What exactly was going on outside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher on Easter Sunday? I’m not sure. Even so, I know some of the signatories to this declaration, and I know that they are not brash or inflammatory people. Further, this list seems comprehensive! It seems that all the Christian leaders of Jerusalem are united over this!
It would appear that the Israeli government is trying to make life in the ‘Holy Land’ as uncomfortable as possible for Christians. This makes sense in terms of the goal of maintaining Israel as a Jewish state. The problem is that such actions potentially do enormous damage to the country’s traditional religious support base – American Evangelical Christians!
A Statement from the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches inJerusalem, concerning the Israeli police measures on Holy Saturday- May 2013
We, the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, watched withsorrowful hearts the horrific scenes of the brutal treatment of our clergy,people, and pilgrims in the Old City of Jerusalem during Holy Saturday lastweek. A day of joy and celebration was turned to great sorrow and pain for someof our faithful because they were ill-treated by some Israeli policemen whowere present around the gates of the Old City and passages that lead to theHoly Sepulcher.
We understand the necessity and the importance of thepresence of security forces to ensure order and stability, and for organizingthe celebration of the Holy Fire at the Church of the Resurrection. Yet, it isnot acceptable that under pretext of security and order, our clergy and peopleare indiscriminately and brutally beaten, and prevented from entering theirchurches, monasteries and convents.
We urge the Israeli authorities especially the Ministry ofInterior and the police department in Jerusalem, to seriously consider ourcomplaints, to hold responsibility and to condemn all acts of violence againstour faithful and the clergy who were ill-treated by the police. We deplore thatevery year, the police measures are becoming tougher, and we expect that theseaccidents will not be repeated and the police should be more sensitive andrespectful if they seek to protect and serve.
We also denounce all those who are blaming the churches and holdingthem responsible of the Israeli measures during Holy Week celebrations. On thecontrary, the Heads of churches in Jerusalem condemn all of these measures andviolations of Christians’ rights to worship in their churches and Holy Sites.Therefore, we condemn all measures of closing the Old City and urge the Israeliauthorities to allow full access to the Holy sites during Holy Week of bothChurch Calendars.
The Heads of Churches of Jerusalem
- +Patriarch Theophilos III, GreekOrthodox Patriarchate
- +Patriarch Fouad Twal, LatinPatriarchate
- +Patriarch Norhan Manougian,Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarchate
- +Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, ofm,Custos of the Holy Land
- +Archbishop Anba Abraham, CopticOrthodox Patriarchate, Jerusalem
- +Archbishop Swerios Malki Murad,Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate
- +Aba Fissiha Tsion, Locum Tenensof the Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchate
- +Archbishop Joseph-Jules Zerey,Greek-Melkite-Catholic Patriarchate
- +Archbishop Moussa El-Hage,Maronite Patriarchal Exarchate
- +Bishop Suheil Dawani, EpiscopalChurch of Jerusalem and the Middle East
- +Bishop Munib Younan, EvangelicalLutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land
- +Bishop Pierre Melki, SyrianCatholic Patriarchal Exarchate
- +Msgr. Joseph Antoine Kelekian,Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate
We visited the refugee camp in Baalbek, near the Lebanese/Syrian border in the first week of May, 2013. The camp has been housing around 4,000 Palestinian refugees, mainly from the Galilee area, for more than a generation. In the last two years though they’ve had to cope with an influx of 7,400 Syrian refugees!
The camp manager received our delegation warmly when we arrived, mid-afternoon without an appointment. He spoke to us briefly in the dim light of his office (there was no electricity). We asked him how an already crowded refugee camp could possibly absorb an influx of new refugees that is twice its original size! His answer was simple. “Every family adopts two new families … in some cases three!”
The Palestinians of Baalbek are simply an inspiration, though it’s hard to know how long these people can continue in this impossible situation. One small contribution I think we could make is to run some boxing camps for the young people during their summer holidays. I think Denning would be the ideal person to manage it! Does anyone else want to volunteer?
