Circles of Silence – Nakba Memorial – May 15th 2021
With other Pax Christi International Sections, Pax Christi England and Wales is calling for Circles of Silence on or near Saturday 15th May.
May 15th is Nakba Day, when we remember the forced displacement of 750,000 Palestinians after the Israeli Declaration of Independence on 14th May 1948. These families became refugees and have never been allowed the right of return to their own homes. Many still live in refugee camps within the West Bank or in surrounding countries. That time is known as the ‘Nakba’ or ‘Catastrophe’.
Since 1967, and the Six Day War, Israel has maintained military control of what remained of Palestine, has colonised these Occupied Territories through Israeli settlements (declared illegal under international law), has taken more land, destroyed Palestinian homes and villages, has displaced Bedouin Communities and regularly uses excessive violence against the Palestinian population.
It is important that we recognise the injustices and violations of international law that took place in 1948, 1967 and in the on-going Nakba of today. We pray and work for justice for ALL in Palestine and Israel.
Pax Christi, England and Wales, invites you to be part of a global Circle of Silence in whatever way is possible for you by:
- lighting a candle and spending time in personal silence;
- joining with others in your family, Community, School or Parish to spend time in silence;
- holding a Circle of Silence (Silent Vigil) in your local community;
- holding an online vigil;
- taking a photo with you holding a peace message for Palestine – that we can put on social media.
Whatever you do: please let us know, send photos and, if you wish, messages that we will send to Palestine.
Call to Urgent Action for Palestine, May 2021
You will all have seen the shocking scenes from Jerusalem over the last few days. The violence in Jerusalem by heavily armed Israeli police, military and settlers, has escalated drastically in the last few days. Families in the Sheikh Jarrah district of occupied East Jerusalem have been the focus of excessive violence in which many have been traumatised when their homes were invaded and they were physically attacked and injured. About 500 people are under threat of forced eviction from their homes so that a group of Israeli settlers can take them over. Last week as the families sat down to break their fast at a communal meal in the street outside their homes, they were interrupted by armed Israeli settlers who rampaged throughout the area, upturning the tables, attacking women, men and children and invading their homes. Many were injured and seriously traumatised.
During Ramadan, many Palestinians Muslims have been prevented from getting to the Al Aqsa Mosque, their most sacred place of worship. On Friday and over the weekend, people at prayer in the Mosque were subjected to violent attacks by the Israeli Police and Military during which stun grenades, rubber coated steel bullets, tear gas and water cannon were used against them. Since then the violence has escalated and more worshippers have been attacked whilst at prayer and others on the courtyard area outside.
The Heads of Churches in Jerusalem have issued a statement calling on us all to take action: https://www.cbcew.org.uk/latin-patriarchate-reacts-to-recent-violence-in-jerusalem/ and say:
“We call upon the International Community, the Churches and all people of goodwill to intervene in order to put an end to these provocative actions, and to continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. We join in prayer with the intention of the Holy Father Pope Francis that “the multi-religious and multi-cultural identity of the Holy City might be respected and that fraternity might prevail.”
Pax Christi, England and Wales is responding to that call by asking our members and friends to join with us in the following urgent actions:
Please join in our Pax Christi International call to prayer in ‘Circles of Silence’ on or near Saturday 15th May, as Palestinians recall the Nakba (catastrophe). (Details to follow).
Light a candle each day/night and pray for peace with justice in Palestine and Israel;
Ask your parish/community to include prayers this weekend for the Peace of Jerusalem, and an end to the violence and forced evictions of Palestinian families from their homes.
Write to your local Church Leaders asking them to:
- Call the local community to prayer for peace with justice in Palestine and Israel;
- Speak out publicly to condemn the use of military force against people at prayer in the Al Aqsa Mosque and the forced evictions of Palestinians from their homes;
- Send messages of solidarity and prayer to our Sisters and Brothers in Palestine.
Write to your MP/Elected Representative:
Please send them the CAABU statement (below) and ask them to:
- speak out publically and call on the Israeli Government to immediately withdraw all troops from the area of the Al Aqsa Mosque;
- end the violence against Palestinian protestors;
- halt all planned evictions of families in the Sheikh Jarrah area of occupied East Jerusalem which, if carried out, would violate international law.
