As Christmas approaches, devout Christians feel the need to reconnect with the places where Christ was born and raised, where he tried to spread his message, where he suffered and died. They are beguiled by trips offered by travel companies and Tourist Israel. The Holy Land includes modern day Israel, Palestine and western Jordan.
This business is booming. Do the virtuous seekers of spiritual healing know that they are going to some of the most disputed, heartbreakingly conflicted zones in the world today? Over the centuries, various holy land sites have been sacred to all three Abrahamic faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Jewish believers believe these were promised to them by Abraham, and for Muslims, Jerusalem is where Prophet Mohammed was sent glorious dreams and despatches from Allah. For centuries the three faiths were able to coexist in peace. Not any longer.
The current Israeli government is exerting its dominance like never before. Bethlehem has been turned into a walled prison; last year Palestinians were denied entry into Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, one of Islam’s most revered sites. Benjamin Netanyahu’s voracious mission is now backed by Donald Trump and various fanatical US Christians, to the extent that the President moved the US embassy to Jerusalem, to show Muslim Arabs that they meant nothing to him or his government. The all-powerful Abrahamic God, it seems, has been colonised.
FULL ARTICLE FROM I NEWS
DEIR HANNA, Israel – In this small hillside village in the Lower Galilee, a church steeple and a minaret pierce the sky above its winding streets – neighboring dual structures that are symbolic of life on the ground where the town’s Muslim and Christian inhabitants live peacefully alongside one another.
For the ancient town of Deir Hanna – which consists of fewer than 10,000 residents, approximately 20 percent of whom are Christians and 80 percent Muslims – the two faith communities have coexisted for centuries surrounded by their nearby Jewish neighbors, despite longstanding regional conflict being a way of life.
Yet, as of last month when the Israeli government passed legislation to define itself as “the Nation-State of the Jewish People,” a new source of tension has emerged, where Christians and Muslims alike are charging that the new bill is not only not necessary, but also discriminatory against minority populations – and in this town, their Jewish neighbors agree.
FULL ARTICLE FROM CRUXNOW
Then the Lord saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice. (Isaiah 59:15b)
As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it. (Luke 19:41)
We the undersigned, a group of Palestinian-American Christians from several church traditions, call on all faith communities to:
- Denounce the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.
- Lift up, in your places of worship, the plight of Palestinians, Muslims and Christians alike, recognizing that Israeli policies of occupation and apartheid are leading to the virtual extinction of the indigenous Christian population in Palestine.
- Recognize the urgency of ending Israel’s genocidal siege and attacks on the entire Palestinian hostage population of the Gaza Strip.
- Continue to use economic pressure as well as other nonviolent means to compel Israel to end its apartheid practices and policies against the Palestinian people.
We express deep concern at the increasingly hostile direction of Israeli policies and actions, emboldened by the equally aggressive foreign policy stance of the Trump administration toward the Palestinian people. President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is the final nail in the coffin of the so-called “peace process,” which has now been unmasked as a farce, exposing the United States not as an “honest broker” but as Israel’s unquestioning advocate. There is little doubt that the Trump administration’s Jerusalem decision, although condemned by the overwhelming majority of the international community, will encourage Israel to act with even greater impunity.
FULL ARTICLE FROM MONDOWEISS
An interfaith march held in Ramallah for victims killed by Israeli forces in Gaza was a peaceful display of prayer and protest.
Orthodox Christians and Muslims in the Occupied West Bank have joined a march to remember those who were killed by Israeli forces in Gaza.
FULL ARTICLE WITH VIDEO FROM AL JAZEERA
Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Executive Committee of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) denounced the latest Israeli decision targeting churches and their property in occupied Jerusalem, and said that such violations not only target holy sites, but are attacks against all Palestinians.
She said that freezing church assets in occupied Jerusalem, and the illegal decision to impose taxes on church property, are very serious violations targeting holy sites in occupied Palestine.
“These churches and their lands have existed in the holy land centuries before the Israel occupied Palestine, including Jerusalem – The Palestinian identity and heritage include the oldest and contiguous Christian presence in the holy land,” Dr. Ashrawi added, “Israel is now violating international laws, and basic religious rights, in addition to violating the status quo of the holy sites.”
FULL ARTICLE FROM IMEMC NEWS
In a strikingly rare instance of a visit to Israel by representatives from an Arab country without diplomatic relations, a delegation of religious figures from the Gulf kingdom of Bahrain traveled to the Jewish state last month “to send a message of peace” from King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
“Our message is peaceful coexistence with no government involvement,” said Betsy Mathieson, president of the Bahrain-based nongovernmental organization “This is Bahrain,” who led the delegation.
In an exclusive Times of Israel Persian edition interview with members of the delegation in Jerusalem, Mathieson said that her seven-year-old NGO “celebrates religious freedom and peaceful coexistence by sharing the centuries-old humble Bahraini way of life, where people of all faiths live together in the spirit of mutual respect and love.”
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE TIMES OF ISRAEL
Beit Jala, Palestine – The Israeli occupation of Palestine is the main factor behind the exodus of Palestinian Christians from the region, according to a new study.
The research carried out by the Dar al-Kalima University in the occupied-West Bank town of Beit Jala, concluded that only small percentage of Christians had left Palestine because of concerns over Muslim religious conservatism.
Researchers interviewed more than a thousand people, roughly half of whom were Christian and half Muslim on their outlook on life and if negative, the causes of their pessimism.
“The pressure of Israeli occupation, ongoing constraints, discriminatory policies, arbitrary arrests, confiscation of lands added to the general sense of hopelessness among Palestinian Christians,” the study said.
These conditions have put Palestinian Christians in “a despairing situation where they an no longer perceive a future for their offspring or for themselves,” it added.
FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA