Friday, April 6, 2012

A dark Easter for Palestinian Christians


By Richard Stearns| Religion News Service, Published: April 4 ((Richard Stearns is the U.S. president of World Vision, a global Christian humanitarian agency.)

Each year during Holy week, Christians around the world anticipate what come call the “Old Faithful” of miracles.

At the Church of the Holy Sepulchre — built over the traditional site that encompasses Jesus’ tomb and the place of his crucifixion — the archbishop enters the tomb after being inspected by Jewish authorities to ensure he has no means of lighting a fire. After saying prayers and worshiping the risen Christ, the candles miraculously alight.

The ceremony has been performed for centuries; records of the event reach back to the ninth century. Across more than a millennium of Muslim, European, or Jewish rule, the purported miracle has been an inspiration to thousands of pilgrims who flock to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to spread the fire into the rest of Jerusalem.

Once it is brought out of the tomb, the light is spread from person to person, candle by candle, and out into the world. It is a beautiful sight as worshipers from different Christian traditions line the darkened streets holding candles and spreading the light of Jesus Christ. The ceremony reflects the peaceful spread of Jesus’ message from one person to another. Called “Holy Fire Saturday,” this event also prefigures the Easter celebration the following day in which Christians celebrate Jesus’ triumph over death itself.

While Christians mark Christmas as the “silent night” in which God himself took on human flesh, on Easter we proclaim, “Christ the Lord is risen today,” in the words of the old hymn. It’s a miracle not of light, but of life defeating death.

But for the past several years in Jerusalem, the mood on Holy Saturday and the rest of Holy Week has not been one of rejoicing and triumph but instead one of trial and tribulation.

Because of travel restrictions in past years, the vast majority of Christians living in the West Bank have been stopped at checkpoints and prevented from attending one of the most important religious services of the year....READ MORE

My letter to the Guardian RE Israel evicts settlers from Hebron house

RE:  Israel evicts settlers from Hebron house

Dear Sir,

Seeing the headline "Israel evicts settlers from Hebron"  I can not help but wonder why Israel can evict some "settlers", but at the same time Israel actually subsidizes, protects and actively empowers many other "settlers". 

I also have to wonder if  "settlers" really is a fair word to use to describe all the many Jewish bigots who help Israel usurp Palestinian land, blithely sabotaging peace and all reasonable efforts to create a two state solution to end the Israel-Palestine conflict....  FYI David Wilder, that spokesman for the Hebron settlers is an American who has embraced being Israeli. He has full rights and freedoms in two sovereign powerful nations- while the vast majority of Palestinians have no real rights or freedom anywhere. 

There is nothing normal or moral or nice about Israel's ongoing quest to impoverish and displace the native non-Jewish population of the Holy Land: There is however a heck of a lot of Zionist spin, crafted to distract people away from noticing Israeli violations of international law and the Palestinians basic human rights.

Anne Selden Annab

Refugees, Borders & Jerusalem...

What Must Be Said...

the poem

by Günter Grass

What must be said
Why have I kept silent, held back so long,
on something openly practiced in
war games, at the end of which those of us
who survive will at best be footnotes?
It's the alleged right to a first strike
that could destroy an Iranian people
subjugated by a loudmouth
and gathered in organized rallies,
because an atom bomb may be being
developed within his arc of power.
Yet why do I hesitate to name
that other land in which
for years—although kept secret—
a growing nuclear power has existed
beyond supervision or verification,
subject to no inspection of any kind?
This general silence on the facts,
before which my own silence has bowed,
seems to me a troubling lie, and compels
me toward a likely punishment
the moment it's flouted:
the verdict "Anti-semitism" falls easily.
But now that my own country,
brought in time after time
for questioning about its own crimes,
profound and beyond compare,
is said to be the departure point,
(on what is merely business,
though easily declared an act of reparation)
for yet another submarine equipped
to transport nuclear warheads
to Israel,  where not a single atom bomb
has yet been proved to exist, with fear alone
the only evidence, I'll say what must be said.
But why have I kept silent till now?
Because I thought my own origins,
Tarnished by a stain that can never be removed,
meant I could not expect Israel, a land
to which I am, and always will be, attached,
to accept this open declaration of the truth.
Why only now, grown old,
and with what ink remains, do I say:
Israel's atomic power endangers
an already fragile world peace?
Because what must be said
may be too late tomorrow;
and because—burdend enough as Germans—
we may be providing material for a crime
that is foreseeable, so that our complicity
wil not be expunged by any
of the usual excuses.
And granted: I've broken my silence
because I'm sick of the West's hypocrisy;
and I hope too that many may be freed
from their silence, may demand
that those responsible for the open danger
we face renounce the use of force,
may insist that the governments of
both Iran and Israel allow an international authority
free and open inspection of
the nuclear potential and capability of both.
No other course offers help
to Israelis and Palestinians alike,
to all those living side by side in emnity
in this region occupied by illusions,
and ultimately, to all of us.