The first video is Luke Waters’ coverage of the camp, screened for SBS TV. Luke was a valued member of our team until his employer said that he couldn’t join us on our trip into Syria (or so I was told)!
(if you can’t view this video, click here)
The second video is Denning clowning around. I don’t know the prelude to this scene but when I arrived he’d been teaching his charges to be ‘Aussies‘ for some time!
(if you can’t view this video, click here)
These are the sorts of incidents that are generally not considered newsworthy, yet behind each statistic are grieving families and children who are growing up in an environment of hatred towards the occupying power – a hatred that is totally understandable.
How can there ever be peace between these peoples while daily injustices like this go on?!
EU flays Israel destroying Palestine structures
28 people, including 18 children, were displaced and 120 others affected
Occupied Jerusalem: European Union missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah expressed serious concerns on Friday about the demolition last week of 22 structures in eight places across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
The destruction displaced 28 people, including 18 children, and affected 120 other people including 57 children, a statement from EU missions in Ramallah and Jerusalem said of the actions on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Some of these structures were funded by EU member states, including France, it said.
“These and other recent demolitions appear to put an end to a period in which a welcome reduction in demolitions had been noted,” the EU said.
“Since the year 2008 more than 2,400 Palestinian houses and structures have been demolished in Area C of West Bank and [occupied] east Jerusalem, displacing more than 4,400 people.”
Places designated as Area C are under full Israeli control.
The statement said that, on May 14, 2012 they had called on Israel to meet its obligations regarding the living conditions of the Palestinian population in Area C, including halting forced transfers of people and demolition of Palestinian housing and infrastructure.
French foreign ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot condemned the destruction of a Palestinian Bedouin camp by the Israeli army on Tuesda in the north of the Jordan Valley.
He said the camp had been financed by France and was “clearly identifiable.”
“France has made representations to the Israeli authorities to stop the destruction of homes, the displacement and the destruction… in Area C, which are contrary to international humanitarian law,” Lalliot said.
The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported on Friday the demolition of two farm sheds and a Palestinian restaurant in Area C on April 19 and the temporary displacement of some 60 people, including 36 children, in the Jordan Valley due to Israeli military training.
Richard Falk has never been one to pull punches. He simply states what everybody involved in the so-called ‘peace process’ has always suspected – that the ‘two-state solution’ has been dead in the water for many years.
It’s hard to know whether John Kerry really believes his efforts will make a difference. Certainly Mahmoud Abbas must no better. Meanwhile, as they play out their charade, the Palestinian people continue to pay the price.
Falk: Two-state solution presently obsolete
BEIRUT: Richard Falk, the Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestine for the U.N. Human Rights Council, Thursday called the two-state solution “presently obsolete.”
Falk, who has drawn controversy in the past for his criticism of Israeli policies, was delivering the annual Constantine Zurayk Lecture at the American University of Beirut, speaking on the topic “Rethinking the Future of Palestine: Beyond the Two State Consensus.”
Falk did not completely rule out the two-state solution, saying, “Perhaps in the future it will again become a plausible political project.”
But for now Falk said U.S. President Barack Obama’s model of a two-state solution “continues the global mirage of a negotiation … is essentially a bridge to nowhere,” adding that “no image of an end-game solution at this time is possible as a viable political project.”
Since 2005, he has been the chair of the Board at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and taught at Princeton University for 40 years.
In the wake of the June 1967 war, Falk said, the situation can be characterized as one in which the Palestinians have lost, and the Israelis have gained.
“And they [the Israelis] have been able to do that behind the mirage that a two-state solution was in the cards.”
Using South Africa as an example, he highlighted the need to satisfy a number of political preconditions before a solution becomes a realistic possibility.
Saying that “conditions for a just peace do not presently exist,” Falk also noted, “I realize it’s discouraging to emphasize the prematurity of proposing a solution after 65 years.”