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Jerusalem

 

Feature story : “We identify more with Good Friday than with Easter”

24.03.2016 in ACN Canada, ACN Feature, Adaptation Mario Bard, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, AED Canada, Aide à l’Église en détresse., By Oliver Maksan, By Oliver Maksan, Feature Story, Holy Land, Israel, Jerusalem, Journey with ACN, Mario Bard, Middle East, Moyen-Orient, Uncategorized, Voyager avec l’AED

Jerusalem, the Holy Land

“We identify more with Good Friday than with Easter”

Holy Week has begun in Jerusalem with the big Palm Sunday procession – but the political situation has left its mark   

 

Jerusalem belongs to the Christians on Palm Sunday. Bearing palm fronds and olive branches, thousands of locals and visitors from all over the world make their way singing and praying down the Mount of Olives to the Old City of Jerusalem to receive the blessing of the Latin Patriarch.

 

Much to the annoyance of motorists, Israeli police close off the streets to traffic so that the kilometres long procession can pass through unhindered. Long after the Palm Sunday procession has ended, the celebrations continue in and close to the Christian quarter of the Old City. Even the tram has to temporarily discontinue operations when the Christian scout groups parade with their bagpipes. With these celebrations Palestinian Christians – only a small minority in both Israel and Palestine – not only want to commemorate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, but also show Jews and Muslims: We are still here – even though we only make up two percent of the population in Israel, and even less in Palestine.

 

This year however, the joy was subdued. The wave of violence that has shaken the Holy Land since last autumn has left its mark. Since fewer foreign pilgrims are traveling to the Holy Land because of the current situation, the procession was much smaller than usual. In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), a representative of the Israeli police estimated that the procession, which had 30,000 participants last year, was probably only half as large this year. Most importantly, however: Christians from the West Bank were missing.

 

Bishop Fouad Twal leads the procession on Palms Sunday 2016.

Bishop Fouad Twal leads the procession on Palms Sunday 2016.

“The people are afraid to come to Jerusalem”

 

“Last year we arrived from Bethlehem in seven buses. This year there were only three,” explained Johnny, a Catholic from the birthplace of Christ. He said that in contrast to previous years, no Christians came from West Bank cities such as Nablus or Jenin. The reason, he explained, was that Israeli authorities only started issuing entry permits to Jerusalem very late this year. “We only found out on Friday whether we would be able to go on Sunday. For many this was just too short notice,” he told the pastoral charity.

 

However, Johnny then said, what the real reason was: “The people are afraid to come to Jerusalem. They fear that something could happen to them. We constantly hear about Palestinians being shot here.”

 

In fact, since autumn more than 180 Palestinians have died in clashes with Israeli security forces in the Holy Land. However, many of them were killed because they attacked Israelis, including civilians. The attacks were carried out with knives, scissors or guns. More than 30 Jews were killed in this way. Israelis speak of victims of terrorism when referring to their dead and insist on their right to self-defence. Most Palestinians consider their dead to be resistance fighters who were executed by Israelis without sentencing. These viewpoints are irreconcilable. And thus hatred and distrust continue to grow on both sides.

 

“The church is opposed to any form of violence, be it from Palestinians or from Israeli soldiers. After all, the fact that they are wearing a uniform does not justify everything they do. However, at the same time we are for justice. It is simply not enough to say: No more violence. As long as there is injustice, there will be no peace,” Jamal Khader, said the rector of the Latin Patriarchate Seminary in Beit Jalla, a neighbouring town of Bethlehem.

 

Jerusalem has to be an open city. It belongs to everyone…

 

In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, he was not surprised to hear about the drop in the number of visitors to the Palm Sunday procession this year. “I can understand that Palestinian Christians do not feel like coming to Jerusalem – and that despite the fact that it is Easter and we traditionally celebrate it in Jerusalem.” The priest said that it all started in the late nineties with the checkpoints. “The people often had to wait for hours. Then came the

The city of Jerusalem.

The city of Jerusalem.

wall and the permits. I used to come to Jerusalem for an ice cream. Today, I avoid coming here whenever I can. I do not want to have to pass through the checkpoints. And many feel the same.”

 

Father Jamal believes that Israel wants to discourage Palestinians from visiting Jerusalem. “Not everyone is issued an entry permit for the high feast days. Sometimes only the parents receive a permit and not the children. Then everyone stays home of course. Sometimes they are all issued a permit, but are then turned back again for some reason. This can’t be. Jerusalem has to be an open city. It belongs to everyone, Jews, Christians, Muslims. It can never be an exclusive city. Because then there will never be peace.”

 

Father Khader said that the political situation also influences how Palestinian Christians celebrate Easter. “We Christians of Palestine identify more with Good Friday than with Easter. We as Palestinians can closely relate to the sufferings of Christ. When we see Christ suffering, we see our suffering. The Gospels of the Passion not only tell the story of Jesus, but also our own. That does not mean that we do not believe in resurrection and the hope that goes along with this. But we are not that far yet.”

 

Interview by Oliver Maksan
Adaptation: Amanda Griffin, ACN Canada.


