Tag Archives: Israel

wish I were there

21 Aug

Postcards sometimes come in the mail with a message from our friends, “Wish you were here.”

I am hoping my friends in the town of Beit Jala, in the area of Bethlehem, in the West Bank of Palestine, will see this message, sent by me to them, “Wish I were there.”

I wish I were there.

I wish I were there with you in Cremisan Valley.

I wish I were there with you to prayerfully protest the taking of your land.

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I wish I were there with you, as the Israeli government under the protection of the Israeli Defense Forces starts again to uproot your olive trees, to clear the way for the separation wall that they prepare to build on your land.

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I wish I were there to genuflect with you and your priests before the altar, decorated with new olive trees in front of it and Israeli soldiers behind it; before the altar, on which rests that blue ceramic chalice that was the gift of our parish and our teachers to you, when we celebrated Mass with you in that same valley. 082115 11222005_980856798657888_5074133491311356836_n

I wish I were there to stand beside your Catholic parish priest as he stands in front of – and stands up to – the Israeli soldiers.

082115 11887968_1097448430284141_441573760240644836_nI wish I were there with you in Cremisan Valley.

I wish I were there.

(Unfamiliar with the news story of August 18, 2015: see Israel resumes work on controversial separation wall in Cremisan ​​valley.)

it’s time

20 Sep

World Week for Peace in Palestine 21-27 September Israel 2014

World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel

21 – 27 September 2014

An initiative of the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) of the World Council of Churches

It’s time for Palestine. It’s time for Palestinians and Israelis to share a just peace.

It’s time to respect human lives in the land called holy. It’s time for healing to begin in wounded souls. It’s time to end more than 60 years of conflict, oppression and fear.  It’s time for freedom from occupation. 

It’s time for equal rights.  It’s time to stop discrimination, segregation and restrictions on movement. It’s time for those who put up walls and fences to build them on their own property. It’s time to stop bulldozing one community’s homes and building homes for the other community on land that is not theirs. It’s time to do away with double standards.

It’s time for Israeli citizens to have security and secure borders agreed with their neighbours.  It’s time for the international community to implement more than 60 years of United Nations resolutions. It’s time for Israel’s government to complete the bargain offered in the Arab Peace Initiative.   It’s time for those who represent the Palestinian people to all be involved in making peace. It’s time for people who have been refugees for more than 60 years to regain their rights and a permanent home.   It’s time to assist settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territories to make their home in Israel. It’s time for self-determination.

It’s time for foreigners to visit Bethlehem and other towns imprisoned by the wall. It’s time to see settlements in their comfort and refugee camps in their despair.  It’s time for people living more than 40 years under occupation to feel new solidarity from a watching world.

It’s time to name the shame of collective punishment and to end it in all its forms. It’s time to be revolted by violence against civilians and for civilians on both sides to be safe. It’s time for both sides to release their prisoners and give those justly accused a fair trial.  It’s time to reunite the people of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It’s time for all parties to obey international humanitarian and human rights law.

It’s time to share Jerusalem as the capital of two nations and a city holy to three religions. It’s time for Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities to be free to visit their holy sites. It’s time in Palestine as in Israel for olive trees to flourish and grow old.

It’s time to honour all who have suffered, Palestinians and Israelis. It’s time to learn from past wrongs. It’s time to understand pent-up anger and begin to set things right. It’s time for those with blood on their hands to acknowledge what they have done.  It’s time to seek forgiveness between communities and to repair a broken land together. It’s time to move forward as human beings who are all made in the image of God.

All who are able to speak truth to power must speak it. All who would break the silence surrounding injustice must break it. All who have something to give for peace must give it.

For Palestine, for Israel and for a troubled world, it’s time for peace.

recently “renovated”

7 Aug

This is the chapel where the Sisters used to live at Holy Family Catholic Church in Gaza, prior to the warring between Israel and Hamas. The chapel had been recently renovated.Holy Family chapel 01

Here’s the chapel after it was “renovated” during the shelling of Gaza. Notice that the tabernacle was “moved” from its place. 

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The typical room of one of the sisters looked, prior to the warring, like you would expect a sister’s room to look: simple, neat and clean, desk cleared, bed made, statues.Holy Family sisters room 01

Thankfully the sisters had left before the room was shelled. 

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The priest who heads the Chancery, the official administrative office of the Archbishop Twal of the Latin Patriarchate Jerusalem, sent these photos to me to me by email today. I had asked for a couple photos to help me ask my parishioners for money to send to Jerusalem to help the people of Gaza. Father George was kind and quick with his response.

