Tag Archives: Israeli government

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.)

Cremisan: will they lose again?

13 Nov

If the separation wall gets built as planned by the Israeli government in the Cremisan Valley on the outskirts of Beit Jala (Bethlehem), it will be disastrous for the local people. Fifty-eight (58) Christian families from Beit Jala depend on the olive groves on that land for their livelihood. Special needs children and the nuns in their convent school will be virtually cut off from each other. On top of that , this is the only green space that is left in the area for the people of Beit Jala, and it is a crucial source of water for the farmers.

The Bishops of the Holy Land have condemned the planned route of the wall, “Cremisan green area is the main lung through which the population of Bethlehem can breathe. Besides, the 450 children attending the Salesian Sisters’ school will have to go to a prison-like school, surrounded by military barriers and check-points. The planned construction of the wall will put more pressure on the remaining Christians living in Bethlehem. Without an income and a future for their children, more people will make the decision to leave the Holy Land.” The Bishops of the Holy Land have taken the case to the Israeli courts. A decision will come down soon.

The Bishops of the United States, through Bishop Richard Pates’ letter to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, have joined their voices, speaking against the Israeli plan to re-route the separation barrier between Israel and Palestine through the Cremisan Valley, saying that the plan would “harm 58 Christian families whose livelihoods and living conditions depend on these lands” and “cut families off from agriculture and recreational lands, other family members, water sources, and schools – including depriving Christian Palestinian youth of fellowship with their peers. Moving the wall and disassociating Palestinian families from their lands and livelihoods will incite more resentment against the State of Israel among residents of the West Bank, not less, increasing the frustrations that can lead to violence.” 

My friends in Beit Jala, our Christian brothers and sisters in the Holy Land, fear that, once again, what little they have left will be taken away from them.

Tomorrow’s blog: Mass in Cremisan olive grove.