Palestinian Christians call for justice

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Victor EAPPI - قراءة المزيد لهذا المؤلف

The Lion and the Lamb – Palestinian Christians call for justice

I can see Al Quds (Jerusalem) from my office in Ramallah, but I cannot go there to worship Allah.”
These are the words of Abdul Latif, a West Bank Palestinian Muslim. He, like most Palestinian men in the Occupied Territories, is not allowed to enter Jerusalem for prayer, simply because he is younger than 55.

While Abdul Latif bemoans the fact that he cannot visit the third most holy place in the world for Muslims, Palestinian Christians are also raising their voices in protest at the oppression of their kin.
During my time serving as an EA, Christians in the Holy Land have struck me as a particularly tolerant and active group. They are of course a minority: Three-quarters of people in the West Bank, occupied by Israel, are Muslims, while 17 percent are Jewish, mostly Israeli settlers. The Christian population is small and declining.
But a new political project is emerging among Palestinian Christians that harks back to the days when black preachers spoke out against the injustice of Apartheid in my home country of South Africa.
In early December, hundreds of Palestinian Christians joined a host of supportive international Church leaders - and Rabbis - for the signing of the Palestinian Kairos Document. Inspired by a South African initiative almost twenty five years ago, the document calls on Christians and non-Christians in all countries to work for justice and towards the end of the occupation.
South Africa was represented at the conference by several delegates, and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu sent a note of congratulation.
His Beatitude the Roman Catholic Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah, who was instrumental in the two year process of drafting this document, gave a speech emphasizing “faith, hope and love.”
He emphasized loving one’s enemies, and called for Christians to work with their Muslim and Jewish brothers and sisters to end the occupation and for a just peace for all.
Other church leaders in the West Bank agreed.
“The Church is tasked by the gospel of our Lord to be bridge-builders amongst all religions, to forgive and at the same time to befriend,” said Father Ibrahim Nairouz, a pastor in the West Bank city of Nablus.
“I walk with Imams and we attend workshops together, we respect each other and we tell both Palestinian Muslims and Christians to do the same. We want to build bridges with the Jews also, but they continue to built higher walls and strong fences… and further segregate our society,” he told EAPPI.
He cited a recent incident when the Suheil, the Episcopalian Bishop of Jerusalem, was forced to hold a meeting with Palestinian clergy in Jerusalem, because they were banned from visiting Jerusalem.
“But… one day the lion and the lamb lie together in the book of prophet Isaiah, so we will reconcile and find a new way respecting each other”, he said.
It is the footprints that Jesus Christ left in the Holy land which bring thousands of pilgrims a year to this land. As the numbers of Palestinian Christians decline, Christians are always visible, active in works of peace, justice and love.
Will the Israeli militaristic government of Binyamin Netanyahu come to that realization soon? Will the Palestinian people be free one day to worship in their Holy City

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