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Rev. Stephen Sizer is a great guy.

Certainly he is a great thinker – a reflective evangelical theologian with a special expertise when it comes to refuting the errors of Christian Zionism – but he is also just a genuinely nice human being! ūüôā

Our little group of peace pilgrims left Damascus early on April 15. We drove to Beirut and then flew to London via Frankfurt, arriving at around midnight with no idea of exactly where we were staying! Who took it upon himself to borrow the church mini-bus and scoot out to Heathrow in the middle of the night and then go scouring London for the location of the Catholic Worker’s house of hospitality? Stephen Sizer!

enjoying dinner with Rev. Stepen Sizer in London

enjoying dinner with Stephen Sizer in London

Sometimes actions speak far louder than words. In this case though we’ll let Stephen’s words do the talking. He was interviewed by George Galloway on ‘Sputnik’ on the same day John Shipton and I were (see our interview on¬†Syria¬†here). It was a great day. It was our first morning in London, which meant Stephen had had even less sleep than we had (having spent an hour in the car getting home after dropping us)! Even so, it was a memorable day and this was a great interview, particularly for any¬†who might still¬†think that unquestioning support for the State of Israel is somehow obligatory for all Christians.

Father Dave

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Read more of Stephen’s insights on Christian Zionism on his website –¬†www.stephensizer.com…

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Ashkelon-prison-panorama

Morde’s friends and foes gather outside Ashkelon prison – April 21, 2004

Ten years ago, on¬†April 21, 2004, several hundred of us from around the world waited with great anticipation outside the gates of Israel‚Äôs Ashkelon Prison, holding up signs saying, “Thank you, Mordechai Vanunu: Peace Hero, Nuclear Whistle-blower”.¬†After many years of campaigning for his freedom, the day had finally arrived:¬† Mordechai Vanunu would walk out of the prison where he had spent each day of his 18 year sentence (12 of those years in solitary confinement) for blowing the whistle on Israel‚Äôs¬†then secret¬†nuclear arsenal.¬† We were there to welcome him to freedom.

Our excitement had been somewhat dimmed a couple of days earlier, when Israel announced a list of oppressive and unjust restrictions on the soon-to-be-released whistle-blower. These restrictions continue to this day, having been renewed each April:  Mordechai Vanunu remains under restrictions which require him to report and gain approval for any change in residence, to avoid diplomatic missions, to not speak to foreign nationals and which which prevent him from leaving Israel, a thing Mordechai has wished to do ever since his release from prison.

Since his release he has been repeatedly harassed and taken in by police for questioning.  He has served a further three months in prison for talking to foreigners, which he continues to do in spite of the restrictions.

In¬†December 2013, an appeal to Israel‚Äôs High Court of Justice¬†against¬†this indefinite punishment for ‚Äúcrimes‚ÄĚ for which he has served his full sentence¬†proceeded much as previous appeals had. The government, in secret testimony, persuaded the court that ‚Äúthe evidentiary material suggests that there is still additional privileged information that [could be jeopardized] by the petitioner.‚ÄĚ

However Vanunu has repeatedly insisted that he has no more secrets to tell, including in his first public statement to the throng of international reporters gathered to cover the moment that he emerged from prison on April 21, 2004.  He shared all that he knew with UK Sunday Times journalists back in 1986 (information that is now more than 28 years old) Рgiving the world its first photographic proof of Israel’s clandestine production of nuclear weapons at the remote Dimona factory where he had worked as a technician until 1985.

He strongly believed that in a democratic country, people have the right to know what their government is doing, and, after examining his conscience, felt it was his responsibility to share the information he had.  On the eve of publication, Vanunu was lured from London to Rome by a Mossad agent, where he was kidnapped, drugged and bound and put on a freighter to Israel. A secret court convicted him of espionage and treason.

We believe that Mordechai Vanunu is a hero for his courageous act of whistleblowing, not a traitor or a spy.  And we think it’s likely that Israel would view a potential Iranian nuclear whistle-blower in the same light.  In any case, it is time for Israel to stop this endless persecution of Vanunu.   He is currently living in East Jerusalem, but very much wishes to leave Israel and start a new life.

