The following statement is impressive, in my view. What is more impressive though is the very fact that this team of church leaders from around the world took the time to travel to Gaza and stay there for a five-day period!
The presence of these men in Gaza at such a dark time in Palestine’s history speaks far more loudly than the most eloquent statement! Let’s pray that this is the start of a trend that may lead to a visit of the Pope to Gaza.
Here below is the statement released by Co-ordination of Bishops’ Conferences in support of the Holy Land, who have just completed a five day visit to the region.
January 15th 2014
“As bishops from Europe, South Africa and North America we came to the Holy Land to pray with and support the Christian community and the cause of peace. In Gaza we witnessed the deep poverty of the people, and the courageous presence of the small and vulnerable Christian communities there.
Gaza is a man-made disaster, a shocking scandal, an injustice that cries out to the human community for a resolution. We call upon political leaders to improve the humanitarian situation of the people in Gaza, assuring access to the basic necessities for a dignified human life, the possibilities for economic development, and freedom of movement.
In the seemingly hopeless situation of Gaza, we met people of hope. We were encouraged by our visit to tiny Christian communities, which day after day, through many institutions, reach out with compassion to the poorest of the poor, both Muslim and Christian. We continue to pray for and support the priests, religious and laypeople working in Gaza. They exercise a ministry of presence, care for disabled children and the elderly, and teach the young.
Their testimony of faith, hope and love gave us hope. This is precisely the hope needed at this moment to bring peace, a peace that can only be built on justice and equity for both peoples. Palestinians and Israelis desperately need this peace. For example, in the Cremisan valley the route of the security barrier threatens the agricultural land held for generations by 58 Christian families. The current peace talks come at a critical time. Now is the time to ensure that the aspirations for justice of both sides are fulfilled.
We urge public officials to become leaders of hope, not people of obstruction. We call upon them to listen to the words of Pope Francis, who recently said to the Diplomatic Corps: “The resumption of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians is a positive sign, and I express my hope that both parties will resolve, with the support of the international community, to take courageous decisions aimed at finding a just and lasting solution to a conflict which urgently needs to end” (13 January, 2014).
As we leave the Holy Land, the bishops and people of the local Church remain in our hearts. They are not alone. Together with them we are people of hope. We pray that the visit of Pope Francis to the Holy Land will reinforce hope in the region. We believe a lasting peace is possible.
Archbishop Stephen Brislin, South Africa
Bishop Pierre Burcher, Scandinavia
Bishop William Crean, Ireland
Bishop Michel Dubost, France
Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher, Canada
Archbishop Patrick Kelly, England and Wales
Bishop William Kenney, England and Wales
Bishop Declan Lang, England and Wales
Bishop Denis Nulty, Ireland
Bishop Richard Pates, United States of America
Bishop Thomas Renz, Germany
Bishop Janusz Stepnowski, Poland
Archbishop Joan Enric Vives, Spain”
This week, veteran 60 Minutes producer Harry Radliffe threw Overtime a real plum: the story of Taybeh.
He and correspondent Bob Simon stumbled on the tiny village of Taybeh while they were in the West Bank, reporting on the Holy Land’s vanishing population of Christians.
What makes Taybeh the last all-Christian village in the Holy Land? The village has no mosque and is home to three distinct Christian communities: Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox and Melkite Greek Catholics.
Taybeh’s roots are deep, and for Christians, important: the biblical name of the village is Ephraim. According to the Bible, Jesus Christ came to Taybeh from Jerusalem before his crucifixion. John 11:54 states: "Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples."
The name of the village was changed from Ephraim to Taybeh around 1187, by the Islamic leader Saladin.
Today, Taybeh’s population is dwindling, down to around 1500. The majority of Christians there are Greek Orthodox.
But have faith. The town’s resident Roman Catholic priest, Father Raed Abu Sahlia, isn’t going anywhere. As he told Bob Simon with a smile:
"I will assure you that even if all the Christians of the Holy Land will leave, and I will remain alone, I will get married, we will start another new generation."
Click to view video: www.cbsnews.com……
The following article is by Rick Steves. He does travel books and a KPBS travel program Saturday nights at 5:00 p.m. He also did a beautiful program on Iran. Hopefully his information will get some major media coverage.
Reflections on Israel and Palestine
Posted: 04/ 5/2012 1:50 pm
I’ve been duped.
Do you know the frustration you feel when you believed in something strongly and then you realize that the information that made you believe was from a source with an agenda to deceive?
I just watched a powerful and courageous documentary called Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land. It certainly has its own agenda and doesn’t present balanced coverage. Still, it showed me how my understanding of the struggles in the Middle East has been skewed by most of our mainstream media. I saw how coverage of the Israeli/Palestinian problem is brilliantly controlled and shaped. I pride myself in understanding how the media works… and I find I’ve been bamboozled.Invest 75 minutes in watching this, because most of the time we only hear one viewpoint when it comes to the interminable struggle in the Holy Land. While this documentary would never be shown on commercial TV in the USA, it can be viewed online (Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land). In my view, many Palestinians live under inhumane conditions, and U.S. taxpayers help to make it happen. Please, watch this and then share your impressions.
Criticism of Israel’s policies is not automatically anti-Semitic (see J-Street for an example of a pro-Israel, pro-peace group). In fact, the irony is that for Israel’s hard-liners, their clever PR strategy could be their own worst enemy. While Israel certainly deserves security on its land, the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory (in Gaza and the West Bank) degrades Israel and drives Palestinians to desperation. The question of whether Israel is conducting a brutal military occupation or a reasonable defense against terrorism gets no real airtime. If we care about the long-term security of Israel, we have a responsibility to understand what our government is funding and supporting.I believe that watching this documentary is a painful first step to finding a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. If you are a friend of Israel, you must watch Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land.
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This is encouraging. Simultaneous to the AIPAC gathering, leading clergy from the Holy Land – Christian, Muslim and Jew – have been meeting with leading US government officials, advocating peace. Once again it is made clear that the Israel/Palestine conflict has nothing to do with any incompatibility between the Abrahamic religions.
Posted: 27 Feb 2012 04:25 PM PST
Peace in the Holy Land is a necessity – and possible. So says a delegation from the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land visiting Washington DC this week to speak to administration officials, congressional leaders and interested lay people. The group, made up of top Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders in the Holy Land, have been working together for years now to bring a just peace to their beloved land.
They spoke Tuesday at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, stressing the role of education in peace-making. I have asked for a transcript of the panel to be put up at www.us…, but don’t know if that is possible.
A written statement from their delegation states that their goals for this visit include advocating for equal, free access to all holy sites and for respecting all three narratives of Jerusalem, Jewish, Christian and Muslim. The council speaks out regularly against incitement and has commissioned a study of Palestinian and Israeli textbooks to monitor and hopefully lead to change of material deemed to incite hatred and racism. The council is also working to launch a project to prepare emerging religious leaders to enable them to also work cooperatively toward a just peace.
They say that religious leaders can and should be a great help to address entrenched issues that touch on both religion and politics, and are ready and eager to be of service.