--Günter Grass
Translated by Breon Mitchell

Germany's most celebrated writer's lyrical warning of a looming Israeli aggression against Iran triggers international row

letter- Where’s the outcry?!

RE "Where’s the outcry over Palestinian censorship?" 4-6-2012 Washington Post op-ed by David Keyes, executive director of the New York based organization "Advancing Human Rights"

Dear Editor,

Israel imprisons a Palestinian - and here in America a human rights activist gets an op-ed published in the Washington Post condemning Palestinian censorship?!  

Where is the outcry over Israeli censorship- and the many ways that the native non-Jewish Palestinians are bullied and punished  because they dare object to the institutionalized bigotry, flagrant injustice and demographic delusions of the "Jewish State".

Why no mention of Israel's ongoing violations of international law and the Palestinians basic human rights?! Why not even a glance at Israel's many raids on media outlets in the illegally occupied and annexed Palestinian territory... and why no mention of the fact that this week Israel's military has shut down the West Bank- literally. All checkpoints into and out of the prison some call Palestine are closed.  

Anne Selden Annab

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Cash shortage stops Gaza kids' summer camps

AFP News: GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories — The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees is cancelling its annual summer camps for children in the Gaza Strip, saying it has failed to raise enough money.

"It was decided to stop the Summer Games programme in the Gaza Strip for 2012 due to not having received sufficient funding from donors, that is $9.9 million (7.5 million euros)," said Adnan Abu Hasna, spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), in Gaza.

He told AFP that UNRWA had received pledges of $3.3 million, "but that's not enough to cover expenses. That's why we decided to allocate these funds to basic humanitarian services and resume the games in 2013 if we get the necessary financial support," he said.

UNRWA's "Summer Games" programme caters to around 250,000 children at 1,200 sites in the Gaza Strip during six weeks of summer holidays.

Last year and in 2010 campsites were vandalised by unknown attackers but activities still carried on.
The attacks were blamed on Muslim extremists who view the camps as a symbol of Western corruption because boys and girls mingle freely.

Abu Hasna said that the cancellation of this year's events was a blow to the children and to around 9,000 older Palestinian youths who would have had summer jobs helping to run the camps.
UNRWA cares for nearly five million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Syria Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, including more than one million in Hamas-ruled Gaza.

 UNRWA’s Summer Games is a series of recreational and educational activities organised for the children of Gaza during the summer break.

Arab Christians from Jordan risk all for Easter Sunday pilgrimage to Israel

William Shomali auxiliary bishop of the Latin Patriarch in Jerusalem: “Our dream is for all Arab Christians and Muslims to come and pray in the holy city,” he said, acknowledging the current situation has been “difficult” for Arab Christians across the region.

“They should come regardless of the political situation,” he said. “We should separate politics from religion, even if certain parties want to join them together; all have the right to pray in the holy sites.”

Worshippers in the Christian town of Fuheis in Jordan on Saturday. Many Christian Arabs from Jordan make the Easter Sunday pilgrimage to Israel and risk their reputation by committing such 'treason' to the Arab cause. Mohammad Abu Ghosh/AP

Hundreds of Arab Christians from Jordan are risking their careers and reputation to complete an Easter Sunday pilgrimage to holy sites in Israel.
By Taylor Luck, Contributor / April 4, 2010 
Jerusalem; and Amman, Jordan

Many of the Arab Christians flocking to holy sites in Israel this Easter Sunday come from neighboring Jordan.

But they do so at a price. 

Those who make the trek – and, as part of a broader rise in religious tourism, more are making it every year – risk their professional reputation and their family’s disapproval. 

For a country whose 1994 peace treaty with Israel was never accepted at the popular level, receiving an entry stamp, let alone a visa from Israel, is considered “treason” to the Arab cause.

But despite a growing movement to discredit those involved with the “Zionist enemy,” hundreds of Jordanians risk their careers and reputation to complete a pilgrimage to holy sites in Israel’s occupied territories.

“I cannot help it,” says Daoud Yazeed, a Jordanian Christian who disguises his pilgrimages as business trips. “Jerusalem is calling.”....READ MORE

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

LETTERS 4-4-2012

RE: Netanyahu says peace is needed to prevent Israel becoming a ‘binational state’

Dear Editor,

In 1948 United Nations Mediator Count Folke Bernadotte pointed out that "It would be an offence against the principles of justice if those innocent victims [of Zionist terror] could not return to their homes while [Zionist] immigrants flowed into Palestine to take their place."

United Nations Mediator Count Folke Bernadotte was later assassinated by Zionists. But that does not change the fact that United Nations Resolution 194 from 1948 makes it clear that Israel was- and is- expected to fully respect the Palestinian refugees very real right to return to their original homes and lands to live in peace.

UN Resolution 194 from 1948 : The refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible

The “demographic argument” inspires bigotry and injustice. It is a bad argument that has already led to some really cruel practices and polices.  A fully secular two state solution to once and for all end the Israel-Palestine conflict is the best way forward.  

