Tag Archives: Security Barrier

stop the work on the wall

26 Aug

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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.)

crumble this wall

29 Jun

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O God, you sent your Son to break down the barriers between us, to bring reconciliation between peoples.  Make good on your intention and satisfy your desire that all divisions cease and all separations end.

When we build walls, teach us to want bridges. As we put up fences, move us to open gates.

Bring security and safety to your people on both sides of this wall. End the sadness and the frustration on both sides. End the hated and the violence from both sides. Give freedom of movement to all and bring an end to all humiliation.

In due time tear down this wall of mistrust and fear, this barrier to peace and justice.

O God, crumble this wall.Rob at Pope Wall

too political?

25 May

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With recent pilgrimage groups I have stopped the bus in Bethlehem to allow pilgrims “to be in touch with” the security barrier – separation wall. The last group wrote messages on the wall, along with laying their hands on the wall in prayer. Some might say that this is “too political” for people on a spiritual pilgrimage.

We remain in good company.

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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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a plan defied

17 Feb

A court in Israel has heard the final arguments on the construction of a separation wall in the Cremisan valley of Beit Jala (West Bank).

I found a link to this video, entitled “Israel plan to wall off West Bank land defied,” on the Facebook page of the Society of St. Yves Catholic Center for Human Rights, which is representing the landowners and the religious community of sisters of the Cremisan valley.

In the video at 1:12 and 1:33 you saw Father Ibrahim, the pastor of the Catholic parish of Beit Jala. Father Ibrahim will be my guest at my parish in Milford in September-October, insha’Allah (God willing/hopefully).

At 1:14 you saw the chalice that a group of pilgrim-teachers left with Father Ibrahim as a gift from us to his parish. We used  the chalice when we celebrated Mass in Cremisan valley. Father Ibrahim has used it every Friday since then, as he has celebated Mass in the same olive grove.

ended with no decision by the court

15 Feb

St. Yves Society bannerOn Tuesday, 12th of February 2013, the final hearing for the case of the Cremisan Valley against the Separation Wall was held in front of the Special Appeals Committee in the Magistrate Court in Tel Aviv.

Our friend, Father Ibrahim Shomali, the Parish Priest of Beit Jala, was in the crowded courtroom to observe the proceedings. The Catholic auxiliary bishop of Jerusalem was also present.

A summary of the testimony  of both sides is provided by the Society of St. Yves Catholic Center for Human Rights. Obviously, the summary is of a tone that favors the case as presented by the side opposing the building of the wall.

The session ended with no decision by the court. It will be issued after the committee reviews the documents of the case that has gone on for seven years.St. Yves Society hearing photo

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.