REPORT FROM KUMI NOW MEETING 21.09.2021 JUSTICE AND PEACE COMMUNICATIONS VOLUNTEER COLETTE GILHOOLEY

Justice and Peace Communications Volunteer Colette Gilhooley

I attended a second  meeting of Kumi Now on 21.09.2021 because it is the World Week of Peace for Israel and Palestine this week, Saturday 18th September – 25th September, and I wanted to learn more.

The main speaker was Dr Bolos Swilem a 22 year old from Gaza who had just received his degree certificate in Dentistry on the day of the meeting. He told us there are many issues faced by the youth including persecution, injustice and violence which they are forced to engage with in daily life. The restrictions of the borders limits movement including medical supplies, access to educational opportunities and restricts knowledge from elsewhere such as the opportunities to attend conferences in other countries and learn skills from other medical professionals. There are issues of underground water sea pollution creating increased cancer and mortality rates. There is rising illiteracy, 50% unemployment with most youths terminating their studies at university and career shifting to find other work. There are a decreasing number of healthcare professionals who are often leaving to find work outside and send money back to families. What is needed is fixed term contracts rather than primary contracts to help people live. Men cannot afford to buy a house and get married.

Youth are graduating but without the possibility of getting a job. Many young people are trying to study Masters, however, this often involves travel abroad for better opportunities and it took up to a year for the administrative process including Visa’s, permission to leave the Gaza Strip, permission to go from Gaza to Jordan.

The lack of electricity to 12 hour or less a day affects many things including the mental health of children, the services hospitals can offer, the safe storage of drugs, the mortality rate with those on dialysis being badly affected by an irregular power supply. 

There is rarely permission given to leave the Gaza Strip except at Christmas and Easter, however, even then permission is not given for the whole family so that they do not leave permanently and have a reason to return.

Hope

He said there are many things that can be done to support the youth of Gaza including first and foremost advocating the Palestinian cause, advanced course capacity building or encouraging experienced medical groups to come to Gaza to share their expertise to improve skills.

Dr Swilem did not want us to be saddened by the realities of Gaza because the youth are strong, used to these realities and have hope for the future.  

Interesting Links:

Kumi Now – KUMI NOW – Together For Justice

World Council of Churches – World Week for Peace in Israel and Palestine

Report from Kumi Now Meeting 14.09.2021 Justice and Peace Communications Volunteer Colette Gilhooley

Justice and Peace Communications Volunteer Colette Gilhooley

I attended my first meeting of Kumi Now on 14.09.2021 because the World Week of Peace for Israel and Palestine is coming up on Saturday 18th September – 25th September and I wanted to learn more.

The main speaker was Zoughbi Alzoughbi, founder and director of Wi’am: The Palestinian Conflict Transformation Centre. The Wi’am Centre helps to resolve disputes within the Palestinian community providing services to women, youth, children and international diplomacy. They are involved in Sulha mediation, constructive reconciliation where their staff take on the role of mediators. After people are able to live without seeking revenge which is good for the people and the community. They are dealing with conflict around the clock and it is many kinds from issues which are financial, employment, land, domestic. There is a pressure cooker atmosphere making conflicts more likely. However, they try to solve these conflicts with a smile. With the youth they have exchange programmes, although with Covid these are now virtual. The Centre also welcomes visitors to the Holy Land giving a unique insight into the places and contemporary situations in the area. One issue is access to Rachel’s tomb which was visited by the Pope which has been annexed causing hardship to local business in the area and economic difficulties. The Palestinian community rely on family structures of support; however, The Wi’am Centre has a job creation program helping to support families suffering difficulties.