Information for your networks, elected reps and faith leaders:
Pax Christi International statement – https://paxchristi.net/2021/04/27/pax-christi-international-calls-on-un-to-oppose-sheikj-jarrah-silwan-evictions/
World Council of Churches calls for end to violence, urges respect of status quo of holy sites in Jerusalem: https://www.oikoumene.org/news/wcc-calls-for-end-to-violence-urges-respect-of-status-quo-of-holy-sites-in-jerusalem?fbclid=IwAR2TLyEiXFtfMM0v3xH3agjry3WokDCUpOMvIktRIJWkdx_QgG4H25Le0GA
Eye-Witness account from worshipper in Mosque attack: https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/israel-palestine-aqsa-raid-eyewitness-account
The history of the Sheikh Jarrah area of occupied East Jerusalem: https://www.facebook.com/hiddenpalestine/
Footage of the Israeli military entering Al Aqsa mosque while Muslims attend worship for the end of Ramadan – https://twitter.com/arwaib/status/1390800051887345669?s=24
Here’s what our governments have been saying:
Please tell us what actions you have taken and send us any photos you have of your candle, prayer vigil or messages for peace.
URGENT ACTION on behalf of Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem
Pax Christi, England and Wales, supports this letter, from Pax Christi International, to members of the Security Council and we urge all our members and partners to share the letter widely and to contact:
- your elected representatives www.writetothem
- the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @DominicRaab
- James Cleverley, Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) Minister of State for the Middle East email@example.com ; https://twitter.com/jamescleverly
- Your local/national press
to call for an immediate halt to these demolitions, which are illegal under international law and to call Israel to account for ALL its violations of international law.
Pax Christi International has sent an urgent letter to members of the United Nations to immediately oppose Israel’s impending plans to forcibly evict Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem.
These families, evicted from their land during the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, were resettled in the East Jerusalem neighbourhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan. They are now threatened with losing their homes once again. Under international law, East Jerusalem was illegally annexed in 1967 by Israel and is considered by the international community as occupied territory.
The first of these eviction orders are to be executed on 2 May 2021 leaving eighty-seven people, many of whom are old or children, homeless during a global pandemic. Any hope for a just and sustainable peace is slowly being eroded by such attempts to create facts on the ground.
We urge you to raise your voice and demand that eviction and demolition of Palestinian homes stop now.
For more information, please contact Erin Green, Communications Coordinator, Pax Christi International at firstname.lastname@example.org. below
Pax Christi England and Wales, Pax Christi International and other Pax Christi Sections are amongst the 191 international organisations that have endorsed this letter.
Sheikh Jarrah is an area of East Jerusalem, lived in by Palestinian families which are constantly threatened forced evictions following lawsuits by Israeli settler organisations.
The families were forcibly displaced from their original homes during the Nakba in 1948 and have been denied the right of return. Their imminent forced removal from Sheikh Jarrah is part of a pattern of continual harassment that is designed to displace Palestinians and ensure that Jerusalem’s demographic composition is solely Jewish-Israeli. Eighty-seven Palestinians are at risk of forced eviction by Saturday May 2nd and a further three families by August 2021.
In the letter to the ICC the families call on the Office of the Prosecutor to publicly condemn this imminent forced removal, urgently investigate the case and to intervene to stop the displacement of these Palestinian families from their homes.
Pax Christi, England and Wales calls on its members and friends to contact their MPs and the Foreign Secretary to draw attention to these forced removals, which are illegal in international law, and asking them to condemn them and to take action to ensure that the Israeli Government is held accountable for actions which contravene international law.
Link to the Press Release with the letter https://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/18240.html
Please sign this Petition calling for access to COVID 19 vaccination for ALL Palestinians:
Israel has become the first country in the world to vaccinate more than 10% of its population against Covid-19. Unfortunately, this milestone has a dark side: the Israeli government has chosen to vaccinate Israeli citizens but not Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, or Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
Easter in Palestine 2021
The Patriarchs and Heads of local churches in Jerusalem offered an Easter message to the world that celebrates the resurrection as well as unity in Christ:
“This past year has been a time of great sorrow for all the world,” the message reads. “Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions have suffered serious illness, with many succumbing to death.”
