Tag Archives: Separation Wall

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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more might be taken away

2 May

This photo is a glimpse of the situation in which our friends in Beit Jala at Annunciation Catholic Church live out their daily lives.

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There is a Mass every Friday afternoon in the olive grove of Cremisan Valley to ask God to intercede on behalf on the people of Beit Jala. Note the chalice. That is a gift from us to them. They use it weekly, as they pray.

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Father Ibrahim, the pastor of the Catholic parish in Beit Jala, prays at Holy Mass, with the Israeli settlement of Gilo across the valley, built on land once owned by the people of Beit Jala.

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If a new section of the Israeli concrete wall is built through the valley, as proposed by the State of Israel and resisted by the Palestinian Christians, that settlement will spread done the hill, through the valley, and be joined with another settlement on the opposite side of the valley. Thus more land, more access, more livelihood, more recreational enjoyment, more freedom of movement and more freedom of the practice of religion will be taken away from the people of Beit Jala. 

See: “Palestinians’ prayerful protest awaits verdict.”

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.

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

8:30 am Milford – and – 3:30 pm Beit Jala

8 Feb

Mass has been celebrated in Cremisan valley every Friday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in a prayer-protest of a proposed new section of what is called a separation wall by the Palestinians and a security fence by the Israelis. Whether it is for separation or security, it is definitely a wall, and not a fence, in this section of the structure that divides Beit Jala and Jerusalem.

Earlier in January Father Ibrahim Shomali, the pastor of Annunciation Catholic Church in Beit Jala, celebrated the Mass in the cold and snow, after an unusual snowfall a couple days before.fr_ibraheem 2

We see on the altar a blue-green pottery chalice. Father Shomali has used this chalice for the weekly Mass ever since June.

We brought it from Cincinnati as a gift to him and the parish. So, after we used it when we celebrated Mass in that olive grove in Cremisan valley on the edge of the town of Beit Jala in the Bethlehem-area, we left it behind, so that they might remember us in prayer as we remember them in prayer. ibrahin snow bend over 7

Today – Friday, February 8 – will be the last day that Father Shomali will celebrate Mass in that olive grove before the final decision of the Israeli government.  A final decision of the Israeli Court will be handed down on February 12. Will Israel take control of the Cremisan valley? Or will the Cremisan valley remain in the hands of the Palestinians?

PRAY. At 8:30 a.m.(Milford time) pray in solidarity with Father Ibrahim and the people of Beit Jala as they celebrate Mass at 3:30 p.m. (Beit Jala time).

ACT. As urged by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, sign the petition that will be taken to Israeli authorities in protest of the proposed building of this section of the wall.