israel and palestine confict
The following speech was given by Father Dave at the Al Quds Day rally in the Sydney CBD – July 26th, 2014
In the name of God, merciful and compassionate (bismi-llahi r-ra.mani r-ra.im), and with respect to the traditional custodians of this land (the Gadigal people), let me thank you (my Muslim sisters and brothers) for the privilege of standing with you today in solidarity with the oppressed people of Palestine.
The tears of Jesus mingle with the blood of the innocent of Gaza. The brutality of this latest assault seems to surpass even the violence of the Israeli government’s previous attacks on this beleaguered civilian population. Whole families are killed, children die in their beds, mosques and schools and hospitals are targeted for destruction. Jesus weeps. How can we but weep with him?
When I was asked to speak at this gathering, more than a month ago, our primary concern was with the Australian government’s refusal to acknowledge the Israeli Occupation. Since that time the gates of hell have opened up again in Gaza, and now the terrible refusal of the Australian government to acknowledge the Palestinian Occupation has been eclipsed by their even more appalling silence in the face of the horrendous holocaust of human suffering our sisters and brothers in Gaza are enduring.
Jesus weeps for the people of Gaza and we weep with him, and yet we must do more than weep. We must move our government to act in support of our suffering brothers and sisters! How we accomplish that, I am not sure, but what I am sure about is that if we are going to be effective we must work on this together!
Sisters and brothers, in this great tragedy I also see a great opportunity – an opportunity that people of faith everywhere (and most especially Christians, Muslims and Jews) might be drawn together from across the globe to stand together in solidarity with the Palestinian people! Jesus weeps and there is no way that any person of faith can be blind to the injustice that is being visited upon Gaza. We weep, and as we weep my hope and prayer is that God will draw us together in love!
A Muslim brother of mine once said to me “do you know that before I was a Muslim I was a Christian”. I was surprised until he added “and before I was a Christian I was a Jew!” I don’t know if all of you all of my Muslim sisters and brothers here share this perspective – that before you were Muslims you were Christians – but if you do then we must also acknowledge that before we were Christians we were Jews!
We have all sprouted from the same seed, and that seed was planted in Palestine! Since that original seed was planted we have branched out in very distinct ways and we have grown apart and indeed there has indeed been a tragic history of violence between us, the vast bulk of which has been the responsibility of the Christian branch of that tree! Even so, would it not be wonderful if our love for our common birthplace and our love for the people of that land where our seed was first sown – would it not be wonderful if that love for Palestine could draw us back together?
We are of different faiths (and I do not intend to minimise any of those differences). Even so, while we are different in many ways, our love for Palestine is one! We may be divided by culture and race and creed, but we are united in our love for Palestine, we are united in our thirst for justice, and we are united in our commitment to ending the Occupation and the oppression of the Palestinian people!
Brothers and sisters, let us stand together for Palestine. The forces of injustice and oppression are strong. The propaganda ministry of the State of Israel functions like a well-oiled machine. Their narrative is well rehearsed, they are well financed and powerful and they speak with one voice! If we are going to stand against them we too must be united.
This is my prayer and my hope – that, enshallah, this tragedy might draw us together in solidarity with the people of Palestine, for if we stand together – Muslims, Christians and Jews – against the Palestinian Occupation and against the genocide being enacted in Gaza, I believe we will see change. Justice will come, and our tears of sorrow will be replaced by tears of joy as we celebrate a free, free Palestine. Enshallah!
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …”
Thus Dickens begins ‘A Tale of Two Cities’. The cities he had in mind were London and Paris, and yet his words form a fitting introduction to the story of Jerusalem and Ramallah in 2014.
It is the worst of times!
As I write, the IDF is tightening its military grip on the West Bank and enacting raids and arrests on a scale not seen since the Second Intifada! Meanwhile settlements continue to flourish, Gazans struggle to find fresh water, Australia abandons all pretence of concern, and the negotiating table is empty.
In the corridors of power – in Jerusalem, Ramallah, Washington and Canberra – it is the worst of times for our Palestinian sisters and brothers. But this is not the whole story! Tectonic shifts have been taking place at the grass-roots, and what’s more the church is at the very heart of the shift!
The accomplishment of Pope Francis in bringing Abbas and Peres together for prayer in Vatican City was nothing short of miraculous! Who would have thought that such a thing could happen?!
The tangible effects of the Pope’s initiative might not yet be obvious but what Francis has done is to help accelerate a paradigm shift in the way the world is dealing with the Palestinian Occupation. Israeli and Palestinian peace is no longer simply a political issue. It is also a spiritual issue and a human issue, and as such it is something for which we all need to take responsibility!
The quest for justice and peace in Palestinian is becoming a truly democratic struggle, as seen in the ever-growing ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign’ (BDS). The BDS again moves the struggle for justice beyond the realm of professional politicians to a place where every business, every household and every individual can play a role in defunding the Palestinian Occupation!
