you and your colleagues feed those that rely on, that look to you as teachers and leaders, at best half-truths but more commonly total distortions. There is another side to the story but way bother with it when it won't serve your purpose of delegitimizing Israel.
    There are fewer roadblocks now than at any time over the last twenty years. But why tell your reader that. You imply that new settlements are being built. This is not true. Any building that is going on is within settlements that already exist. Do your readers even know that in the hope of bringing peace closer Israel forcibly removed the Jewish settlers from Gaza and demolished their homes and communities? In return Israel received rockets on her southern cities and a governing body in Gaza sworn to destroy her.
    You throw in a comment about the Bedouin, of course here Israel is in the wrong. No doubt most of your readers have no idea what you are talking about. You might add a line or two to explain that you are referring to the Bedouin of the Negev in the south of Israel. People who are citizens of Israel. A complicated situation around claims to state land in which the government is trying to find the path of meeting the rights and needs of the Bedouin as well as those of the state. However you make it sound like Israel is forcibly herding people around like sheep.
    You go on to state that the description of life in Gaza is appalling. And whose fault is that?
    You offer no details other than that the water supply is polluted to the point of being poisonous. Reading your blog one can only assume that this too is Israel's fault. Maybe a better solution than implying that is Israel is to blame would be to suggest that the leadership of Gaza should try spending less on rockets against Israel and more on improving the infrastructure to serve their people.

  5. i thought it was burn the olive groves and demolish the houses to make way for the wall, i must have been seeing things, so the state could build new houses for the chosen few that can trace their linage back to israel,


Thank you for commenting. Your comment will be moderated according to my Netiquette statement. The comments posted by readers of the blog are not necessarily the opinion of, or endorsed by The Church of Scotland.