Other Points of Interest:

  • International indifference is a problem
  • There are more than 100,000 settlers living around Bethlehem.
  • There are less than 45,000 Christians in Bethlehem.
  • Unemployment in Bethlehem is more than 25%.
  • 4,650 Palestinian Political Prisoners in Israeli Jails, 520 held without charge or trial.
  • Covid is high with over 11,000 cases in Israel and 2,000 in Palestine and 80 deaths every day across Israel and Palestine.
  • There are nightly raids next to the Refugee Camp near the centre because it is close to the wall, however tear gas containers and the bullets are collected to make into Christmas ornaments. 

Hope

There are many reasons to hope and try to change the lens for the future away from violence to peace including our role considering how we can show our support for communities in need this Christmas.

Interesting Links:

Kumi Now – KUMI NOW – Together For Justice

Wi’am: The Palestinian Conflict Transformation Centre – Wi’am: The Palestinian Conflict Transformation Center (alaslah.org)

The wall Museum in Bethlehem where youths can express and share their stories. – The “Wall Museum” in Bethlehem, Palestine | Facebook

The Tent of Nations a peace project located on a hundred acre farm, 6 miles from Bethlehem – Help Save 🎪Tent of Nations (salsalabs.org)

World Council of Churches – World Week for Peace in Israel and Palestine

The World Week of Peace for Israel and Palestine 18th September – 25th September 2021

Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem, with Dome of the Chain in the foreground

The World Week of Peace for Israel and Palestine is an annual event which is taking place this year on Saturday 18th – Saturday 25th September 2021 promoted by the World Council of Churches (WCC). The aim of this week of peace is for a united focus on promoting and praying for peace for all people in the Holy Land. 

Rev Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca, acting Secretary of WCC, reflected: “The annual world week for peace in Palestine and Israel offers an opportunity for all of us who share the hope of justice and peace in the Holy Land to unite around the globe in solidarity and peaceful action, and to create a common international public witness”.

We are invited to join with church, faith-based communities and civil society organisations around the world to pray, advocate and stand in solidarity for just peace for all in Israel and Palestine. This year there is a focus on the role of art and reconciliation. ‘I will also praise you with a harp, even your truth, O my God (Psalm 71:22).

Rt. Rev Nicholas Hudson, lead Bishop of Justice and Peace in the Diocese of Westminster, writes:

“My prayers are with all those I’ve met in the Holy Land who are not only living through the recurrence of devastating wars, but also the daily horrors of occupation, blockade, and dispossession. In particular we recall the confiscations of homes and violations of holy sites, that resulted in such catastrophic violence earlier this year and continue today.

No sustainable resolution can be imposed by military or political means; it will only be achieved by respecting human dignity without exception. Therefore as we come together in prayer for peace, let us also raise our voices for justice.”

There are a number of ways that you can support this week including keeping this intention for peace in your prayers. If you are creative perhaps you can pray using the medium of paintings, lyrics, music, dance and other artistic expressions. Perhaps you could promote this week of peace on social media sharing this intention with friends.

“Let us pray as though everything depended on God but work as though everything depended on us” (St Augustine)

RESOURCES

Pax Christi – https://paxchristi.org.uk/campaigns/israel-and-palestine/world-week-for-peace-in-pi/

EAPPI – The World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (WCC-EAPPI) was created in 2002 by the World Council of Churches based on a letter and an appeal from local church leaders to create an international presence in the country. There are 25-30 volunteers there on a three month rotation in accompanying, offering protective presence and witness. https://eappi.org/en/about. There are 25-30 volunteers there on a three month rotation in accompanying, offering protective presence and witness. https://eappi.org/en/about

If you would like to find out more you can sign up for EAPPI eye-witness blog. EAPPI work as witnesses helping to relay what is happening https://www.eyewitnessblogs.com/

More information on the EAPPI and a very good short film available at: https://www.quaker.org.uk/our-work/eappi

There is a EAPPI Webinar on 20 September. More details can be found at Webinar on Forced Displacement of Palestinians from East Jerusalem | World Council of Churches (oikoumene.org)

Bishop calls for end to the violence engulfing Holy Land

Source: CCN / Independent Catholic News

Bishop Declan Lang, Chair of the Bishops’ International Affairs department has repeated calls for an end to “the occupation, discrimination and human rights violations that propagate violent attacks on civilians, standing in the way of a stable and peaceful future for Palestinians and Israelis.”