As we continue to work for a nuclear-free future, we invite people around the world to join us as we call on Israel to do the right thing,¬†morally and legally,¬†and finally lift Vanunu’s restrictions without further delay, ten years after the original court-imposed sentence for his ‚Äúcrime” has expired.¬†¬†Mordechai Vanunu¬†must at last be given¬†his freedom.

Signed:

(Israel) Yehuda Atai, Ronnie Barkan, Rayna Moss, Gideon Spiro, Meir Vanunu

(UK) Yasmin Alam, Pat Arrowsmith, Geoffrey Austin, Ben Birnberg, Margaret and Jacob Ecclestone,  Paul Eisen, Jay Ginn, June Hautot,  Ben Inman, Bruce Kent, Bruce Mackenzie, Carmel Martin, Jenny Morgan,  Adeline O’Keeffe, David Polden, Ernest Rodker, Sabby Sagall, David Smethurst, Ben Soffa, James Thackera, Barry White

(US) Barbara Beesley, Felice Cohen-Joppa, Nick and Mary Eoloff, Ken Hannaford-Ricardi,  Art Laffin, Daniel McGowen, Mary H. Miller, Ronald H. Miller, Kim Redigan, Grace Ritter,  Scott Schaeffer-Duffy, Jeanie Shaterian

(Ireland) Kevin Cassidy, Barbara Fabish, Mairead Maguire

(Norway) Fredrik Heffermehl

(Japan) Shinji and Ryoko Noma

(Australia) Phillip Mudge, Rev. David Smith

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00000006 Trump PhillDave eb-browning me-&-Jane meeting-morde morde-&-me amongst-friends morde-&-meir peter&hillarie
Peace activists line up outside Ashkelon prison
blowing the trumpet of peace
The Aussie Vanunu support base - Phil & Dave
Vanunu supporters Father Dave & Bishop Ed Browning
Dave with ABC's Foreign Correspondent, Jane Hutcheon
Reunited with Morde after 18 years!
with friends in St George's Cathedral
Morde and brother Meir
with journalists Peter and Hillarie Hounam

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The former Archbishop of Capetown is now 82 years old and he’s been doing his best for some time now to slip into a quiet retirement. The problem is that the man has the heart of a prophet and he simply can’t contain himself and remain silent in the face of injustice and oppression!

The testimony of the prophet Jeremiah comes to mind:

“But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.” (Jeremiah 20:9)

Tutu and Jeremiah, it seems to me, were cut from the same prophetic cloth. While the Palestinian Occupation continues in all its brutality, and indeed becomes even more brutal as more and more land is gobbled up by ‘settlers’, how can a man who has given his life to fighting oppression not speak out!

As articulate as ever, Tutu makes a point that I hadn’t considered before – that the comparison that is sometimes made between supporters of the “boycott, divestment and sanctions” campaign and the Nazi’s of World War II is not only horribly insulting to the upholders of BDS but also trivialises the horrors of the Holocaust!

Father Dave

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

Statement by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on 2 April 2014

I am writing today to express grave concern about a wave of legislative measures in the United States aimed at punishing and intimidating those who speak their conscience and challenge the human rights violations endured by the Palestinian people. In legislatures in Maryland, New York, Illinois, Florida, and even the United States Congress, bills have been proposed that would either bar funding to academic associations or seek to malign those who have taken a stand against the Israeli Occupation of Palestine.

These legislative efforts are in response to a growing international initiative, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, of which I have long been a supporter. The BDS movement emanates from a call for justice put out by the Palestinian people themselves. It is a Palestinian-led, international non-violent movement that seeks to force theIsraeli government to comply with international law in respect to its treatment of the Palestinian people.

I have supported this movement because it exerts pressure without violence on the State of Israel to create lasting peace for the citizens of Israel and Palestine, peace which most citizens crave. I have witnessed the systematic violence against and humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces. Their humiliation and pain is all too familiar to us South Africans.

