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

A Statement From The Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem

Salaam and Grace in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and Blessed Lenten greetings from Jerusalem. By Rt. Rev. Riah Abu El-Assal Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, We, in the Diocese of Jerusalem, extend our heartfelt appreciation and gratitude for your prayers, solidarity, and support during these difficult times in our Land. Our people continue to suffer and still expect a more effective role from the Church in the world, as well as from the Church in the Land. The Palestinians continue, with all the difficulties, to commit themselves to peace; but this cannot be a battle fought on our own. We need the collaboration of our partners and friends from all around the world to help us find the road to peace and freedom, for all who live in the Land of the Holy One. I was invited to and attended the Summit of the Arab League in Amman. The discussions and resolutions were very clear and positive. The basis for stability and security in the area, for all concerned, lies in the full implementation of the United Nations Resolutions regarding the plight of the Palestinian people, 242,338, and 194. Israel must comply with the international Resolutions; the way Iraq was pressured. As we returned from the Summit, I was greatly disappointed at the deterioration of the situation here in our Land. Added to our frustration, came the American veto of the United Nations Observer Forces, and their active plans to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This is an act that shows complete disregard of the unilateral actions of Israel, in annexing large segments of the Eastern part of Jerusalem. In light of all this and the ongoing conflict and suffering of the people of Palestine, I find myself turning to all Churches, and peace-loving people, to listen to the voice of the powerless, the true bearers of the cost of the conflict in the past as well as in the present, here in the land of the Holy One. As the Church proclaims Jesus, the victim of the powerful, who is Lord of all, it is called to be the voice of the voiceless, to speak for a purpose and a future for humanity beyond political self-interests. Even God-in-flesh, lived amongst us in our land and made the crying-out of those victims his own. The Church is called upon to speak out against injustices. If we do not make their silence heard, the stones of the Land would cry out. Conflicts are not solved by simple goodness, nor by the ‘if only’ method. How unprophetic can the Church become? Peace is only relevant when the conflicts are carefully and accurately analyzed. Without such analysis, and the work that is demanded as a result, our words about peace tend to become pious wishes, but ineffective, and our Church prayers for peace become stereotyped and conventionalized. The situation we are faced with is comparable to South Africa before the collapse of Apartheid, if not more difficult. Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the majority of the Palestinians found themselves either refugees or second-class citizens in their own country. Therefore, they have always found themselves in a position of resisting the occupation. In 1967, Israel occupied what was left of Palestine (Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem) and since then continues to occupy these territories thereby inflicting the greatest amount of suffering on the Palestinian population. Military administrative detentions without charges, home demolitions, uprooting trees, land confiscation, and the expansion of settlements in a provocative and flagrant violation of the sovereignty of Palestinian lands, closures, denials of access to medical facilities and limitations on movements of goods and labor are normal daily occurrences in Gaza and the West Bank today. Peace without justice is not possible, and Israel’s security is an outcome of, not a precondition to peace. The best of secured borders are reconciled neighbors. The Palestinians are the closest of neighbors. Know that this comes with my prayers that the peace, joy and power of the Resurrection remains with you always. In Christ +Rt. Rev. Riah Abu El-Assal

2016-10-24T07:35:56+00:00 April 10th, 2001|Categories: News|