This scrapes the bottom of the barrel!

You’d have thought that the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) would have had their hands full already – maintaining the Occupation, making night-time raids, detaining people without trail, demolishing houses, etc., etc. But this just goes way to far! How can anybody attack a puppet show?!

In truth, it’s only a tiny incident when seen in the context of the greater Occupation, Even so, let’s not let this one pass without comment! It simply isn’t right to target a harmless children’s show!

Father Dave


Israel orders Palestinian puppet show closed

For the first time in twenty years, Israel’s public security ministry temporarily shut down the theater.

JERUSALEM — Children’s paintings of flowers and butterflies are up on this East Jerusalem theater’s walls, and the venue is colorfully garlanded.

Everything is in place for the opening of its annual puppet festival today — except the El-Hakawati theater has been ordered closed by Israeli authorities.

For the first time in twenty years, Israel’s public security ministry temporarily shut down the theater. Police spokesman Luba Samri told AFP the puppet festival’s activities “were being organized under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority.”

The venue’s director Mohammed Halayiqa has filed an appeal that will be heard at Israel’s Supreme Court on Thursday, arguing that an event cannot be cancelled because the PA funds it.

He says Norway, a longtime supporter of Palestinian cultural events, actually provided the resources for the puppet festival, through the offices of a local cultural fund.

“I am completely shocked,” Halayiqa told GlobalPost, after the ministry summoned him to receive the closure notice.

El-Hakawati is a central cultural venue in East Jerusalem, where the majority of the city’s Palestinian population lives.

Two months ago, it hosted the Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival, funded by French, Swiss, British, and Palestinian donors.

Israeli and Palestinian activists say they are planning a protest Thursday.

“It just breaks your heart,” Tzaphira Stern-Assal, an Israeli activist with the left wing Meretz party, said in front of the theater today. She is helping organizing the protests tomorrow.

Apparently the authorities decided “too many people gathering here would pose a risk to the state,” she sarcastically quipped.


Here’s a powerful reflection on Al Quds Day by Rev. Stephen Sizer (with highlights courtesy of Father Roy Hayes).

From my perspective, the media has done everything possible to destroy Al Quds Day this year. They have labelled it a day of hate and they slander those who take part in it, though all the persons I know who are involved have had no other concern but to remember the suffering of their oppressed sisters and brothers in Palestine. It’s a time-tested tactic – make a lot of noise and slander the protestors, and so divert attention away from the real issues that Al Quds Day is supposed to highlight.

Thank you, brother Steve, for restoring some balance to the debate by bringing us to the heart of the issue.




What are your hopes for Al Quds? What is your vision for Jerusalem? What do you pray for Yerushaláyim? Is it for a return to 1967 and Jordanian rule? Or the British Mandate of 1917? The Ottoman rule of 1517? The Mamluks of 1250 or the Ayyubid dynasty of Saladin from 1187? Or do you long for the return of the Islamic Caliphate of 638? Or even earlier, the rule of the Herod, Alexander, Artaxerxes or Cyrus? Or is it to see a return to the kingdom of David or Solomon?

During its long 4,000 year history, Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times. Jesus was not the first and will not the last to weep over Jerusalem. The Bible tells us,

“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side… They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” (Luke 19:41-44)

Jesus prediction came true in 70AD when the Romans demolished the city and built their pagan Aelia Capitolina, to occupy, suppress and control its citizens. Today we weep too that Al Quds, the Old City and East Jerusalem remain, after 45 long years, under Israeli military occupation. An occupation in breach of international law, Geneva Conventions and UN Resolutions. That is why no country recognizes Israeli sovereignty over the city.

But what kind of Al Quds do you envision? What kind of Jerusalem are you marching for today? Is it for an open, inclusive city of faith? Or for one as exclusive as the Zionists are trying to create? Let me be frank. Is there a place in your Jerusalem for Jews, Muslims, Christians and those of no faith? Is there a place for Sunnis as well as Shias, for Salafists as well as Sufis? Is there a place for all those born there? All those who have found refuge there? All those driven out by fear or persecution?

What kind of Al Quds do you want? Perhaps we should instead ask ‘What kind of Al Quds does God want? Long before Jesus or Mohammed were born, God inspired David to envision a city whose residents would be identified by their faith not race.

“Glorious things are said of you, city of God: “I will record Rahab and Babylon among those who acknowledge me – Philistia too, and Tyre along with Cush – and will say, ‘This one was born in Zion.’” Indeed, of Zion it will be said, “This one and that one were born in her, and the Most High himself will establish her.” The Lord will write in the register of the peoples: “This one was born in Zion.” (Ps. 87)

The Prophet Isaiah also envisions Jerusalem as a city where God teaches the nations, where swords are turned into plough shares and spears into pruning hooks.