In a statement, Bishop Lang who is also Chair of the Holy Land Coordination of bishops which – before the pandemic usually visits the Christian community in Israel and Palestine once a year, says:

‘As people of peace, we pray for an end to the airstrikes, shooting, missile attacks, and communal violence engulfing the Holy Land.

Pope Francis reminds us that: “Every act of violence committed against a human being is a wound in humanity’s flesh; every violent death diminishes us as people.”

The local churches have clearly stated that peace requires justice. We echo their calls for an end to the occupation, discrimination and human rights violations that propagate violent attacks on civilians, standing in the way of a stable and peaceful future for Palestinians and Israelis.

We reaffirm our commitment to the internationally recognised status of Jerusalem, the Status Quo of its holy sites, and the equal rights of Jews, Christians and Muslims in the city.

At this critical time let us also offer our support to those humanitarian organisations working tirelessly to save lives and alleviate suffering.’

Testimony to Oasis of Peace – a Prototype for Israel-Palestine

Oasis of Peace – Neve Shalom / Wahat al Salam

Open Letter from Dr David Toorawa, Lead Commission Member for Israel-Palestine

Dear Friends,

Some of you may have caught the interview today on BBC Radio 4 “Broadcasting House ” with Paddy O’Connell,  where two friends from an Israeli village spoke about the madness which has overtaken two peoples yet again.

One was an Israeli Jew, the other an Israeli Palestinian. The village is Oasis of Peace ( Neve Shalom / Wahat al Salam).

I was privileged to visit and stay at Neve Shalom  in 2013 in order to explore why a Catholic priest, Fr Bruno Hussar,  should wish to found a community where Jews & Arabs could live in peace. He did so on land donated by the Trappist monastery of Latroun, a magical place. The story is likewise magical, but not accomplished without a great deal of prayer & hard work.

It was a revelation to sit in English classes for the children of both “communities” , where  they were taught by a teacher moving with equal facility from Hebrew to Arabic  to English. 

The atmosphere at Neve Shalom  needs replication throughout the Holy Land. Fr Bruno’s vision has yet to be tried beyond the original village….

Fr Bruno, who died in 1996, is buried in the village, overlooking the Ayalon valley . Also  – see Joshua 10.v 12

Please take some time to visit the Oasis of Peace website and “Broadcasting House”….. the interview was circa 0930hrs

What we do | British Friends Of Neve Shalom – Wahat Al-Salam (oasisofpeace.org.uk)

History | British Friends Of Neve Shalom – Wahat Al-Salam (oasisofpeace.org.uk)

BBC Radio 4 – Broadcasting House, 16/05/2021

NJPN/Pax Christi Open Letter to Cardinal Nichols on Jerusalem

Source: Independent Catholic News

Wednesday, 12th May 2021

Your Eminence,

Those at the AGM of the National Justice and Peace Network, meeting on Saturday, were deeply shocked to hear of the attack by Israeli Police on Palestinians at prayer in the Al Aqsa Mosque on Friday evening. Palestinian worshippers have been denied access to the Al Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan and this, along with the police and military incursions into this holy place, the use of stun grenades, rubber coated steel bullets and water cannons on those at worship, all contravene international law.

All of this is made worse by that fact that this is one of the most important times of the Muslim Year. Saturday’s attacks took place at Laylat-al-Qadr, the most holy day in the Muslim month of Ramadan, a time when Palestinians from all over the West Bank would attempt to pray in their most Holy Place. It followed the aggressive violence of armed Israeli settlers invading the communal Iftar meal of families in Sheikh Jarrah, upturning their tables, invading their homes and attacking women, men and children.

