The Clock is Ticking

IN JULY I TRAVELED TO THE Middle East at the invitation of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). The Palestinian refugee camps in the Israeli-occupied territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are administered by UNRWA, so I had the opportunity to spend time in the communities where the intifada -- the Palestinian uprising -- has been most active.

Accompanying me was Charles Kimball, the Middle East program director for the National Council of Churches. Together we traveled extensively throughout Israel and the newly proclaimed state of Palestine, meeting with Palestinians and Israelis, both community leaders and ordinary people -- all searching for some resolution to the anguishing conflict which has claimed so many lives. -- Jim Wallis

THE ROAD FROM BEN GURION AIRPORT to Jerusalem began to tell the story: Lively conversation among the six passengers in our taxi suddenly stopped as we approached the place where, only five days before, a young Palestinian had seized the steering wheel of an Israeli bus and deliberately plunged it off the road into a deep ravine. Fifteen people died; many others were seriously injured.

Our taxi, like all other vehicles on the highway, slowed as we passed. Numerous brightly colored wreaths marked the spot of the crash. Ten cars had stopped on the shoulder; curious, disbelieving, and angry people peered over the low guard rail, pointing to the crash site below.

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