Easter reflections 2021 from Sami El-Yousef, CEO of Latin Patriarchate
The Easter campaign focuses on four stations of the Easter story:
· The Road from Jericho to Jerusalem; Bethany and Jabal al Baba; The Mount of Olives; The Holy Sepulchre.
For each station there is:
· A bible study; Feature stories sharing the current reality (both written and videos); Various creative actions we can all take; Social media graphics to share online
Easter in Jerusalem: The Sabeel Community Celebrates Holy Saturday 2021
With Pax Christi International Board Member, Nora Carmi from Jerusalem, Jean Zaru from the Friends Meeting House in Ramallah and Naim Ateek.
The Stones will Cry Out: An Easter Message from Pax Christi International Board Member, Nora Carmi:
The Stones will cry out: Let us be a community of care!
03 April 2021
Thank you, Friends of Sabeel North America for inviting me, a” woman of Jerusalem” to join you in our waiting for Resurrection Day, and at a time when people of all three faiths in this land are trying to celebrate their respective holy feasts: Pessah/Passover, The Resurrection/Easter and the start of the Holy Month of Ramadan, amidst chaotic and uncertain conditions.
In many parts of the world, today 03 April, is the day known as Holy Saturday or Saturday of the Light, marking the last day in Passion Week and the end of darkness and death, before the Light of the Resurrection shines at dawn. In Jerusalem, the city where Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead after three days, it is only the Western Catholic and Protestant churches that will rejoice tomorrow and proclaim “Christ is Risen,” while all the other Orthodox families who follow the Eastern Julian calendar are still observing Lent and will celebrate Resurrection on 02 May. Sadly, this can happen because we have to remember that dates and celebrations are the product of centuries of church councils, differences in interpretations of the message and the Word of God, and historical conquests that led to the still existing status quo in the land of the Resurrection. It is also observed in the Holy Sepulcher, while some other Christian groups believe the burial site of the Savior is in the Garden Tomb, which is found outside the existing Jerusalem Wall. Neither the place nor the date is important! The fact is that the tomb is empty because Christ rose from death to give us abundant LIFE. Unity does not mean uniformity. It is anchored in “We, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another”.” Romans 12:5.
The land of the Holy one is a concrete example of societies around the world where there is no uniform homogenous people or beliefs, with a variety of contradictions and differences. Even Jesus Christ himself lived under occupation, became a refugee, was treated unjustly and vilified, and, because he dared to stand firm and speak the truth, he was crucified.
It is so sad that in the land of the Holy One, there is still so much oppression, injustice, discrimination, violence, destruction and death, today intensified by threats of eviction of families from their homes even in Jerusalem mainly in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan, and special privileges for only one group of people. In addition, like the rest of many regions of the world, we too have been plagued with the Covid 19 pandemic, and its variants, that have claimed several lives and imposed lockdowns. Despite the frustration and initial shock of inability to pursue former physical lives, travel, work, school and even worship, there was ample time for reflection, of self-examination and discovery of new technological means of connection. On-line meetings and prayers gathered many more people around the world and encouraged care of communities. Committed women and young volunteers sought older residents and offered both material and psychological support. Religious leaders joined efforts ecumenically and across faiths, with civil society and human rights institutions, as well as caregivers and non-governmental organizations that spoke out courageously and initiated projects to alleviate the suffering and pain from multiple forms of discrimination including medical and ecological. Realizing that we are all human beings who need to support and uplift each other, consciences were nudged into providing financial assistance, whenever possible. As women of Jerusalem, we shared the grief of all families around the world who lost members because of violence imposed against those of other race, ethnicity or color.
If we believe that Easter is the time when we are reminded of the ultimate love of God, victory over death in order for humanity to have abundant life and all peoples to live in dignity, Why cannot we finally start to understand “the things that make for peace”?(Luke 19:42).
How can we live the greatest and most difficult commandment of LOVE, love of God, neighbor and enemy? Can we comprehend the real meaning of verses 12 and 13 in John’s Gospel, where Jesus Christ advises: “This is my commandment that you love one another just as I have loved you” AND, “Greater love has no one than this that one lay down his life for his friends.”