In South Africa, we could not have achieved our democracy without the help of people around the world, who through the use of non-violent means, such as boycotts and divestment, encouraged their governments and other corporate actors to reverse decades-long support for the Apartheid regime. My conscience compels me to stand with the Palestinians as they seek to use the same tactics of non-violence to further their efforts to end the oppression associated with the Israeli Occupation.

The legislations being proposed in the United States would have made participation in a movement like the one that ended Apartheid in South Africa extremely difficult.

I am also deeply troubled by the rhetoric associated with the promulgation of these bills which I understand, in the instance of Maryland, included testimony comparing the boycott to the actions of the Nazis in Germany. The Nazi Holocaust which resulted in the extermination of millions of Jews is a crime of monstrous proportions. To imply that it is in any way comparable to a nonviolent initiative diminishes the horrific nature of that genocidal and tragic era in our world history.

Whether used in South Africa, the US South, or India, boycotts have resulted in a transformative change that not only brought freedom and justice to the victims but also peace and reconciliation for the oppressors. I strongly oppose any piece of legislation meant to punish or deter individuals from pursuing this transformative aspiration. And I remain forever hopeful that, like the nonviolent efforts that have preceded it, the BDS movement will ultimately become a catalyst for honest peace and reconciliation for all our brothers and sisters, both Palestinian and Israeli, in the Holy Land.

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Below is the draft itinerary of Pope Francis’ forthcoming visit to the Holy Land. I have a feeling that it’s going to come as a rude surprise to some of his hosts!

We only have to compare the Pope‚Äôs itinerary with that of the US President on his recent visit. Obama started in Jerusalem and paid obeisance to the political leadership in Israel before venturing further into the regions to which they are the US-backed gatekeepers. In contrast, Francis is following the path of the Lord Jesus Himself ‚Äď starting off in Bethlehem and concluding his stay in Jerusalem (though we trust he won’t follow the Lord too closely and get himself killed there)!

I have no idea whether Netanyahu will consider this a slap in the face or not. Either way, Francis’ agenda is clear: the people of Palestine come first! He will meet with them, celebrate mass with them, eat with Palestinian families and speak with their leaders, and only when his time in the West Bank is concluded will he head to Israel proper. And even when he gets to Jerusalem, Francis is meeting first with Patriarch Athenagoras and the Grand Mufti before the schedule allows for any time with Israeli politicians! Surely this speaks volumes!

The only shame is that Francis hasn’t scheduled in any time in Gaza. That would be truly spectacular. Perhaps it could still happen? I don’t put it beyond him!

Father Dave

Pope Francis

source:¬†al-bushra-updates.blogspot.com…

Pilgrimage of His Holiness Pope Francis in the Holy Land

Pilgrimage of His Holiness Pope Francis  in the Holy Land
on the occasion of the
50th anniversary of the meeting in Jerusalem
between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras
(May 24 ‚Äď 26, 2014)
Program as of March 27, 2014

Saturday, May 24, 2014

08:15   Departure from Rome Fiumicino Airport for Amman

13:00   Arrival at the Queen Alia International Airport in Amman

13:45   ARRIVAL CEREMONY in the al-Husseini Royal Palace in Amman
COURTESY VISIT TO THEIR MAJESTIES THE KING AND QUEEN OF JORDAN

14:20   MEETING WITH THE AUTHORITIES OF THE KINGDOM OF JORDAN. Discourse of the Holy Father

16:00   HOLY MASS at the International Stadium in Amman. Homily of the Holy Father

19:00   Visit to the Baptismal Site at Bethany beyond the Jordan

19:15   MEETING WITH REFUGEES AND DISABLED YOUNG PEOPLE in the Latin church at Bethany beyond the Jordan. Discourse of the Holy Father

Sunday, May 25, 2014

8:15     FAREWELL FROM JORDAN at the Queen Alia International Airport in Amman

8:30     Departure by helicopter from the Queen Alia Internal Airport in Amman for Bethlehem