And so it should not surprise us to see these two forces converge – spiritual leadership and BDS – with the United Methodists of America last week divesting from companies fuelling the Palestinian Occupation and with the Presbyterian Church of the USA about to follow in their wake!
It is the worst of times for political settlements being established from the top down, and yet the death of the American-led ‘peace process’ has opened up the way for ordinary people, and for the church in particular, to take the cause of Palestinian peace into their own hands!
In Biblical Greek the word ‘kairos’ means ‘time’ but not in the sense of clock-time. It means an opportune time – a God-given moment that needs to be taken hold of and taken full advantage of. Now is such a kairos in the struggle for Palestinian justice. Now is the time to act, now is the time to pray, now is the time for us to organise our churches to act and pray and to shout out to the world that our Palestinian sisters and brothers have suffered long enough!
If we – the Church of Jesus Christ – take hold of this time and work hand-in-hand with other grass-roots groups of concerned people around the world, I do believe this could turn out to be the best of times for Palestine, and a decisive turning point in the global struggle for justice and peace.
‘Palestinians for Dignity’ have a point! President Obama’s two terms in office have thus far given the Palestinian people absolutely nothing to celebrate!
While the proposed trip to the West Bank might be interpreted as an indication that the American President takes the Palestinian people seriously, the US did indeed vote against statehood for Palestine at the UN last year and have repeatedly declared that they are the Occupier’s staunchest ally!
If Obama does enter Palestine accompanied by an Israeli security team he will not be coming as a friend but as a symbol of the Empire that powers the Occupation!
Palestinian activists: Obama non grata in Palestine
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
Group called “Palestinian For Dignity” plan demonstrations in protest of Obama’s planned visit to the West Bank.
Palestinian activists said over the weekend that they would hold demonstrations in protest against US President Barack Obama’s planned visit to the West Bank later this month.
A group called “Palestinian For Dignity” called for “huge demonstrations” against Obama and US policies “supportive of the occupation.”
The group said that Obama was “persona non grata in Palestine” because of US military, financial and diplomatic aid for Israel.
“We call upon our people to demonstrate against receiving he who considers himself Israel’s No. 1 ally,” the group said in a statement. “We also call for demonstrations against the idea of returning to the negotiations [with Israel.”
The group said that Obama’s planned visit to Ramallah “comes at a time when our prisoners are on hunger strike and weeks after the death of prisoner Arafat Jaradat in interrogation cells.”
The group said that it was naive to think that US policy toward Israel has changed during Obama’s term.
It also reminded Palestinians that the US had voted against the PA request for upgrading the Palestinians’ status to nonmember observer at the UN in November last year.
In a related development, Hamas and Islamic Jihad called on Palestinians to prevent Obama from visiting the Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem.
The two groups said they were opposed to Obama’s visits, especially if he is accompanied by Israeli security officials.99
United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, Professor Richard Falk, is again under the spotlight for apparent bias against Israel, which is seen as being incompatible with his role in the UN.
This time the issue is the comparison he made between Hamas militants and the French Resistance in World War II. His point seems to have been simply that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. This would seem innocuous enough, but comparing the enemies of Israel to those who fought the perpetrators of the Holocaust has evidently aroused some sensitivities!
Falk is also under attack for publishing a cartoon on his blog that has been widely condemned as anti-Semitic. You can see the cartoon here. It depicts a dog wearing a kippah and an American flag, urinating on a statue of Blind Justice and eating human bones and blood. Certainly the cartoon could be depicted as being in bad taste, but it seems to me that the dog is supposed to be the USA and not the state of Israel.
Falk, who is an American Jew, has been accused multiple times of being a self-hating Jew. I don’t know whether anyone has accused him yet of being a self-hating American?
UN Palestine expert Falk: Hamas like French resistance
The United Nation’s Palestine expert has compared Hamas terrorists to fighters with the French resistance during the Holocaust.
Richard Falk, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, made the comments in a piece posted on the Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine website.
In an article that included repeated condemnations of Israel, Mr Falk asked his audience to “imagine the situation being reversed as it was during the Nazi occupation of France or the Netherlands during World War two”.
“Resistance fighters were uniformly perceived in the liberal West as unconditional heroes, and no critical attention was given as to whether the tactics used unduly imperiled innocent civilian lives,” he said.
“Those who lost their lives in such a resistance were honoured as martyrs. “[Khaled] Meshaal and other Hamas leaders have made similar arguments on several occasions, in effect asking what are Palestinians supposed to do in the exercise of resistance given their circumstances, which have persisted for so long, given the failures of traditional diplomacy and the UN to secure their rights under international law.”
read the rest of this article here: www.thejc.com…