Are we ready to contribute in the building of a “new” Jerusalem that will welcome each and everyone, as equals?
As we do our duty locally, we join FOSNA in inviting the international community to also work at this time for Palestine/Israel and to wipe away all tears, in order to achieve a just peace with compassion, and set free both the oppressed and the oppressors.
Let us now all together lift up our voices with the stones in Jerusalem and proclaim: “We are a community of care and we will take care of God’s beautiful creation!”
Let me end by wishing you: Christ is risen, He is risen indeed and in Arabic:
-Al Massih Qam, Haqqan Qam المسسيح قام حقا قام
An Easter message from Jean Zaru, Friends Meeting House, Ramallah, Palestine:
” Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.”
” For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
Luke 23: 28, 31
Kairos Palestine invites us to share in their Easter Journey in Jerusalem
The 2021 Easter Alert looks at;
– The religious importance of Jerusalem.
– Jerusalem: a cause of violence or an instrument of peace?
– Jerusalem, a divided or united city?
– Jerusalem is the road to a global peace.
- The Kairos Palestine Christmas Alert with prayers, analysis and reflections from Palestine
- Liturgy Resource
- Kairos Palestine open letter to US Bishop David Malloy regarding the new agreement between Israel and UAE
Statements and actions related to the proposed annexation by the State of Israel of occupied Palestinian territory in the West Bank
- The Archbishop of Wales and two Bishops in Wales have signed this statement on Annexation
- August: a new letter from Pax Christi International to the Christian communities in the Holy Land
- Important: Suggested actions related to the proposed annexation
- From Pax Christi International which includes actions
- From the Catholic Bishops Conference for England & Wales and letter from Palestinian Church leaders
- From Cardinal Nichols and Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury
- From the World Council of Churches to European Foreign Ministers
- Clear briefing from the Council for Arab-British Understanding
- A public statement by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land on the annexation plans
- Read about Pax Christi’s online reflection and prayer session: Annexation – What hope for Palestine?
- Watch and share this beautiful video from Pax Christi International partners at the Arab Educational Institute in Bethlehem.
- Listen to and share the Balfour Project podcast
- Call for equal rights for all living between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River – and for the British Government now to recognise the state of Palestine side by side with Israel. Share the call, drafted by the Balfour Project, with your friends and contacts. Consider writing to your MP and requesting they join the call.
- Talk to your bishop as soon as possible about using Palestinian olive oil for the Chrism Mass. This would be liturgically meaningful and also an act of solidarity with the people of Palestine.
- During lockdown: Call to prayer/quiet on Friday evenings Every Friday at sunset, a small group gathers, near the vehicle checkpoint, in Bethlehem to walk and pray the Rosary. The Icon, seen below, is written on the separation wall and is of ‘Mary who Brings Down Walls’. It shows Mary Weeping. Please light a candle and join us in prayer/ quiet time as we now all do this while being physically distant. Bethlehem has been under lock down for a few weeks but today there is the good news that a number of people in quarantine have recovered.
Holy Land Coordination Group January 2020
The group is made up of Bishops from across Europe, North America and South Africa, making their annual pastoral visit to Israel and Palestine, as they have done for the past 20 years. A statement was released by the bishops at the end of this year’s visit. The group included Pax Christi International Co-President Bishop Marc Stenger and chair of the Middle East Forum of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England & Wales, Bishop Declan Lang.
Statements and links
- Report by Human Rights Watch
- The Vatican issues a statement reiterating support for a two-state solution
- May: British politicians demand that the UK imposes sanctions on Israel if any annexation goes ahead
- Joint Israel-Palestine Peace Memorial Day ceremony online event
- 29th April: Successful Supreme Court Ruling on ethical investment, following a long campaign
- UN Human Rights Office releases a report of business activities related to settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.
- Responses to the ‘plan’ released by Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu on 28th January.