9:20     Arrival at the helicopter port of Bethlehem

9:30     ARRIVAL CEREMONY at the Presidential Palace in Bethlehem
COURTESY VISIT TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE STATE OF PALESTINE

10:00¬†¬† MEETING WITH THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY ‚Äď Discourse of the Holy Father

11:00   HOLY MASS in Manger Square in Bethlehem. Homily of the Holy Father
REGINA COELI PRAYER. Allocution of the Holy Father

13:30   Lunch with families from Palestine in the Franciscan Convent of Casa Nova in Bethlehem

15:00   PRIVATE VISIT TO THE GROTTO OF THE NATIVITY IN BETHLEHEM

15:20   GREETING OF CHILDREN FROM THE REFUGEE CAMPS OF DEHEISHEH, AIDA AND BEIT JIBRIN at the Phoenix Center of the Deheisheh Refugee Camp

15:45   FAREWELL FROM THE STATE OF PALESTINE at the helicopter port of Bethlehem

16:00   Departure by helicopter from the helicopter port of Bethlehem for Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv

16:30   ARRIVAL CEREMONY at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. Discourse of the Holy Father

17:15   Transfer by helicopter to Jerusalem

17:45   Arrival at the helicopter port of Jerusalem on Mount Scopus

18:15   Private meeting with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople at the Apostolic Delegation in Jerusalem. Signing of a joint declaration.

19.00   ECUMENICAL MEETING on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the meeting in Jerusalem between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher. Discourse of the Holy Father

20:15   Dinner with the Patriarchs and Bishops and the Papal suite at the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem

Monday, May 26, 2014

8:15     VISIT TO THE GRAND MUFTI OF JERUSALEM in the building of the Great Council on the Esplanade of the Mosques. Discourse of the Holy Father

9:10     VISIT TO THE WESTERN WALL in Jerusalem

9:45     Laying a wreath at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem

10.00   VISIT TO YAD VASHEM in Jerusalem. Discourse of the Holy Father

10:45   COURTESY VISIT TO THE TWO CHIEF RABBIS at Heichal Shlomo Center in Jerusalem, next to the Jerusalem Great Synagogue. Discourse of the Holy Father

11:45   COURTESY VISIT TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL at the Presidential Residence in Jerusalem. Discourse of the Holy Father

13:00   PRIVATE AUDIENCE WITH THE PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL at Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem

13:30   Lunch, the Papal suite at Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem

15:30   Private visit to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople at the building next to the Orthodox church of Viri Galileai on the Mount of Olives

16:00   MEETING WITH PRIESTS, MEN AND WOMEN RELIGIOUS AND SEMINARIANS in the Church of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives. Discourse of the Holy Father

17:20   HOLY MASS WITH THE ORDINARIES OF THE HOLY LAND AND THE PAPAL SUITE in the room of the Cenacle in Jerusalem. Homily of the Holy Father

19:30   Transfer by helicopter from the helicopter port on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem to Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv

20:00   FAREWELL FROM THE STATE OF ISRAEL at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv

20:15   Departure from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv for Ciampino Airport in Rome

23:00   Arrival at Ciampino Airport in Rome

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Post-apartheid South Africa has played a special role in the Palestinian struggle. Nelson Mandela was a personal friend of Yasser Arafat – a man who he saw as being on a parallel struggle for justice and freedom for his people. And as the church helped lead the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa, so it comes as no surprise that South African church leaders have come in firmly behind the ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ (BDS) campaign against the Israeli government.

Defenders of Zionism ¬†are quick to ridicule any comparison between South African apartheid and the State of Israel’s policies that favour Jews over Arabs. As South African pastor, Rev. Dr. Moss Nthla, points out though, he is in a better position than most white people to judge whether the apartheid label is valid. He and other South African church leaders suggest, in fact, that the Israeli system of racial discrimination is actually worse than what they experienced under apartheid!

Father Dave

If you can’t view this video, click here.