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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The year of painful memories

We, a group of Christian Palestinians, after prayer, reflection and an exchange of opinion, cry out from within the suffering in our country, under the Israeli occupation, with a cry of hope in the absence of all hope, a cry full of prayer and faith in a God ever vigilant, in God’s divine providence for all the inhabitants of this land (A Moment of Truth, introduction). “They say: 'Peace, peace' when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14). These days, everyone is speaking about peace in the Middle East and the peace process. So far, however, these are simply words; the reality is one of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, deprivation of our freedom, and all that results from this situation.” (1-1).

Eight years ago, our message started with these words in Bethlehem on December 9th, 2009. Today we start our message with the same words that we address to Palestinians, both Christians and Muslims, to the Israelis, and to the whole world. At that time we faced a closed door; today the door of peace is still closed.

This year, 2017, is a year of painful memories: one hundred years

since the Balfour Declaration of 1917, seventy years since the Nakba (catastrophe) of 1948, and today, the 5th of June, fifty years since the beginning of the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territory in 1967, a situation in which we still live.

The situation is deteriorating. Despite this, we communicate a message of constant hope.

The situation is difficult. The Israeli authorities are becoming increasingly intransigent, while the Palestinian Authority is becoming more and more frustrated in an impasse without an exit. The situation is worsening due to internal divisions between one people who experience the same suffering, and a gulf has been created between the people and the Authority.

1-    To ourselves, we as Palestinians say: We experience the same suffering and confront the same situation. Therefore, division in our ranks can be eradicated by all sensible people, and there are sensible people among us. We all die so let us face death united in life, not divided or face death with death. Nothing is impossible for God, nor is anything impossible for a believer in God, and we are all believers of God. Those who truly believe in God believe in themselves and in the righteousness, love, and humanity granted to them by God.

The tragedy of the Jew, Christian and Muslim in the Arab world, Palestine and Israel, is the tragedy of man destroying his humanity and justifying it with one excuse after another. All are victims; the oppressor is the victim of himself, and the oppressed are the victim of the oppressor. Nevertheless, voices of goodness, righteousness, and humanity can still be heard and aim to overcome the utter evil we are [immersed] in. These are the source of hope.

We believe in the merciful, righteous and all-powerful God. The righteousness of God will overcome the evil we face, whether this evil is the military occupation imposed on Palestinians or the extremely turbulent situation in the Arab world. The righteousness of God will overcome the evil of man. We are living through a difficult labor that will give birth to a new man who can enjoy the freedom to establish sound human relations with all nations of Earth.

2-    To the extreme right-wing Israelis who reject peace, we say: This is not the right way of life for you, nor for us of course. The proper way of life is to go beyond yourselves and observe the reality that you and the Palestinians are human beings, that injustice is taking place and the key to stopping it is in your hands, and that the Palestinians are the guarantee of your peace and survival.

Peace is in the hands of those who rule, but the real peace is nurtured in the hearts of the people, in your hearts and the hearts of the Palestinians.  Peace with Palestinians is the only door to your peace with all Arabs and Muslims. Your arms kill and win wars, but do not make peace. God the Almighty is above all the power of man. And in God is your peace and our peace, here and in the region as a whole.

3-    To Christians we say what Jesus Christ stated: “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). He has overcome the evil, the evil of man against his brother man. The blood of martyrs will yield a new life that enriches Egypt and the Church of Egypt, and enriches the life of all Christians and Muslims together in the whole region. Therefore we say be resolute in your faith, believe in God and in life, and present your current affliction as a satisfactory sacrifice for God and on behalf of all the people. Pray for all, and make your heart as wide as the heart of God. Resist evil and injustice. God is merciful, just, and loves man. His love will be manifested in the hour God chooses…He is the only one who knows that hour. However, the existing evil will be overcome for sure.

4-    To the Muslims we say: Your survival and ours is one, our concerns are one, and the situation requires that we all speak frankly to identify and comprehend together what is happening to us, including the killing the Copts, ISIS brutality in Iraq and Syria, and the difficulties of our daily life. Each of us should be steady in his faith and in our common principles. Together we have the courage to discern and to amend if need be. Together we should exert joint efforts so that we provide a full life for all.

5-    To the international community we say: Be a strong “family of states” that observes what is right and dares to affirm it and correct the wrong. Our word to the international community is to stop the principle of "double standards" and insist on the international resolutions regarding the Palestinian problem with regard to all parties.(Moment of Truth -7”.

To the churches we say: Continue with your prayers and mission for the sake of justice and peace, and uttering words of truth and reconciliation. Your voice should not be weakened or silenced. The churches should not tire of fulfilling their mission in this land which is holy for us and for all peoples. St Paul said entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were urging you through us, (2 Corinthians 5:17-20). In this holy land we all need to find the way, the right and life. Oh churches of the world, help this land find peace, justice and reconciliation.

6-    A new life for all of us in this land is conditional on the Israeli authorities changing their vision from one of death for Palestinians to a vision of life, from plans of total destruction to plans for living, to plans in which man works to complement the work of the Creator, and ensures life, freedom and dignity for all nations.

In the absence of all hope, we cry out our cry of hope. We believe in God, good and just. We believe that God’s goodness will finally triumph over the evil of hate and of death that still persist in our land. We will see here "a new land" and "a new human being", capable of rising up in the spirit to love each one of his or her brothers and sisters” (Moment of Truth-10).

Bethlehem

 

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