“Let us work together to replace despair with HOPE, fear with human SECURITY and humiliation with DIGNITY”

Reflections of a Christian Palestinian on President Yasser Arafat

I send you many greetings from our small village of Taybeh, located in the middle of Biblical Judea, where we as Christian people are still trying to survive and exist, and in nonviolent ways to resist the agenda of the Israeli Occupation to create a fully Jewish homeland in historic Palestine, by choking us up with hundreds of illegal Israeli settlements. In the last five years nothing has changed in our lives; we remain literally prisoners in an open area. The unemployment rate is still over 50%, because if organizations do not bring projects into our area there is simply no work for the local people. The Latin Church is very active in creating jobs. I see the Orthodox Christian presence constantly diminishing.

Dearly Beloved in Christ our Savior,
 
I send you many greetings from our small village of Taybeh, located in the middle of Biblical Judea, where we as Christian people are still trying to survive and exist, and in nonviolent ways to resist the agenda of the Israeli Occupation to create a fully Jewish homeland in historic Palestine, by choking us up with hundreds of illegal Israeli settlements. 
 
In the last five years nothing has changed in our lives; we remain literally prisoners in an open area.  The unemployment rate is still over 50%, because if organizations do not bring projects into our area there is simply no work for the local people. The Latin Church is very active in creating jobs.  I see the Orthodox Christian presence constantly diminishing. 
 
We are waiting moment by moment to see the news of the Palestinian president Yasser Arafat and what that means for all of us on the ground.  As much as Mr. Arafat might be corrupt or a questionable leader, I cannot help but personally respect him for the many years of steadfast resistance and efforts to bring liberty to the Palestinian people.  For me he is the lesser of all evil that exists in Palestine.  I can only pray for a moderate democratic government when he is gone.  He fought when he had to fight, he negotiated when he had to make peace and he stayed steadfast in the struggle when he was captured.  People here love him and he was the legitimately elected Palestinian president who was a symbol of the Palestinian struggle.  He is literally a local icon.  I feel sad that he will not die in his beloved homeland.   
 
As a Christian person, I always felt safe and great comfort in knowing and seeing that Arafat’s closest advisors were also Christian and well trusted by him.  Mr. Nabil Abuderneih who often is the spokesman for Arafat has been on his side at most critical times during the last four years along with Mr. Ramzi Khoury, both are Christian.
 
Before the Israelis confined Arafat to his Ramallah compound, he always came to the Orthodox Christmas celebration in Bethlehem as well as the Western Christmas celebration.  This attendance alone gave me great hope that as the mother of Palestinian Christian children, they would have a future living as Christians in the Holy Land.  Since our Christian community is small, we are very concerned about maintaining our witness for Christ in such a precious and sacred land made holy by Christ himself. 
 
Although Arafat’s wife is very young and such a marriage between a Muslim and a Christian is strictly forbidden in the culture and accepted only among royalty, this fact also that Ms. Suha Taweel Arafat was born an Orthodox Christian gave us great hope that Arafat’s government and policies were inclusive of Christians and Muslims in creating a free Palestine.  We felt we had a place with Arafat…  
 
The Heads of all Christian Churches in Jerusalem met at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and made a public statement yesterday upholding President Arafat in their prayers together with the Palestinian leadership and Palestinian people.  They expressed the hope that a fence of unity and common purpose be maintained at this critical time by all the Palestinians (Christians and Muslims) and that the peace process continues.  Please keep us in your prayers too for we have so many days of unknowing ahead.  May our Lord have mercy in the land of His Holy Resurrection! 

 

2016-10-24T07:31:25+00:00 November 12th, 2004|Categories: News|