Here at our St. Andrew parish we will continue to pray until peace prevails. May the temporary mutual ceasefire lead to lasting safety and justice, followed by peace for all. May the cautious calm now lead eventually to a final peace – for Israelis and Palestinians, for Christians, Jews and Muslims.

our holy fifty-nine minutes

27 Jul

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A holy hour is by tradition an hour of prayer, often in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament placed in the monstrance on the altar.

This evening at St. Andrew there was a holy hour for peace in the Middle East. After the time of prayer, spoken and sung and silent, one attendee teasingly informed the deacon that the prayer was one minute short of the promised hour, so that technically, it was not a holy “hour.”  

But holy it was!holy 59 minutes 03

We sang the chaplet of divine mercy, repeating over and over in a haunting and massaging melody,

“Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.”

“For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”

“Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”

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Then we prayed a “litany of presence.”

Make your presence known, Lord,

to the people of Gaza

to the people of Israel

to the people of the West Bank

to the people of Jordan

make your presence known, Lord,

to President Rivlin of Israel

to Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel

to President Abbas of Palestine

make your presence known, Lord,

to the people of Syria

to the people of Iraq

to the destructive forces in Syria and Iraq

make your presence known, Lord,

to Pope Francis

to Archbishop Fouad Twal of the Holy Land

to Bishop William Shomali of the Holy Land

to Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako of Iraq

to Father Jorge Hernandez of Gaza

make your presence known, Lord,

to the children in the Middle East who live in fear

to the children who are orphaned

to the children who are wounded

to the children living in refugee camps

make your presence known, Lord,

to all those who are wounded and have died in the conflicts

to all those who mourn for them

to the living and the dead lost in the rubble

make your presence known, Lord,

to the Salesian Sisters and Monks of the Cremisan

to the Salesian school children

to the decision makers of the Cremisan land

make your presence known, Lord,

to those who pray for peace in the Middle East

 make your presence known, Lord.

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After the prayer a bow appeared in the sky, reminding us of God’s promise to Noah after the flood of destruction never to allow the earth to be destroyed again. God placed a bow in the sky to remind himself. This bow tonight, ever so faint,  helped us to remember, too.

hear our cry for mercy, O Lord

24 Jul

as we pray … 

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  • for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas

 

  • for the resumption of humanitarian relief for the people of Gaza through Catholic Relief Services

 

  • for the Israeli innocents who live in fear of Hamas’ indiscriminate rocket attacks on civilian areas

 

  • for the Palestinian innocents who live in fear for their lives from air and ground attacks or suffer the humiliations of occupation

 

  • for the avoidance of excessive actions of hostility and indiscriminate punishment which can breed a whole new generation of terrorists

 

  • for the emergence of a viable and independent Palestinian state living alongside a recognized and secure Israel which will bring the peace for which majorities of both Israelis and Palestinians yearn

 

 

my three teachers

21 Jul

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Abby, Christy and Sharon, you honored me by accompanying me to Jordan, Palestine and Israel. Having known you as teachers in our parish school, it delighted me for these fourteen days to travel, eat and pray with you in the Holy Land. It was like I was taking you home to meet my people, especially in my beloved Beit Jala, and to see the land in which I grew up, in Christ, that is. I wanted you to have an experience as life-giving as I have had. I wanted you to come to love the land and love the people as I much as I do. I knew that each of you would meet a partner teacher and be her house guest for two nights. I was confident that you would be in loving hands in her home and in her care. But a tiny part of my soul was a bit nervous about how things would be for you. I knew you had seen a photo of your partner-teachers, and had corresponded by email with them. But the father-worrier in me wanted to know for sure that you would feel comfortable, loved and safe.

0 Three teachers DSC_0648Myrna, Niveen and Sally, however much I would thank you would not be enough. As the teachers from St. Andrew came off the bus in your church yard, you embraced Abby, Christy and Sharon, as if they were your long-lost sisters who had finally come back home. After just a few moments, you whisked the teachers away. They were in your arms, in your hands, in your cars – and they were gone. Then I left for two days, wondering how things were going, and hoping that each of you would bond with the teacher that you took home and to school with you. When I returned to pick up Abby, Christy and Sharon to move on to Jerusalem. I got my answer. The smiles on the faces of all six of you were proof and evidence of the friendship and solidarity that was built up in less than 48 hours.

Myrna, Niveen and Sally, I cannot ever thank you enough for what you have given to Abby, Christy and Sharon. They are better teachers, better women and better Christians because of you! You are also “my three teachers” now, too. I owe a debt to you that I cannot repay. But God can repay you. I will remind God often of my debt to you, and will ask God to pay you back for what you have given to the teachers from my school – and to me. May God continue to bless you, your families, your students and your homeland. Keep hope. Stay holy. Remain happy. Be brave.

