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.’
Open Letter from Dr David Toorawa, Lead Commission Member for Israel-Palestine
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
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.
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.
“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:
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.
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.
“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.”