In the last days
the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established
as the highest of the mountains;
it will be exalted above the hills,
and all nations will stream to it.

3Many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

He will judge between the nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will
they train for war anymore
. (Isaiah 2:2-4)

That is why, quoting the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, Jesus insisted Jerusalem must be a place of prayer for all nations.

On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.” (Mark 11:15-17)

Therefore if we wish to do God’s will, we will work and pray for Al Quds to become an inclusive city that reflects God’s vision, a city of justice, peace & reconciliation. Insha’Allāh.


Stephen Sizer
Christ Church Vicarage
Virginia Water,
GU25 4LD………


Father Roy writes:

Peers, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has a tangible focal point:Jerusalem.  The word “Jerusalem” means “City of Peace”.  An international debate over the future status of Jerusalem is now in progress, on-line as well as off-line.  To hear from the Palestinian side, read MIFTAH’s latest mailing pasted below.  To learn the extent to which Israeli officials are incensed that the debate has grown international, watch this short video:  BBC Refuses To Name Jerusalem As Israel’s Capital (04:47).

The Rev. Naim Ateek, a Palestinian Christian, states the obvious in the language of diplomacy:  “Jerusalem remains the key to peace.  Ultimately it is what happens to Jerusalem that will determine whether a viable peace is achieved or not.  Unless the International Community can build peace based on a just foundation, it is difficult to imagine a permanent resolution of the conflict.”  Karen Armstrong explains why this is true in an article published in Time Magazine:  Why Jerusalem Was Central To Muhammad.  For additional reading:… and….

President Obama literally caused global warming when he told an AIPAC conference that Jerusalem must remain “undivided” and “Israel’s eternal capital.  America’s President missed a peacemaking opportunity that day which would have been consistent with even his own foreign policy.  All the President needed to say was that Jerusalem must remain “undivided and SHARED”.  Peers, let’s think about the matter.  Let’s think more and more deeply.  It’s not too late for President Obama to correct his mistake.  All he has to do is finish his sentence.  Let’s Contact The White House and insist that he do.  Please read on.

Peace, Roy+

Journey into Oblivion: Silwan and the City of David

Date posted: 08/08/2012

By: Melkam Lidet for MIFTAH


Jerusalem lies at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Having occupied east Jerusalem in the 1967 war, Israel claims it is its “eternal and undivided” capital, something the international community including the United States does not recognize (even though president hopeful Mitt Romney begs to differ). For Palestinians, a future Palestinian state will see east Jerusalem as its capital. Thus Jerusalem is a very controversial city where everything that happens there, be it under the guise of religion or science, is controversial and political as well.

Because it is a center for all three Abrahamic faiths– Judaism, Christianity and Islam, it might be obvious how religion meets politics in Jerusalem or in Israel/Palestine in general. Science however, is considered as objective, as close to the ‘truth’ as one can get. In Israel-Palestine nonetheless, science too can be political. The science I am alluding to is archeology; a science that is most relevant to a city with a history of more than 5000 years. As one of the oldest cities in the world which has witnessed multiple layers of civilizations, Jerusalem is indeed historians’ and archeologist’s paradise. Before the city moved to its current, gated location, ancient Jerusalem or “City of David” was located south of what Jews claim is the Temple Mount (Al Aqsa Mosque Compound), in the village of Silwan where several archeological excavations are underway currently.

The City of David or the Palestinian village of Silwan lies in east Jerusalem based on the 1948 Green Line and lies just a few meters from the Dung and Zion Gates of the Old City. It is part of east Jerusalem under Israeli occupation after the 1967 war; hence Israel is the sovereign power there. Archeological excavations are licensed and supervised by the Israeli government though its ministries and authorities. It is managed however, by a private body – the Elad Foundation which is a right-wing ideological foundation affiliated with settling Jews in east Jerusalem. This makes City of David now part of “Jerusalem Walls National Park” the only national park in Israel managed by a private body.

The problem with the ideological affiliation of the managing body is of course in that it dictates the focus of the excavations and the historical narratives that will emerge from the findings in a way would serve its ideology and purpose. In Silwan, the purpose of the excavations is far from seeking the history of ancient Jerusalem objectively. Rather, it has become a search for evidence of events and figures from biblical Jerusalem where interpretation of the findings is based on popular stories associated with the place rather than the find itself. This is not to say that the stories in the Bible are not real or true but to point out that such a narrow research focused on popular figures such as kings overlooks the cultural, political and social aspects of people who lived in the area at different periods in time.