 

the prayer of the Lord

23 Apr

Father Elias Tabban, parish priest of Jaffa of Nazareth, Israel, visited with us in October 2013. Father prays the Our Father, the Lord’s Prayer, in Aramaic, the language in which Jesus prayed and taught his disciples to pray.

“Lord, teach us to pray.”

Lord's prayer in Aramaic

send your children to school with these conditions?

2 May

Cremisan Salesian Sisters three sides

nuns and children to be walled in on three sides of their school?

Cremisan wine label

nuns and monks separated by concrete wall and hindered from praying together?

“Israeli court OKs construction of barrier through Salesians’ property”

By Judith Sudilovsky
Catholic News Service

May 1, 2013

JERUSALEM (CNS) — An Israeli court has approved the construction of the Israeli separation barrier along a route that will nearly surround a convent and its primary school and confiscate most of their land on the outskirts of Beit Jala, West Bank.

After more than six years of legal proceedings, the decision was handed down by the Israeli Special Appeals Committee for Land Seizure under emergency law in late April.

“This solution is still unacceptable for us because the school will be encircled on three sides by the wall,” said Anica Heinlein, advocacy officer at the Society of St. Yves, which has been representing the Salesian Sisters of Cremisan, who operate the school and an after-school program for 400 children. “The street leading to the school will go along the wall and will have a heavy military presence. Whenever the gate is open or there is some security concern, there will also be a military presence. Also you wouldn’t want to send your children to school with those conditions.”

The Israeli separation barrier is a series of cement slabs, barbed-wire fences and security roads that would effectively separate Beit Jalla from two Israeli settlements, creating a strip of land that could be used for expansion and the eventual joining of the settlements.

The plan, which leaves the convent and school on the Palestinian side of the wall, will also cut off the Salesian sisters’ convent from the neighboring Salesian male community, which will be on the Israeli side of the wall. Though a gate is to be placed in the wall to ease movement between the two communities, Heinlein said that this is a violation of religious freedom.

The Salesian men “come on a daily basis to the nuns to celebrate the holy Mass; this is not freedom of religion,” she said.

The wall will also put limitations on two religious processions traditionally celebrated every year by the residents of the neighboring village of Beit Jala, she added.

The gate is designed to also allow farmers and landowners access to their lands on opposite sides of the wall, though they will need permits to reach them.

Heinlein said the Society of St. Yves is considering taking the case to the Israeli High Court.
 

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change the route of the wall

30 Apr

JERUSALEM – The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land issued a press release following the verdict last week favoring the construction of the wall of separation in the Cremisan Valley. The appeal called for a change in the course of the wall according to the route of the ‘green line’.

Holy Land Bishops Ordinaries

Communiqué:

A few days ago, an Israeli court in Tel Aviv issued its verdict on the Cremisan Valley issue, endorsing the previously decided path of the wall separating the convent of the Salesian Sisters who run a thriving school and at the same time includes the lands of 58 Palestinian families from Beit Jala to the area of the Israeli settlement of Gilo.

We are frustrated by this unjust decision that invokes the need for security of Israel but also the difficulty of changing the route of the already built portion of the wall, which makes us a fait accompli. Note that fait accompli cannot become the source of a new law. 

This is why we join all those who work for peace and justice. We ask to change the route of the wall along the “Green Line”. We hope that this will take place in the Supreme Court.

We remind Israeli decision-makers that the expropriation of lands does not serve the cause of peace and does not strengthen the position of the moderates.

With our prayers for peace in the Holy Land, on the basis of mutual respect and international legitimacy,

His Beatitude Fouad Twal
Latin Patriarch of Jérusalem
Président of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land

hoping Francis will help

28 Apr

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Last Wednesday, April 24, the people of Beit Jala (Bethlehem) – and the few people in the rest of the world who are paying attention – heard the decision of an Israeli Appeal’s Committee that “the Wall” can be built right through another section of Palestinian land: their Cremisan Valley.

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Today, April 28, is Palm Sunday in Beit Jala. They begin Holy Week, and will celebrate Easter with the Orthodox Christians on May 5. 

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This coming week Pope Francis will meet with Israeli President Shimon Peres, who was invited by the Holy Father for a visit to the Vatican, among the first of the world leaders who will meet with the new Pope.

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This all comes together in these photos, taken today in Beit Jala. The people of Annunciation Catholic parish gathered today, on Palm Sunday, outside their church after Sunday Mass to sign letters to Pope Francis, pleading with him to keep Cremisan high on his agenda when he meets with the Israeli president.

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You might find this April 24 article  in the Washington Post, “Palestinian Christians hope new pope will help in battle against Israel’s barrier route,” helpful for understanding the present state of the situation.