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
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
Three days to go before Good Friday, Israel has not issued permits for Gaza Palestinian Christians to travel to Jerusalem to celebrate Easter, Church authorities have said.
The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem said church authorities had applied for around 600 permits for Gaza Palestinian worshipers to travel, but had not received any.
Gaza is under an ongoing Israeli blockade and people’s movements out of the Gaza Strip is tightly restricted by the Israeli military.
The Israeli military-run authority that operates in the occupied West Bank defended its policy to deny the applicants access to the city of Jerusalem in the West Bank, and said it would only issue permits to people aged at least 55.
FULL ARTICLE 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
The United Nations General Assembly isn’t alone in its lack of support for the Trump administration’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
On Thursday, the body overwhelmingly rejected the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The move is a rebuke of the administration’s decision that many have warned could undermine the peace negotiations Trump promised during his presidential campaign.
But some of the most vocal critics are closer to the issue.
Only 16 percent of Jewish Americans support moving the embassy to Jerusalem immediately, according to AJC’s 2017 Survey of American Jewish Opinion. Slightly more than a third — 36 percent — favor moving it “at a later date in conjunction with progress in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.” But a plurality — 44 percent — disagree with moving the embassy all together.
Nearly 170 Jewish studies scholars from American colleges and universities signed a statement expressing “dismay” at Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital:
“Jerusalem is of immense religious and thus emotional significance to Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike. It is the focus of national aspirations for both Israelis and Palestinians. We hope one day to see a world in which all inhabitants of the land enjoy equal access to the city’s cultural and material resources. Today, unfortunately, that is not the case.
A declaration from the United States government that appears to endorse sole Jewish proprietorship over Jerusalem adds insult to ongoing injury and is practically guaranteed to fan the flames of violence. We therefore call on the U.S. government to take immediate steps to de-escalate the tensions resulting from the President’s declaration and to clarify Palestinians’ legitimate stake in the future of Jerusalem.”
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST
AMMAN — Christian religious and non-clergy figures on Monday hailed and reaffirmed the messages of church leaders conveyed during a meeting attended by His Majesty King Abdullah at the Baptism Site a day earlier.
They confirmed that the Christians of Jordan and Palestine, look at the King, the Custodian of Muslim and Christian holy places in Jerusalem, as the protector of these shrines and the rights of Christians in the occupied city and the guarantor of an “unbreakable unity” between Muslims and Christians.
His Majesty on Sunday met with Christian religious leaders and figures from Jordan and Jerusalem on the occasions of Christmas and the New Year at the Baptism Site (Bethany beyond the Jordan).
The meeting, according to a Royal Court statement, also symbolised solidarity with Jerusalem and Jerusalemites — Muslims and Christians — after the churches of the holy city, Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Jordan decided to turn their seasonal celebrations into an expression of solidarity with Jerusalem, in rejection of the United States’ decision to recognise the city as Israel’s capital.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE JORDAN TIMES
US vice-president Mike Pence’s mission to the Holy Land to defend its shrinking Christian communities has been torpedoed by the refusal of Christian and Muslim prelates and Palestinian leaders to meet him.
The boycott was ignited by outrage over US president Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on December 6th. As this day is celebrated by Christians as the name day of St Nicholas, Mr Trump’s choice of date for his announcement was doubly insulting.
Christian and Muslim Arabs regard East Jerusalem as the occupied capital of a future Palestinian state, a position formally adopted by all 57 Muslim states at last Thursday’s summit in Istanbul. The US alone has recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Instead of beginning his tour on Sunday in Jerusalem and Bethlehem as planned, Mr Pence is set to arrive in Cairo next Wednesday for a brief meeting with president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi before flying to Jerusalem to meet Israeli president Reuven Rivlin and prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and to address Israel’s parliament. An evangelical Christian who urged Mr Trump to make his Jerusalem declaration, Mr Pence will be warmly welcomed by Israelis.
His stay in Cairo was curtailed when he was rebuffed by top Christian and Muslim clerics. Coptic pope Tawadros cancelled an audience with Mr Pence, arguing Mr Trump “did not take into account the feelings of millions of Arab people”. The pope heads the region’s largest Christian community, constituting 10 per cent of Egypt’s 93 million people.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE IRISH TIMES