Letter from the World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit to WCC member churches in Palestine and Israel concerning the renewed wave of violence in Jerusalem. 19 October 2015
Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ – our Lord and Saviour, the Prince of Peace, the child of Bethlehem.
I write to you at a time of renewed violence between the peoples in the land of Christ’s birth, to commend the witness of our Christian sisters and brothers in Palestine and Israel, and to express the concern and solidarity of the global ecumenical fellowship represented in the World Council of Churches. We are following with increasing dismay events throughout the region and especially in the Holy City of Jerusalem, which we hold in our hearts and prayers as an open city of two peoples (Israelis and Palestinians) and three faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). We continue to work and pray for a just peace for both Palestinians and Israelis, promoting respect for the status quo of the holy sites of Jerusalem as an important contribution to reducing current tensions.
Dear leaders of the world and people of good conscience,
Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land
I write to you from Jerusalem to address the very serious refugee situation affecting countries across the Middle East and now Europe. I myself am a refugee, as well as a bishop. Both my faith and my history oblige me to speak up for these women, men, and children who are washing up on beaches, are found decomposing in trucks on the highway, are crossing borders of barbed wire, and are barely surviving in makeshift camps.
The last weeks have seen not only an increase in the numbers of these refugees, but also an increase in tragic outcomes for many. This is a shameful situation, and one which the international community cannot ignore. It must be remembered that refugees are not vacationers. They did not leave their homes because they were looking for adventure. They are displaced as a result of poverty, violence, terror, and political conflict. Frustration and fear lead them to risk their lives and their life-savings in search of safe havens where they can live and raise families in peace. We must remember that these are not “waves” or “masses” or “hordes”—these are human beings who deserve dignity and respect.
The Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) of the World Council of Churches invites member churches, faith-based communities, and civil society organizations around the world to join together in 2015 for a week of advocacy and action in support of an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine and a just peace for all in Palestine and Israel. Congregations and individuals around the globe who share the hope of justice shall unite during the week to take peaceful actions, together, to create a common international public witness.
The theme of the week in 2015, to be observed during 20-26 September, is:
“God has broken down the dividing walls”(Ephesians 2:14)
06-12-14, Jericho,Zbeidat, I. Tanner. Childrens paitings of the separation wall, on playground walls. Photo EAPPI / I.Tanner
How to get involved
As participants in the World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel, from 20 to 26 September 2015, churches around the world shall send a clear signal to policy-makers, community groups, and their own parishes about the urgent need for a peace settlement that ends the illegal occupation and secures the legitimate rights and future of both peoples.
05.06.15 Bethlehem, Checkpoint 300. EAs joins locals and internationals to pray for an peace at the weekly Wall Prayer. Photo EAPPI/ H. Jonsson
Pray, Educate, Advocate
Already, planning has begun for the World Week for Peace 2015, during which participants will organize and join in events and activities around the following three principles:
1. Praying with churches living under occupation, using a special prayer from Jerusalem and other worship resources prepared for the week.
2. Educating about actions that make for peace, and about facts on the ground that do not create peace, especially issues related to prisoners.
3. Advocating with political leaders using ecumenical policies that promote peace with justice.
06.07.00 Qalandia checkpoint, Palestinian woman held in queue at checkpoint on her way to Jerusalem. Photo EAPPI / J. Griffin
This annual observance of a week of prayer, education, and advocacy calls participants to work for an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine, so that Palestinians and Israelis can finally live in peace. It has been 66 years since the creation of the State of Israel. This has not led to the creation of an independent Palestinian state but has only deepened the tragedy of the Palestinian people. It is now 47 years since the occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza overwhelmed the peaceful vision of one land, two peoples.
31.10.07, Bethlehem, Gilo 300 terminal, Palestinains on their way to work queue at checkpoint 300 Photo EAPPI
Yet the dream of one nation cannot be fulfilled at the expense of another.
23.11.13. Tulkaram, Children living on the hill of the Ras at Tira village with settlement Alfe Menashe in the background. Photo EAPPI /Elina
The action week’s message is that now:
It’s time for Palestinians and Israelis to share a just peace.
It’s time for freedom from occupation.
It’s time for equal rights.
It’s time for the healing of wounded souls.
Wonderful worship and educational resources are available in different languages – please make them part of your church events. In social media, please use the hashtag #WallWillFall to talk about this year’s World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel.
*Source: World Council of Churches website
World Council of Churches: World Week for Peace 2015: resources
On August 17 Israeli soldiers and security personnel supervised the the bulldozing of land and the uprooting of over 100 ancient olive trees in the Bir Ouma. Many of the trees that were uprooted were as old as 1500 years old. The land is being cleared to facilitate the routing of the separation wall through the Cremisan Valley. The planned route for the wall is three kilometers inside the 1949 Armistice ‘green line’ and is set to be built on privately owned Palestinian land in Beit Jala.The clearing of the land is taking place despite a previous court ruling and without any warning being given to the local landowners. Local Christians have been gathering daily at the site of the bulldozing to protest the illegal confiscation of their land and to pray for the protection of the Cremisan Valley.
Statement of Bishop Munib A. Younan, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land concerning the arson in Tabgha.
Tiberias, July 14, 2015
Bishop Munib A. Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land
We have come from Jerusalem to stand in solidarity with the brother monks of this monastery after the arson and burning of this historic Church. The atrocity is not only against you and this particular church vicinity, but against every Christian and believer in the One True God, and must be denounced vehemently. This Church was built on the real story of the blessing of the loaves and fish, and despite the atrocity against it, it will survive the hatred and will remain a spiritual haven and blessing to all who enter its doors.
The Israeli Supreme Court Gives the Green Light to Begin Building the Separation Wall in the Cremisan Valley.
The Israeli Supreme Court issued a decision on Monday, the 6th of July 2015, giving the Israeli Ministry of Defense the green light to begin building the separation wall in the Cremisan Valley in Beit Jala. This ruling limits the effect of the Court’s previous decision to stop building the separation wall in Cremisan, whereby the decision to stop building the wall will only be limited to the surroundings of the Salesian Sister’s Convents, represented by the Society of St. Yves, and the Salesian Monk’s Monastery, represented by Adv. Nihad Irsheid as well as the church’s private land. The decision ruled that the Israeli authorities will initiate building the wall on the privately ownedlands of the people of Beit Jala; thereby leaving-out only a small section, hundreds of meters in length and adjacent to the Salesian monasteries and their land.