 

 

ACN Press – Abbey targeted by extremists in Jerusalem

21.01.2016 in Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By Oliver Maksan, Jerusalem, Press Release, press@acn-intl.org

Jerusalem

“Praying for those who hate us”

The Abbey of the Dormition in Jerusalem has been targeted by vandals again. Last Saturday night, unknown persons defaced the walls and doors of the German-speaking Benedictine monastery on the outer edges of the Old City of Jerusalem.

Also targeted were nearby establishments of the Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic Church. The graffiti, which had been written in Hebrew and in several different handwriting styles, proclaimed: “Christians go to hell,”; “Death to heathen Christians, the heretical enemies of Israel,” “Revenge for Israelis” or “Erased be His name.”

Holy Land/Jerusalem, 19 Jan. 2016. The Abbey of the Dormition in Jerusalem has once again been targeted by vandals. On Saturday night, unknown persons defaced the walls and doors of the German-speaking Benedictine monastery on the outer edges of the Old City of Jerusalem. Also targeted were nearby establishments of the Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic church. The graffiti, which had been written in Hebrew and in several different handwriting styles, proclaimed: “Christians go to hell”, “Death to heathen Christians, the heretical enemies of Israel”, “Revenge for Israelis” or “Erased be His name”. A sword dripping with blood was also drawn next to a Star of David. Only this very small file quality available

© Latin Patriarchate of Jerusale

A sword dripping with blood was also drawn next to a Star of David.

The community of monks reacted with dismay to the incidents. “We are praying for those who hate us,” Father Nikodemus Schnabel, sub-prior of the monastery, said to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). “If we are being attacked because we are Christians, then we want to react as Christians.” When asked, Father Nikodemus was not able to explain why the extremists had targeted the Abbey of the Dormition again. However, he emphasized that the Jewish community had reacted with commiseration.

 

Holy Land/Jerusalem, 19 Jan. 2016. The Abbey of the Dormition in Jerusalem has once again been targeted by vandals. On Saturday night, unknown persons defaced the walls and doors of the German-speaking Benedictine monastery on the outer edges of the Old City of Jerusalem. Also targeted were nearby establishments of the Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic church. The graffiti, which had been written in Hebrew and in several different handwriting styles, proclaimed: “Christians go to hell”, “Death to heathen Christians, the heretical enemies of Israel”, “Revenge for Israelis” or “Erased be His name”. A sword dripping with blood was also drawn next to a Star of David. Only this very small file quality available

© Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem          Abbey of the Dormition in Jerusalem  – The graffiti, which had been written in Hebrew and in several different handwriting styles, proclaimed: “Christians go to hell”, “Death to heathen Christians, the heretical enemies of Israel”, “Revenge for Israelis” or “Erased be His name”.

“We are thankful for all of our friends in Israel who stand by us in solidarity,” said Father Nikodemus. “We as monks of the Abbey of the Dormition will not cease praying for reconciliation, justice and peace – as well as for the perpetrators of last night, that the hatred may disappear from their hearts.” But in the meantime, he has also called for the Israeli authorities to act.  “We ask that the security forces take this criminal act seriously and finally take steps to improve the security situation on Mount Zion, something which has been promised to us since the summer of 2013.”

The police had already approved the installation of cameras in the summer of 2013, after parked cars belonging to the monastery were heavily damaged and vitriolic graffiti was discovered. However, Father Nikodemus said that nothing has happened to date. Over the last few years the Benedictine community has repeatedly been targeted by what are suspected to be Jewish extremists.

Shortly after Pope Francis visited in May of 2014, an attempt was made to set fire to the abbey church in Jerusalem. Up to this point, the worst incident was an arson attack on Tabgha Priory belonging to the monastic community on the Sea of Galilee, in June of 2015. The priory sustained damages totaling more than 2.32 million dollars. Two people suffered from smoke poisoning. The perpetrators, Jewish extremists, have since been arrested. It remains unclear how much of the costs for the reconstruction of the destroyed parts of the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes the state of Israel will undertake to pay.

For years now, Christian and Muslim churches and establishments have been under attack by what are presumably Jewish extremists. The perpetrators are suspected to be primarily extremist Jews who support the Settlement movement. Hardly any arrests or convictions have yet to be made. Recently, in December, the cemetery of the Salesian monastery of Beit Gemal in Israel was desecrated by unknown persons who overturned and damaged crosses.

 

 

*  Cover photo:  Father Nikodemus Schnabel OSB is subprior of the German speaking Benedictine monastery Dormitio Mariae in Jerusalem. The abbey has been attacked repeatedly by presumably Jewish extremists.

 

 

By Oliver Maksan, ACN International, press@acn-intl.org

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada, ag@acn-aed-ca.org

 


 

PRESS RELEASE: Israël- Palestine – « An insult to peace »

24.08.2015 in By Robert Lalonde, Israel, Jerusalem, Palestine, Press Release
Palestine, Cremisan Valley 03.08.2012 Wall section which shall to be extended and runs through the land of the Christians of Beit Jala

Palestine, Cremisan Valley

Israël- Palestine

« An insult to peace »

Clare Creegan, ACN International

Adapted by Robert Lalonde, ACN Canada

Montreal/Königstein/Surrey, 24th August 2015 – The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem has strongly condemned the decision to resume the construction of the West Bank Barrier, calling it “an insult to peace.”