This excessive violence has continued since then and several Palestinian children are among the hundreds wounded. The violence has been described by some of the worst seen in Jerusalem for many years.

Palestinians are suffering the daily loss of their fundamental human rights, are constantly under threat of forced removal from their homes as in the Sheikh Jarrah district of occupied East Jerusalem.

Many news outlets are describing these incidents as ‘clashes’ and so inferring that these are incidents between equally armed sides. This is, of course, not the case. Unarmed worshippers were attacked by heavily armed police and at other times by even more heavily armed military.

We urge you and the Bishops of England and Wales to answer the call of the Heads of Churches in Palestine who say:

‘We call upon the International Community, the Churches and all people of goodwill to intervene in order to put an end to these provocative actions, and to continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. We join in prayer with the intention of the Holy Father Pope Francis that “the multi-religious and multi-cultural identity of the Holy City might be respected and that fraternity might prevail.”

We further ask you to:

– Tell our Sisters and Brothers in Palestine, and all those who are working for peace in Palestine and Israel, that we stand in solidarity and prayer with them in this on-going Nakba;

– Call for a day of prayer, in England and Wales, on Saturday 15th May for peace and justice in Palestine, and in particular in Jerusalem, as Palestinians recall the Nakba (the Day of Catastrophe);

– Publicly denounce the violent attacks on worshippers that have taken place in Sheikh Jarrah, the Al Aqsa Mosque and Haram al Sharif;

– Call on the Israeli Government, through the Israeli Embassy in London: to halt all forced evictions in Sheikh Jarrah, which if they proceed, will violate Israel’s obligations under international law; and to end the violence against worshippers and enable full access to all places of worship in keeping with international law.

Yours in solidarity,

Paul Southgate (Chair, National Justice & Peace Network)

Ann Farr (Chair, Pax Christi)

Pax Christi Call to Urgent Action for Palestine

Source: Pax Christi England and Wales, Independent Catholic News

You’ve probably all seen the shocking scenes from Jerusalem over the last few days. The violence in Jerusalem by heavily armed Israeli police, military and settlers, has escalated drastically in the last few days. Families in the Sheikh Jarrah district of occupied East Jerusalem have been the focus of excessive violence in which many have been traumatised when their homes were invaded and they were physically attacked and injured.

About 500 people are under threat of forced eviction from their homes so that a group of Israeli settlers can take them over. Last week as the families sat down to break their fast at a communal meal in the street outside their homes, they were interrupted by armed Israeli settlers who rampaged throughout the area, upturning the tables, attacking women, men and children and invading their homes. Many were injured and seriously traumatised.

During Ramadan, many Palestinians Muslims have been prevented from getting to the Al Aqsa Mosque, their most sacred place of worship. Last Friday and over the weekend, people at prayer in the Mosque were subjected to violent attacks by the Israeli Police and Military during which stun grenades, rubber coated steel bullets, tear gas and water cannon were used against them. Since then the violence has escalated and more worshippers have been attacked whilst at prayer and others on the courtyard area outside.

The Heads of Churches in Jerusalem have issued a statement calling on us all to take action: www.cbcew.org.uk/latin-patriarchate-reacts-to-recent-violence-in-jerusalem/ and say:

“We call upon the International Community, the Churches and all people of goodwill to intervene in order to put an end to these provocative actions, and to continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. We join in prayer with the intention of the Holy Father Pope Francis that “the multi-religious and multi-cultural identity of the Holy City might be respected and that fraternity might prevail.”

Pax Christi, England and Wales is responding to that call by asking our members and friends to join with us in the following urgent actions:

Urgent Actions:

Prayer:

Please join in our Pax Christi International call to prayer in ‘Circles of Silence’ on or near Saturday 15 May, as Palestinians recall the Nakba (catastrophe);

Light a candle each day/night and pray for peace with justice in Palestine and Israel;

Ask your parish/community to include prayers this weekend for the Peace of Jerusalem, and an end to the violence and forced evictions of Palestinian families from their homes.