Anne Selden Annab


RE: A Middle East Twofer By Thomas L. Friedman

Dear Editor,

Thomas Friedman says that "The Iron Law of the peace process is that whoever makes the Israeli silent majority feel morally insecure about occupation but strategically secure in Israel wins." If that were true Oslo would have ushered in peace years ago.

There is nothing moral about Israel's ongoing institutionalized bigotry and its refusal to respect the Palestinians' basic human rights including but not limited to the Palestinian refugees inalienable right to return to original homes and lands. There is nothing moral about Israel's Jews-preferred policies and investments in the settlement projects. There is nothing moral in Israel's ongoing campaigns to persecute, impoverish and displace the native non-Jewish population of the Holy Land. 

All through out both Israeli and Palestinian populations there are good, bad and indifferent people- human beings of all different types. Fair and just laws and a fully secular two state solution would go a long way towards ending the conflict and actually building a good role model as well as a just and lasting peace.

Anne Selden Annab

European Parliamentarians: Israel Should be Held Accountable for its Actions


BRUSSELS, April, 4, 2012 (WAFA) - A five-member European Parliament delegation on a visit to the occupied territories expressed shock at Israeli settlers’ violence against Palestinian civilians, a statement by the delegation said Wednesday.
“The delegation witnessed the impact of the Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and Area C in the West Bank and was shocked by evidence of the Israeli settler violence against peaceful inhabitants as reported by UN and international humanitarian organisations,” said the statement.
“The delegation condemns the Israeli policy of the special planning and zoning controls in the occupied Palestinian territories, which has led to the demolition of habitable houses and destruction of valuable infrastructure projects many of which have been funded through the European Union and its Member States taxpayers,” it added.
The primary purpose of the visit is to focus on the internal reconciliation, the situation in Area C, the Israeli settlements, water issue, political prisoners and the attacks on the media.
The delegation, led by Irish European Parliament member Emer Costello, met with the elected representatives of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and saw firsthand the conditions on the ground of the Palestinian people living in the territories.
The conclusion for the delegation is that the Oslo agreements with the division into Areas A, B and C, which was intended to be an interim arrangement, have turned out to be a burden for the Palestinians and are used by Israel as a legitimation for a de facto annexation.
Israel’s obligations as an occupying power are not being met and Israel is violating International Law by denying the Palestinian citizens their basic human rights (freedom of movement, access to water, evictions from their homes etc).
The delegation called on the EU High Representative (HR) and the Member States to demand Israel adhere to international law in the occupied territories and refrain from any upgrading in the relationship with Israel.
“Measures must to be taken to ensure that products made in the settlements do not receive any preferential treatment in the EU market,” said the statement. “Moreover, the HR and the Member States should seek appropriate compensation from the Israeli authorities for any European project or service provided for the Palestinian people which are destroyed by Israel.”
The Delegation is composed of the Chair Emer Costello (S&D, Ir), Vice-Chair Margrete Auken (Greens, Dk) and Members Nicolo Rinaldi (ALDE, It), Roza Thun (EPP, Pl) and Norbert Neuser (S&D, De).

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The foreign education of Chris Christie: Palestine is part of the Holy Land

by Aref Assaf

Published: Tuesday, April 03, 2012, 6:06 PM
Chris Christie arrived in Israel Monday for a visit billed as a “Jersey to Jerusalem: Economic Growth, Diplomacy, Observance” - accompanied by his family and a delegation of 14 business and Jewish leaders. Chris Christie, New Jersey’s Republican governor, is in Israel for four-day trip that mixes official and personal business. I had Tweeted to our governor on Saturday March 29, extending an invitation to visit my mother in the Palestinian refugee camp, Kalandia, which lies at the now-infamous checkpoint that separates Israel from the occupied West Bank: “@GovChristie, please visit my Palestinian mother in Kalandia camp to really learn the story of democratic Israel.”
I sent the invitation because I learned that the governor had no plans to visit the Palestinian territories or to meet with average or official Palestinians. For a governor who said he will “tread lightly” and that he wanted the visit to be an opportunity to inform him about the world, ignoring the elephant in the room, the Palestinians, seems at odds with his principled political outlooks. Moreover, it is a regrettable oversight not so easily brushed aside by the large Arab and Muslim residents of New Jersey.

The governor, I believe, has received the wrong advice about the obvious political insensitivity, even if unintentional, exhibited by his decision to forgo a visit to the Palestinian territory. In fact, most if not all foreign dignitaries, incumbent, or aspiring politicians have attempted not to appear to take sides in the volatile Israel-Palestine conflict by visiting both areas. After all, no one can honestly expect to become even familiar with the inexorably linked past and future of both the Jewish and the Palestinian people without seeing firsthand the outcome of de facto decisions that have changed both the demographic and topographic landscape of historic Palestine. As it happened, when the governor visited the Mount of Olives overlooking the golden Dome of the Rock, he was in fact standing in occupied Arab lands, which Israel conquered in 1967. 

That is why I invited the governor to visit my 87-year-old mother in her refugee camp. My mother has been living in this wretched place since she and my late father were forcibly expelled from their native village, Allar, which was destroyed in 1948...READ  MORE