Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Diocese: Holy Land News

Diocese: Holy Land News

JERUSALEM – On Wednesday, November 19, Religious Leaders of Jerusalem: Christians, Muslims, Druze, visited the synagogue, which was the target of a vicious attack the day before. Four Jews and an Israeli police officer were killed. The visit to the Jewish community was a sign of solidarity and an appeal to the people of the Holy Land and the world to promote peace and freedom of religion.

“Your gesture is most welcome. If someone ever criticizes you, pretend not to hear him because your gesture is welcome”. These were the words that welcomed the religious leaders of Jerusalem at the Office of Religious Affairs of the Ministry of Interior, and later all together visited the synagogue in the Har Nof neighborhood in West Jerusalem. This place of worship was attacked on November 18, four Jews, a police officer and two Palestinians were killed.

We come as religious leaders to a place of prayer, therefore to a holy place, stated His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. These people were killed while praying. Any place of worship belonging to any religion should be protected and sanctified.

In the midst of a crowd of journalists and residents of the neighborhood gathered in the synagogue’s courtyard, the religious leaders spoke one after the other, expressed their condolences to the community, and condemned the acts of violence directed at either Israelis or Palestinians. Furthermore, they condemned violence and terrorism committed in the name of religion against another religion.

They renewed a fervent plea for freedom of expression and religion for all people of the Holy Land and around the world.

Message and appeal

Christians and Jews are now preparing for their holidays of Christmas and Hanukkah. In a time of a worsening situation in Jerusalem, each day carries its share of fear, anxiety and disturbing events, the religious leaders expressed anew their desire to find and achieve peace. The meeting of Christians,
Muslims, Druze and Jews in the heart of an ultra-orthodox neighborhood is also a sign for the world and the media, that when an attack is perpetrated, it is not only the target community that suffers, but all those who struggle for peace and for justice.

Jerusalem religious leaders

JERUSALEM – In a meeting this Friday, November 21 with Joachim Herrmann, the Ministry of Interior of Bavaria, who is also a Knight of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher, Patriarch Fouad Twal spoke about the current tensions in Jerusalem and reiterated the importance of education to build a new society and bring about a culture of peace. It was a warm exchange in which the Patriarch expressed these concerns in light of current events.

“In recent weeks, the situation has taken increasingly worrisome proportions. We are part of this country and we suffer with it. What we want is that the last word is not left to the extremists.”

“The unrest began to intensify the violence when Israel allowed religious Jews to visit the Temple Mount. The Jews then touched the most sensitive place for Muslims. One of the most sacred places, which is the key to peace or chaos on earth. Religious coexistence in Jerusalem will be the ground for more peace or more violence in the Middle East and the world. The challenge is immense.

The Patriarch welcomed the news of a forthcoming ban on religious Jews visiting the Temple Mount, a measure that will “ease tensions.” Bishop Shomali recalled in this regard the meeting of November 12 between Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and King Abdullah of Jordan, a meeting during which
Netanyahu pledged to respect the rights of Muslims to pray, and to observe the status quo that places the holy place under Jordanian protection. Since that meeting, no age limit was imposed for the Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa.

Patriarch Fouad also condemned the Israeli Prime Minister’s decision to arm the concern Israeli citizens living in Jerusalem. “This decision encourages neither mutual trust nor peaceful coexistence nor cooperation between the two peoples. Entrust security to the police and not to every citizen. If our Land is Holy, then do works of justice that restore confidence by respecting the dignity of all. We want peace for all, peace will never come to one people, which is surrounded by the walls that have been built. Physical walls are the visible sign of the walls of hatred, fear and mistrust that inhabit the hearts of men.”

Patriarch Fouad Twal: “Education is the most powerful weapon”

Once again Patriarch Twal urged everyone “not to be afraid, to pray for peace. Praying for the same goal can be an opportunity to get closer to each other. The Patriarch further said that this meeting proves that “hope is not dead, there is always hope to stop the violence.”

Keeping in mind stability in the Middle East, the Patriarch criticized the call by certain members of the Israeli government for a “harsh response,” a massive and extensive “arming” of the population. That is not a solution. Political leaders should be smart and wise enough to lead all people toward peace,
while restraining the escalation of fundamentalism.

If the meeting of these religious leaders is an evidence of dialogue, it is being carried out in a difficult and unfortunate situation. In other words, the recurrence of these events under present circumstances is not good news. But there is always hope that one day, they will warmly greet each other on behalf of their respective followers. It will be a sign of peace for all mankind, in a Land that is indeed Holy.

Pierre Loup de Raucourtis Beatitude also condemned the collective punishment inflicted by Israel, including the destruction of the homes of the attackers’
families. “Such practices only sow more hatred and violence.”

During the meeting, issues relating to free access to the Holy Places were raise, and also the reunification of families separated by the separation wall, and, above all, the “Law on Citizenship and Entry into Israel” (2003), that does not allow the spouse who is not a native of Jerusalem to come live with his/her family in the holy city.

“Inhumane Acts” said His Beatitude.

Secondly, the Patriarch spoke about his visit to Gaza, in early November, after the war ended. In an almost apocalyptic landscape where donkeys are now used as taxis and transport, he was struck by the thousands of children roaming the streets. “70% of schools were destroyed; daily school classes are held in rotation, three times a day, in the only schools that remain standing.”

And the Patriarch said, “We believe in the power of education. This is our most powerful weapon. We have three schools in Gaza that welcome all Christian children, who represent about 10% of the students, and the other 90% are Muslims. At school, children learn together, play together, and eat together. This is the most favorable place for coexistence and dialogue for the formation of a new culture of peace.” He invited the Minister and his delegation to continue to work for the establishment of peace through education, particularly the needs of the American University of Madaba where scholarships offered by Germany would be great support for students.

The Patriarch and his Vicar finally gratefully thanked the German Church and in a special way the fraternal closeness of Cardinal Reinhard Marx, as well as solidarity and friendship of the German Lieutenancy.

Myriam Ambroselli

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