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White Roses

A picture of a compass lying on brown fabric.

A picture of a compass lying on brown fabric

When I came to Palestine, I brought with me a compass. And when I open it, covering up what would point me north to find my way is white rose petals.

The White Rose Society was a group of people in the center of Nazi Germany who maintained their humanity amid the inhumanity around them and resisted the Holocaust.

Yesterday a group of little Palestinian children took me to a playground. We played together, prayed together, and they gave me more white rose petals.

Last night I slept in a small Bedouin Palestinian community. 3 days ago they were given 24 hours by violent extremists from nearby illegal settlement outposts to leave their village or all be killed. As I write this, they are still alive and still in their homes, but I don’t know how much longer this will be the case.

In the tent I stayed in, to document and intervene, there were internationals and Israelis. The Israelis I was with have chosen to oppose another shoah, another nakba. I believe them to be some of the righteous among the nations in this generation, and I am grateful to be beside them. They, from below in the valley, rather than the settlers on the hilltops, are a light unto the nations, holding onto a culture of solidarity against the odds.

Last night Wadi Tiran, where I rested my head, was not wiped off the map, but there have already been whole communities that have disappeared completely because of similar threats. And the IDF fighter jets I heard overhead every hour, reminded me that even as I try to stop ethnic cleansing, I am failing. I paid my taxes. And those U.S.  tax dollars are murdering thousands of children just like the ones who gave me white rose petals.

As somebody who is inspired by all the Abrahamic faith traditions, I know that the survival, peace, freedom, and right to return of one people or faith does not have to mean the denial of the survival, peace, freedom, and right to return of another people or faith.

The Islamic mystic poet Jelaluddin Rumi says, “Wherever you go may you be the soul of that place.” One meaning of Al Aqsa, the Mosque in the heart of Jerusalem’s old city, is the soul. The soul of this place is in danger. And with it, the soul of humanity.

I hope I will see more white roses bloom.