Kidnapping, murder, street riots, rocket attacks, aerial retaliations … Rapidly, the situation in Israel and Palestine has deteriorated. Politicians vacillate between launching a military offensive and hestitant calls for peace. For the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the urgent need is peace and the formation of youth, aho are often on the front line in the conflict.

What is the origin of the current conflict? It is difficult to say precisely. We agree on several factors: the threat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the endless conflict in Syria, and instability in Egypt.

 Recently we witnessed the end and the failure of peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine, in particular because of the refusal of Palestine to recognize Israel as a “Jewish state” and the continued construction of illegal Israeli settlements, which led to a new wave of pessimism and despair. 

The attempted reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas has not convinced the State of Israel which refuses to talk to Hamas, considered a terrorist organization.

The discovery of the three dead Israeli teenagers and the revenge that followed, leading to the horrific death of a young Palestinian, were sufficient to ignite a wick. And one does not know how big the powder keg is to which this wick is attached. “We do not know when and how it will end, says Father David Neuhaus, Patriarchal Vicar for the Hebrew-speaking Catholics to Vatican Radio. This recent expression is very sad because once again the victims are young adults and the responsible elders are not ready to shift their policy positions that deny the rights of others. “

Indifferent adults faced with young people ready to do anything?

Also on Vatican Radio, Archbishop Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem appeals to parents, governors and the Ministry of Education: “What kind of education are we giving to these young people? That is the question. From where does this education come? No one is happy. No one. Neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians.”

In fact, often it is young people between 15 and 30 years who are at the forefront of these conflicts, encouraged or brainwashed by their elders, or they are discouraged by the lives they lead, without work and without a clear future. “You meet youth who are also against all this violence, says Fr. David Neuhaus. There have been demonstrations against the violence that brought Arabs and Jews together. To tell you the truth, I do not blame the youth, but I blame our political leaders who are not able to develop a language that will prepare a different future without the cycle of violence. “

While offensives were launched by the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip in response to the numerous rockets fired towards Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the saddened Patriarch added: “As much as we were happy and optimistic with the visit of the Holy Father and the prayer for peace in the Vatican, so we are now in distress.” Once again we call upon the various parties to return to dialogue, and, also, remind that the role of the Church is to “neither adopt one side nor the other,“ but to call for the  peace of Jerusalem.

Father Neuhaus concludes by wishing “to take a stand with those values that are dear to the Church. It does not means looking at the Jewish or Palestinian part, the Israeli or  Arab side. We look at the people, Jews and Arabs, who want something different from our current reality. I think that the Church seeks to contribute to change and must be courageous, generous and creative,” concludes Fr. Neuhaus. The thing to do is look at who stands before us and call him “my brother” because we are all children of God.”


By: Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem

Photo Source: AP Photo/Hatem Moussa