israel palestine religion
This recently-published video is a compilation of images of Bethlehem – the ‘little town’ that was the birthplace of Jesus.
Today as then, Bethlehem is a city under occupation. Jesus was only born there because the occupying power (Rome) ordered Mary and Joseph to travel there in order to complete a census. The current occupying power (Israel) is not so intent on increasing the population of Bethlehem but seems more interested in sealing it off from the rest of the world!
If you can’t view the video, click here
It’s hard not to feel a little cynical when you read this report. As an Anglican myself I can testify to the fact that our church has a sad history of making insipid statements on critical issues and this pronouncement from the Bishop of Bath appears to be sadly consistent with that history.
The Bishop’s statement seems to imply that all that stands in the way of peace is a little more goodwill between Israelis and Palestinians – a naive view that overlooks completely the way in which successive Israeli and US governments have sabotaged every potential peace plan for almost a generation!
It would be nice if goodwill were sufficient to establish a long-term peace between Israel and Palestine. Unfortunately it also requires a willingness on the part of the politicians involved to make genuine concessions – something that the Netanyahu government has shown no interest in doing.
Israel and Palestine must seek peace – bishop
The Bishop of Bath & Wells has spoken of his hope for long-term peace in the Holy Land following a recent trip to the region.
Addressing the House of Lords, Bishop Peter Price said civil society was “key to unlocking peace” between Israel and Palestine.
“Peace is the prize that all must seek for the welfare of generations of children growing up against the backdrop of uncertainty and fear,” he said.
Bishop Price made the visit as part of a delegation led by Christian Aid that also included the Bishop of Worcester.
He said the recent ceasefire between Israel and Gaza offered “hope for some measure of peace” and that US President Barack Obama’s forthcoming visit could open up non-violent solutions.
“What is hopeful is an increasing sense among the young that this situation cannot last forever,” he said.
During his visit, Bishop Price met Palestinian children taking part in a post-conflict trauma group.
He was moved by their dreams to become doctors, lawyers and teachers when they grow up.
“What kind of humanity leaves behind a child – any child – unable to hold onto its future?” he said.
“I am not seeking to make a partisan point here but a humanitarian one.
“Unless we can see in the eyes of the other the same human identity that is in ourselves, we risk only demonising the other.”
An evening of prayer and meditation is being held at Lady Chapel at Wells Cathedral next Tuesday, during which the bishop will talk about his visit.
The cathedral will host a Christian Aid photography exhibition until 3 March displaying work by young people in Gaza involved in campaigning against child labour.
Al-Aqsa Mosque (‘the Farthest Mosque’) is the third holiest site in Islam and is located in the Old City of Jerusalem. Having Jewish settlers, backed by the Israeli Defense Forces, violating this holy sanctuary is an act of brazen aggression that was surely calculated to raise the ire of Palestinian Muslims and the entire Muslim world!
What is Israel playing at? Are they trying to start another open conflagration? How would the State of Israel react if Palestinian Muslims stormed the ‘Wailing Wall’ and tried to defile it?
I expect that we will hear cries of outrage reverberating around the Muslim world. I fear that all we will hear from ‘the West’ is a deafening silence. This is surely the perfect opportunity for the US President to make a strong statement that shows he is genuinely concerned for the people of Palestine and for Muslim religious sensitivities, but what would it take to make this happen?
Illegal Settlers Storm Al-Aqsa Sanctuary, Attacks Escalate
A group of illegal Israeli settlers trespassed into Al-Aqsa Sanctuary again on Sunday, flanked by Israeli soldiers. The extremist settlers stormed the sanctified area in small groups, some practicing Talmudic rituals in the courtyard of the Al-Aqsa Sanctuary.
This latest incident reflects the escalation of attacks which violate Palestinian legal rights over the holy Sanctuary. Since the beginning of the year, there has been an alarming rise in the number of occasions Israeli forces, settlers and politicians have stormed the Al-Aqsa Sanctuary.
Following the public call by main stream Israeli Politician like Moshe Feiglin and Jeremy Gimpel, for the destruction of al-Aqsa Sanctuary, Israeli trespassers have become bolder and more audacious. A recent parade by over a hundred female Israeli soldiers at the Sanctuary was an unspoken threat to Palestinians. In continuing acts of aggression, scores of settlers accompanied by over a hundred soldiers have entered the Al-Aqsa Sanctuary. The Israeli state appears to be aiding and abetting extreme elements from Israeli society in violating the Palestinian rights over the land.
Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the Islamic movement from the pre-1948 Palestine, warned that Israel is trying to isolate Al-Aqsa Sanctuary from the Palestinians. Other steps have included demolishing the facades of a number of historical buildings in the Buraq Square adjoining the Aqsa Sanctuary. The Palestinians are calling for solidarity from the international community in defending the holy sanctuary.