Write to your local Church Leaders asking them to:

  • Call the local community to prayer for peace with justice in Palestine and Israel;
  • Speak out publicly to condemn the use of military force against people at prayer in the Al Aqsa Mosque and the forced evictions of Palestinians from their homes;
  • Send messages of solidarity and prayer to our Sisters and Brothers in Palestine.

Write to your MP/Elected Representative:

Please send them the CAABU statement (below) and ask them to:

  • speak out publically and call on the Israeli Government to immediately withdraw all troops from the area of the Al Aqsa Mosque;
  • end the violence against Palestinian protestors;
  • halt all planned evictions of families in the Sheikh Jarrah area of occupied East Jerusalem which, if carried out, would violate international law.

Caabu statement – www.caabu.org/news/news/uk-must-take-action-stop-israeli-war-crimes-occupied-east-jerusalem-save-sheikh-jarrah

Information for your networks, elected reps and faith leaders:

Pax Christi International statement – https://paxchristi.net/2021/04/27/pax-christi-international-calls-on-un-to-oppose-sheikj-jarrah-silwan-evictions/

World Council of Churches calls for end to violence, urges respect of status quo of holy sites in Jerusalem: www.oikoumene.org/news/wcc-calls-for-end-to-violence-urges-respect-of-status-quo-of-holy-sites-in-jerusalem

UN statement – https://unsco.unmissions.org/statement-un-special-coordinator-tor-wennesland-surge-tensions-and-violence-occupied-west-bank

Eye-Witness account from worshipper in Mosque attack: www.middleeasteye.net/news/israel-palestine-aqsa-raid-eyewitness-account

The history of the Sheikh Jarrah area of occupied East Jerusalem: www.facebook.com/hiddenpalestine/

Footage of the Israeli military entering Al Aqsa mosque while Muslims attend worship for the end of Ramadan – https://twitter.com/arwaib/status/1390800051887345669

Here’s what our governments have been saying:

Irish government – www.middleeastmonitor.com/20210503-ireland-calls-on-israel-to-respect-international-law/

UK government – www.gov.uk/government/news/statement-by-france-germany-italy-spain-and-the-united-kingdom-on-israeli-settlements

Pax Christi England and Wales

Tags: PalestinePax ChristiSheikh JarrahAl Aqsa MosqueJerusalem

Supporting the Church of the Holy Land – Bishop Nicholas Hudson

This excellent reflection from Bishop Nicholas Hudson, looking back on this year’s Holy Land Co-ordination, gives his thoughts on the virtual pilgrimage of bishops from around the world to the lands of Christ.

The Holy Land Co-ordination is an annual pilgrimage to support the Christians and people of the region but this year was a remote gathering due to travel restrictions needed to combat the spread of Covid-19.

Bishop Hudson is an auxiliary Bishop for the Diocese of Westminster and was representing England and Wales as well as COMECE – the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the EU.

Virtual Holy Land Co-ordination on the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales website

Press Statement on the scheduled annexation of Palestinian West Bank territory on 1st July 2020

“Westminster Justice & Peace Commission stands with people of the Holy Land in the face of plans for unilateral Israeli annexation of West Bank Palestinian territory, scheduled for 1st July 2020. Our condemnation follows that of the united Church leadership in the Holy Land, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, and that of the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Prominent Jewish  members of British society have also expressed alarm at the prospect.

Annexation will all but destroy chances for a negotiated peace, further limiting prospects of establishing a Palestinian state. More violence is likely and  the lives of Palestinians, suffering already under Israeli occupation, will be further degraded.  It will do nothing to enhance Israel’s standing in the world.

The Commission calls on Israel and the United States to respect International Law and existing UN resolutions and to abandon such a reckless plan, in the name of justice and peace.”

Statement on the Annexation from the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, 24th June 2020