israel and palestine religious conflict


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’s 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 – 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


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 – 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


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

10:00   MEETING WITH THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY – 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



15:45   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


13:30   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


“Like a mighty tortoise moves the church of God!” So the hymn goes (or at least a popular parody of the old hymn).

The ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ movement (BDS) seems to be gaining real global traction.

Meanwhile the Anglican Church in Canada has resolved to “educate themselves more deeply” about the Israel/Palestine crisis!

Against the backdrop of history the actions of the European church almost always seem incredibly insipid! Our sisters and brother in South Africa and in Latin America have often been at the forefront of social change, as were our African-American brethren in the US less than a generation ago. But when was the last time a European synod took a courageous stand for justice and peace?

I guess I should be thankful that this very moderate resolution put before the Canadian Anglican synod was actually passed. Certainly if one judges by the comments on The Anglican Journal website there are no shortage of church members who continue to equate opposition to state-sponsored violence in Israel with Antisemitism.

Perhaps that is what keeps us all so timid? Indeed the church does have a dreadful history of Antisemitism. Even so, God help us if our guilt about past sins intimidates us to the point where we remain silent in the face of institutionalised racism and abuse.

Father Dave

Badge of the Anglican Church of Canada

Badge of the Anglican Church of Canada


Anglicans pass hotly debated Palestine – Israel resolution

By Leigh Anne Williams

After a long and passionate debate, the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada meeting in Ottawa has passed a resolution on the issue of peace and justice in Palestine and Israel.

The resolution reiterates the established positions of the church, which “recognize the legitimate aspirations, rights and needs of both Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace with dignity within sovereign and secure borders; condemns the use of all kinds of violence, especially against civilians; calls for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territories (West Bank and Gaza); and calls upon Israel, as an occupying power, to recognize the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids the transfer and settlement of its citizen in occupied territories. ”

However, it also calls on Canadian Anglicans to take some new steps, including educating themselves more deeply.

The resolution commits the church to act with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and other ecumenical partners to:

  • educate the church about the impact of illegal settlements on the lives of both Palestinians and Israelis; about imported products identified as produced in or related to the illegal settlements and misleadingly labelled as produced in Israel; about the complexities of economic advocacy measures
  • explore and challenge theologies and beliefs, such as Christian Zionism, that support the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories
  • explore and challenge theories and beliefs that deny the right of Israel to exist
  • and strengthen relationships with Canadian Jews and Muslims, to resolutely oppose anti-Semitism, anti-Arab sentiments and Islamophobia.

Debate ranged among members, from some who said the resolution went too far and demonstrated left-wing or anti-Israel bias, to those who said it did not go far enough in addressing the oppression of Palestinians suffering under an apartheid system.

There was also a concern that this resolution followed in the footsteps of a United Church of Canada resolution that called for a boycott of goods produced in the occupied territories that are labelled as Israeli products.  Bishop Michael Ingham of the diocese of New Westminster responded, saying this resolution “calls for nothing approaching that. It calls us to learn more about these products.”

The motion passed with the support of 73 per cent of the almost 300 members.

Another resolution was also passed that invites Anglicans to observe Jerusalem Sunday on the seventh Sunday after Easter. The day will be used to give special attention to the work of the Anglican church in the Holy Land and to take up a special offering as a gift to the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem.


This report just in! What is the Israeli government up to? This is outright provocation?

If the IDF is barring access to Al-Aqsa Mosque from Palestinian worshipers, the order must have come directly from the top!  Al-Aqsa (literally ‘the farthest Mosque’) is the third holiest site in Islam and is located in the old city of Jerusalem. By barring Muslims from accessing a sacred site, the Israeli government must know that the Palestinians will not stand for this!

Is Netanyahu trying to bring on the third Intifada and have it well underway by the time US President Obama makes his visit? Is this all designed to undermine any attempt by the US to build closer ties with the Palestinian government in Ramallah? 

God knows what the Israeli Prime Minister is up to, but certainly he is playing with fire!

Father Dave

Al Aqsa Mosque

Al Aqsa Mosque


Israel denies Palestinians access to Al-Aqsa

Israeli police on Monday denied Palestinian worshippers access to Al-Aqsa Mosque for prayer, eye witnesses told The Anadolu Agency.

Israeli police also prevented a number of Palestinian students from entering the mosque compound where they learn how to recite the Quran, Muslims’ holy book.

Israeli officials have yet to make a statement over the incident.


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?

Father Dave

Al Aqsa Mosque

Al Aqsa Mosque


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:…




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. 

Peace, Roy+


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… 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.