Friends of Al-Aqsa is deeply concerned about these reports and this latest incident is a reminder of the clear and present danger the Al-Aqsa sanctuary faces. Being mindful of this aggression is the first step to preventing further trespasses and graver dangers posed to Al-Aqsa sanctuary by Israelis intent on its destruction. Now is the time for action – by lobbying your local MP and encouraging him/her to raise the issue of attacks on the Al-Aqsa sanctuary in Parliament.
read the rest of this article here: www.foa.org…
The following statement has come from the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem – a branch of the Catholic Church
Holy Land Coordination: Final Communiqué 2013
Since the Bishops of the Holy Land Co-ordination gathered in January 2012, the people in this region have lived through dark and dramatic events: conflict in Gaza and southern Israel; civil war in Syria, which has resulted in huge numbers of refugees pouring into other countries and putting an enormous strain on their resources; and increasing polarisation within Israel and Palestine. These developments have caused profound anxiety for all in this region, for the Israelis, Palestinians, Jews, Muslims, and particularly for the dwindling Christian population. This year we met Christian communities in Gaza, Bethlehem, Beit Jala, Madaba and Zarqa. In the Cremisan Valley we heard about legal struggles to protect local people’s lands and religious institutions from the encroachment of the Security Barrier (“the wall”). We promise to continue urging our respective governments to act to prevent this injustice. We heard moving testimony from religious women involved in the care of migrant workers, trafficked persons and prisoners.
Our faith was enriched by the strength and fortitude of the people we met: those with whom we shared in a vibrant celebration of Mass in Zarqa in Jordan; those who care for the vulnerable, like the refugees from Syria and Iraq fleeing terror and violence; those struggling in the face of oppression and insecurity across the countries that make up the Holy Land. We are inspired to promote a just peace and call upon Christian communities in our home countries and people of goodwill everywhere to support the work undertaken in this region to build a better future. Good examples are two agencies we visited: Catholic Relief Services in Gaza and the Caritas refugee programme in Jordan.
We are also called to recognise and tell others how faith in God brings light into the lives of people in the Holy Land. One of the ways in which this happens is the Church’s commitment to education, a tangible investment in the future. Nowhere is this more evident than in the University of Bethlehem, where we were struck by the stories from students, and the American University of Madaba in Jordan. In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI called upon staff and students in the region to be builders of a just and peaceful society composed of peoples of various religious and ethnic backgrounds.
With the local Bishops, we encourage practical support for the vulnerable, the formation of young people and every effort for the promotion of peace. We encourage Christians to come on pilgrimage to the Holy Land where they will experience the same warm hospitality we received. We shall work hard to persuade our respective governments to recognise the root causes of suffering in this land and to step
up their efforts for a just peace. We echo the call Pope Benedict made recently in his speech to the Holy See’s diplomatic corps: “Following Palestine’s recognition as a non-member observer state of the United Nations, I again express the hope that, with the support of the international community, Israelis and Palestinians will commit themselves to peaceful co-existence within the framework of two sovereign
states, where respect for justice and the legitimate aspirations of the two peoples will be preserved and guaranteed. Jerusalem, become what your name signifies! A city of peace, not one of division”. In the words of one of the Psalms, which we prayed together each day: “for the peace of Jerusalem pray” (Psalm 122, v.6).
Signatories to the Final communiqué:
Archbishop Richard Smith – Edmonton, Canada
Archbishop Joan-Enric Vives – Urgell and Andorra, Spain
Bishop Gerald Kicanas – Tucson, USA
Bishop Stephan Ackermann – Trier, Germany
Bishop Michel Dubost – Evry, France
Bishop William Kenney – ComECE Representative
Bishop Peter Bürcher – Reykjavik,Nordic Bishops’ Conference
Father Roy writes:
Thanks to Cotton and Donna and the others on PIN’s team for all the good work they do within the Episcopal Church in the USA. The PIN reaches out to Episcopalians in the pews and recognizes that there’s potential for kinetic energy in TEC’s august House of Bishops.
Episcopalians/Anglicans are growing robust internationally, too. Bishop Riah (who’s on the mailing list) is enroute to Damascus with an International Delegation on a Peace Mission to Syria. The Mission will be led by Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire, a Peace Activist from Ireland. The Peace Delegation will include our own Fr. Dave and Denning from Australia and the Rev’d Dr. Stephen Sizer from the UK. Stephen and Sami Joseph know each other.
Please read on. These are critical times we live in. There are ways we can help.
Diocese of North Carolina passes resolution urging Executive Council action on Palestine/Israel church policy
Palestine Israel Network Press Release
Winston-Salem, North Carolina – A week after long-time Episcopalian advocates for justice in Palestine released a letter urging the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council to better pursue equality in the Middle East, the Diocese of North Carolina passed a resolution advocating the same policies at its annual convention.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day letter – signed by church leaders like Edmond and Patti Browning, Bonnie Anderson, Desmond Tutu and eight others – can be read and supported at epfnational.org… Since the letter’s release more than 300 Episcopalians from 54 dioceses have supported the Episcopal Voices of Conscience Prophetic Challenge to the Executive Council.
“As hopes for a peace with justice for the peoples of Palestine and Israel increasingly hang by a thread, it is critical that the Episcopal Church acts on its extensive and long-standing policies. These include not only interfaith dialogue and education, but the actions raised in the letter and our diocesan resolution,” said Donna Hicks, a member of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship’s (EPF) Palestine Israel Network (PIN) who was a delegate to the January 25-26 North Carolina diocesan convention.
The diocesan resolution – filed in December 2012 – calls on the Executive Council to accomplish two things directed by past General Convention resolutions by June 2013 – call on Congress to investigate whether U.S. funding to Israel is being used to deny basic rights of Palestinians living under occupation and determine what investments the Church holds that support the infrastructure of the Israeli Occupation. The full text of the North Carolina diocesan convention resolution also is on the EPF PIN website above.