 On Monday 17th August, bulldozers arrived to restart the building of the barrier through the Cremisan ​​Valley near Bethlehem – despite the Supreme Court having rejected a planned route through the area in April 2015, after a nine-year legal battle.

Israeli authorities began work on the West Bank Barrier, which separates parts of the Palestinian Territories from Israel, in 2002 following a spate of suicide bombings by militant groups. According to a statement by the Latin Patriarchate sent to Aid to the Church in Need: “Israeli bulldozers arrived unannounced on private property in Beir Ona, near the Cremisan Valley, to resume the construction of the separation wall. The people of the area have noted with surprise and pain that their 50, centuries-old olive trees have been uprooted.”

A cruel blow to the hopes raised

Israel, June 2014 Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal portrait. Photo taken in the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem.

Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal

His Beatitude Fouad Twal called on the Israeli authorities to wait for the outcome of a petition submitted by the families of the Valley to the Supreme Court a few days ago. The statement from the Latin Patriarchate expressed the Patriarch’s “sadness and frustration of those oppressed” by the building of the barrier and condemned the “injustice done to them”.

The security wall’s route has been opposed by local Christian leaders who have stated that its route deviates from the Green Line – the boundary between the State of Israel and the Palestinian territories according to the 1949 armistice agreements.

The chair of the Department for International Affairs of the episcopal conference of England and Wales, Bishop Declan Lang, also lent his voice in support of Patriarch Twal condemning the Israeli authority’s actions. He said: “The action of the IDF [Israel Defence Forces] in bulldozing olive trees to prepare for the construction of the separation barrier is a cruel blow to the hopes raised by the recent Supreme Court ruling. I urge the Israeli authorities to stop construction and reconsider urgently their approach to the people of the Cremisan Valley which has caused such grave injustice.”

Bishop Lang added his thoughts were with those “facing this unjust and difficult situation and who are seeking peace in the midst of this conflict. »

ACN Press – Holy Land – “Islamic State in Palestine”

08.07.2015 in ACN International, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By Oliver Maksan, Holy Land, Jerusalem, Persecution of Christians

In Jerusalem a group called “Islamic State in Palestine” calls on Christians to leave

Holy Land

“We must take threats seriously”

Mons. Shomali, auxiliary bishop of the Latin Patriarchate of JerJerusalem/Montreal, Wednesday July 8, 2015 – Following the distribution of anti-Christian leaflets in Jerusalem, Auxiliary Bishop William Shomali of the Latin Patriarchate called for people to be vigilant. “In some ways we must take these threats seriously. It would be enough that three young fundamentalists, armed with knives, attack a Christian home to cause panic in the Christian community,” Auxiliary Bishop Shomali told the Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) on Friday.  

In leaflets distributed last week in Jerusalem a group calling itself “Islamic State in Palestine” called on Christians to leave the city by the end of the Islamic month of fasting Ramadan on July 18. If they do not comply they are threatened with death.

TIsrael, Jerusalem July 2015The flyers, which displayed an imagehe Arabic leaflets bear the black flag of the terrorist group “Islamic State”. The threats are reminiscent of an ultimatum set by the “Islamic State” in July 2014 for the Christians in the north Iraqi city of Mosul. Since the rise of “Islamic State” there have also repeatedly been declarations of sympathy for the group in the areas occupied by the Israelis. In addition, in this and the previous year Arab Israelis of the Muslim faith have tried time and again to join the terrorist militia as fighters.

Auxiliary Bishop Shomali explained that the Patriarchate had not itself contacted the Israeli authorities in connection with the leaflets,”… but the Israelis are well informed. Among the Christians in the Holy Land there is anxiety about the leaflets, although only a moderate anxiety,” according to the Auxiliary Bishop, who is responsible in the Patriarchate for Jerusalem and the Palestinian areas. “There are threats. But if we compare our situation with what is happening in neighbouring countries, we still feel much more secure. We are not feeling panic.”

“Former Patriarch Sabbah,” continues Msgr Shomali, “answered to the Isis leaflet that we are not afraid and that we will remain in the Land. His words gave peace to many people.”

The leaflet incident took place shortly after an arson attack, probably committed by Jewish extremists, on the Catholic Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes in Tabgha (Israel). The church and monastery were partly severely damaged in the middle of June. Thousands of Arab Christians living in Israel expressed their anger and demonstrated in Tabgha for improved protection of Christian facilities by the Israeli authorities and for greater equality.

Auxiliary Bishop William Shomali from the Latin Patriarchate pra

 

In Israel, including East Jerusalem occupied in 1967, about 160,000 Christians are living at present. The majority of these are Arab citizens of Israel. The proportion of Christians in relation to the total population of Israel is about two per cent.