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales: ‘We are extremely concerned that the UK government has welcomed the proposal’
US Conference of Catholic Bishops : ‘the necessity that each state recognizes and supports the legitimacy of each other’
Balfour Project The plan ‘ will perpetuate the conflict and doom any hope of a genuine two-state solution.’
The Elders: ‘would make the two-state solution impossible, entrenching deep inequality along ethnic lines and moving the decades-old conflict into a new phase’.
Dan Smith at SIPRI: A short interview-style analysis ‘It seems to approve in advance the annexation of land, which is actually illegal. ‘
- European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine report that UN officials say it is not anti-Semitic to criticise the government of Israel. A UN letter to the German government regarding new legislation, is now public, as Germany did not respond within mandated 60-day period
- UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ms. Ursula Mueller, visited Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. Her statement calls for a strengthening of international support to the occupied Palestinian territory.
- The Time is Right to Recognise Palestine. Letter to The Times newspaper drafted by the Balfour Project and signed by a wide range of parliamentarians, reported in Independent Catholic News.
- Remember Palestine this Advent and Christmas
- Update from the Arab Educational Institute
- Christmas letter from Joseph Hazboun of CNEWA Pontifical Mission – and his comments on Israeli elections
- General Pax Christi Resource on Israel- Palestine: updated for Autumn 2019
- Jewish Voices for Peace: Israel/Palestine 101. Film made a few years ago but still relevant for providing a basic understanding of the history
Statements about house demolitions:
- Governments of UK, France, Spain and Germany
- World Council of Churches
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- Amnesty International
Background information from:
- August 2019: Information database from Israeli organisation Yesh Din which ‘consolidates all the bills and laws presented to the Knesset by members of Knesset which feature a characteristic or element pertaining to annexation: Annexation Legislation Database
- July 7th 2019: The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PRHOC) issued a statement titled: “PHROC Condemns Israel’s Denial of Entry to UN Special Rapporteur, Mr. Michael Lynk: here
- From H.B. Michel Sabbah, President of Pax Christi International from 1999 till 2007 and Latin Patriarchate Emeritus of Jerusalem, on the present situation in Israel/Palestine
- Latin Patriarchate Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries calls on people of Holy Land to build bridges of respect and love:
- Keep up with UN reports here: United Nations Office…occupied Palestinian territories
Morally Responsible Investment – Resources
Think Twice: excellent report from Amnesty International, published in March 2019. Asks the question: Can companies do business in Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories while respecting human rights.?
Investing for Peace: A guide for local church activists that calls on UK churches to implement Morally Responsible investment policies to ensure that companies that they procure from and invest in do not profit from or advance the occupation.
Produced by Sabeel-Kairos with War on Want, Pax Christi and AMOS Trust. Download here
Holy Land Coordination Group 2019
Series of articles published after the 2019 visit of the Holy Land Coordination group. This is made up of Bishops from across Europe, North America and South Africa, who have made an annual pastoral visit to Israel and Palestine for the past 20 years. Marie Dennis, Co-President of Pax Christi International was also part of this delegation.
Church statements on the Israeli National State Law
- Bishops of England and Wales oppose unjust Israeli law November 2018
- Statement from Bishop of the Evangelical and Lutheran Church 1 August 2018
- Statement from the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem 19 July 2018
15 July. Take action NOW in to prevent more demolition of Khan al Ahmar village
Download leaflet to share in your local church, J&P group, community. Use this, and information below, to keep informed and take action.
Statement from World Council of Churches, 13 July 2018 “Demolishing the homes and especially the school in Khan al-Ahmar is an inhumane decision violating the human rights of people already living in extremely difficult conditions because of decades of injustice,”
- Time for Action: British Response to Kairos Palestine. Read the full document here. Paper copy available from Pax Christi price £5.00 order here
- Kairos Palestine: document produced in 2009 by Christians in Palestine
- Summary leaflet on Kairos Palestine
- Here regular blogs from a partner in Bethlehem, Toine Van Teeffelen. Very useful insights into life in Bethlehem
POPE FRANCIS IN PALESTINE & ISRAEL
- Speech and prayer for meeting with Palestinian and Israeli leaders, Rome, 9 June 2014
- Speech to the Palestinian Authority 25th May 2014. Full details of all meetings/speeches