For example, while no substantial finding in the area mentions King David or Solomon, remains from the Abbasid periods as well as Byzantine or Late Roman were found in the Givati parking lot at the northern edge of City of David. But because there is no commutation with the local residents and since the research doesn’t have the interest of the local residents or overall history of the place in mind, the Muslim Abbasid and Byzantine remains were dismantled in search for remains from the Roman/Second Temple period. The reason of course is to tell a single story – that Jews lived here back in history and that they should live here in the present time. In short, its aim is to legitimize illegal Israeli settlements in east Jerusalem.

The plan to grab more Palestinian land without Palestinians under the pretext of sometimes archeology and other times natural conservation is even more evident in the archeological methods employed in Silwan. While digging horizontal tunnels underground is now considered as an archaic archeological method abandoned for many years now, it still remains to be the method used in Silwan where neighborhoods such as Wadi Hilweh will have to bear the consequences of excavation being carried out underneath their houses.

Further, several houses in the neighborhood of Al Bustan are awaiting their demolition because they were built without a permit (since the Israeli authorities do not give construction permits to Palestinians residing in east Jerusalem). With the aim of recreating the “biblical” City of David, their neighborhood will then be transformed to a garden facing what’s believed to be David’s palace. However, neither the remains in the City of David nor Al Bustan neighborhood in Silwan have been proven to be David’s fortress. More land would also be taken away from the residents in realizing the municipality’s plan to build a parking lot for tourists while the neighborhoods in Silwan are in a clear need for schools and hospitals.

If successful in meeting its goal, the City of David will be a closed site where everything is only Jewish with no mention of the Palestinian residents of Silwan or the political sensitivity of the place: walk into the City of David, past narrow alleys with Jewish settlements through the Gardens of David and Solomon, down to the Shiloah (Hezekiah’s tunnel). It will be a journey of oblivion.

Melkam Lidet is a Writer for the Media and Information Department at the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH). She can be contacted at….



The Christian Right, in their unquestioning support of the Israeli government, often forget that almost all of the Christians in the ‘Holy Land’ are Palestinians.

The church in Israel/Palestine indeed has the unenviable task of preaching love and reconciliation between all the peoples of the land (Christian, Muslim and Jew) while enduring outright hostility from so many of their brethren in the West.

Bishop Younan Calls Church to Remain Steadfast, Hopeful, and Prophetic

Rev. Janne Rissanen (Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland) leads the worshipping assembly in the Lord's Prayer with sign language during the service marking day four of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in the Old City of Jerusalem. Photo © ELCJHL/Rev. Elizabeth McHan

JERUSALEM, 25 January 2012 – Worshippers from nearly every Christian tradition crowded into the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in the Old City of Jerusalem last evening to mark day four of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Together, those gathered celebrated a Service of the Word in Arabic, German, and English with Bishop Dr. Munib Younan, of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), preaching.

In his sermon, Younan reflected on the centrality of the cross of Christ not as doctrine or decoration, but as the very way of life, unity, history, experience, and call in the church—not only in the past, but in the present life and witness of the church in society.

“The church today is again called to be bridge-builders and ambassadors of reconciliation.” Younan said. “We are called to play a role in building a modern civil society, but also to inject into society the common values of all religions that promote coexistence, peace, and justice, and accepting the other. We are called to a prophetic role, speaking the truth to power. Only when the church is involved in society, and especially among the suffering, then it will have a future.”

Younan spoke to recent articles published questioning the survival of Arab Christianity in the aftermath of the Arab Spring and developments in the Middle East that point toward a growth in extremism and threaten to curtail human rights, in particular women’s rights.

Yet, Younan said, “even in these circumstances, we will continue to be steadfast and not emigrate. For we are a people who carry a message—a message of love, a message of moderation, a message of undying hope—a message entrusted to us that is so essential in these days as the situation in the entire Middle East continues to develop. We are called to remain because the Lord called us to be brokers of justice and instruments of peace in the Holy Land.”

Younan called on the local Christian community to “Remain steadfast. Do not give up hope. Remember your calling. Be a source for moderation in the midst of a sea of extremism.”

Younan also called upon expatriate and global Christian communities to “take up your crosses in an accompaniment relationship with the local churches. Walk with us as the Emmaus disciples and Jesus walked together on that first Easter afternoon, listening to one another, learning about the current situation in Jerusalem… Come abide with us. Come share our bread. Come and see.”

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