Who can tell better about what is going on in the Holy Land than the Israeli and Palestinian human rights sources, Head of Religious Leaders in the Holy Land and world wide, the NGOs and the different delegation who witnessed first hand, as they lived or visited the Holy land, or observed through their offices in the States or elsewhere and dared to speak out about the situation?
Septemebr 28, 2000 Sharton, Yehud
Barak was still Prime minister, visits Harm el Sharif escorted with thousands
of IDF, violence erupts a second Intifada starts. The Palestinians see
in this a provocation.
October 2 Patriarch Sabbah writes: "The painful and bloody events which we are living today, following the provocation of religious feelings in the Haram Al-Sharif (the Noble Mosque) tells one thing: the Palestinian people claims for life and freedom. And he will have life and freedom, sooner or later. We hope it will be sooner than later. Because violence cannot be the guide of life in this Holy Land. Justice is the only guide and symbol. It is high time for every leader in this land to understand that. It is not in vain that the situation came suddenly to this explosion.."
Please see the whole article at: http://www.al-bushra.org/latpatra/october2.htm
October 3, Rabbi MICHAEL LERNER from San Francisco writes
"My son served in the Israeli Army in the West Bank, so for me the
barbarous killings of two soldiers by a lynch mob in Ramallah made me feel
the same anger that must have led Israeli Prime Minister Barak to bomb
Palestinian leader Arafat's compound in retaliation and to escalate the
war against the Palestinians. So when I saw the pictures of the murder of
those young men, I cried and was filled with rage. Yet I can also understand that to those Palestinians these two young men killed were just members of the occupying army, the army that had been brutally killing over 80 Palestinians and wounding more than 2000 civilians in the past week and might have seemed indistinguishable
from the Jewish mobs that attacked random Arab Israelis in Nazareth a few
days ago, beating and burning. For every outrage on one side there is a
story of outrage on the other. For me, that doesn't justify either
side--both are wrong and both sides need to atone.
Please read the whole article at: http://www.al-bushra.org/hedchrch/lerner.htm
October 10, The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA and Church World
Service and Witness have said it clear about the responsibility of the starting of the violence, it say: "Since demonstrations began in Jerusalem following Member of Knesset Ariel Sharon's entry into the walled compound known to Muslims as the Noble
Sanctuary (Haram al-Sharif in Arabic) and to Jews as the Temple Mount (Har
haBayit in Hebrew), each day has brought new reports of death and injury.
We express our sorrow over the loss of human life and offer our sincere
condolences to the grieving families. At the same time, we decry the severity of the Israeli response, and condemn their disproportionate use of force. The massive and one-sided loss of life and infliction of injury and property damage belie Israeli claims to legitimate self-defense. We call upon Mr. Barak to practice restraint, as
we urge Mr. Arafat to do all in his power to stop the violence."
Please read the full article at: http://www.al-bushra.org/hedchrch/ncc.htm
Many documents from different sources in 2000 that you can read on http://www.al-bushra.org/hedchrch/updates2000.html
say about what the Vatican's permanent observer will say at the United
Nations: " The present crisis in the Middle East
demonstrations that the violation of human rights "can lead into a cycle of violence which often becomes uncontrollable."
Please read the article on: http://www.al-bushra.org/vatican/urge.htm
December 14, by the end of 2000, the situation is said
as follows by the Ecumenical US delegation who visited Israel and the Palestinian
Territories: "We have come as an ecumenical delegation of United States
churches in this holy season in anticipation of the birth of the "Prince
of Peace" in this land ... We have heard the terror in the voices of Israeli
Jews and Palestinians--Christians and Muslims alike. We heard a rabbi
express fear for his daughter who serves in the Israeli army.
We believe that the following steps are additional elements in the effort to "do justice:"
1) that Israelis and Palestinians cease all acts of violence and attempts to kill and return to the negotiating table immediately;
2) that Israeli forces end the use of disproportionate force in violation of international norms, as when tanks and helicopters are used to attack civilian neighborhoods;
3) that Israel stop further confiscation of land, house demolitions, widespread closures, destruction of trees and agricultural fields, settlement expansions, and other policies that victimize Palestinians and change the "facts on the ground" before reaching a final negotiated peace agreement;
4) that, prior to such a peace agreement that can end the current violence, Palestinian populations under occupation have some form of immediate protection provided by the international community;
5) that the United States suspend current sales of attack helicopters to Israel pending investigation of their use against civilian targets as well as assurances that they will be used in conformity with United States law covering "end-use" in our weapons sales;
6) that the United States should make all necessary changes so that US aid to Israel is administered and made accountable consistent with the rules and procedures that are applied to every other recipient of US aid;
7) that governments and relief agencies join the churches in providing humanitarian aid to the Palestinians;
8) that a final peace agreement include a plan to share the city of Jerusalem that fully respects and protects equally the national rights of both Israelis and Palestinians in the city (under whatever political formula may be worked out) and, further, that guarantees the rights of access, worship, and practice to all three faiths--Judaism, Christianity, and Islam--with international supervision to enforce these rights as may be needed.
Please read full article at: http://www.al-bushra.org/hedchrch/dec14.htm
By January of 2001 Violence escalates with Israel killings of Palestinians, with demolishing of houses, uprooting of olives, building of settlements; from the Palestinian side the suicide bombers targeting Israeli civilians.
On January 15, 2001, In his annual address to the 175 diplomats
accredited to the Holy See, Pope John Paul II says: "Regarding the Middle
East, the Pope warned that the international community should not accept
the "banalization of a sort of guerilla warfare, the persistence of injustice,
the contempt for international law" that still prevails there. He added
that Israelis and Palestinians "cannot contemplate a future except their
future together." "It is high time to return to the principles of international
law," he said. In a clear rebuke to the government of Israel, he spelled
out the violations that should be ended: the acquisition of territory by
force, the right of all people to self-determination, and the need to respect
UN resolutions and Geneva conventions. If these principles of international
law are not respected, he continued, "everything is at risk," and the potential
for "an escalation of violence that will be difficult to control."
Please read whole article on: http://www.al-bushra.org/hedchrch/jan15.html
President George W. Bush sworn into office January 20, 2001.
Ariel Sharon was not yet prime Minister of Israel he was elected on February 6, 2001.
Sharon, as a new Prime Minister promises to finish the Intifada in 100 days.
After the fist visit of PM Sharon to the USA, a campaign to discredit Mr. Arafat starts is and accused for nourishing violence, the American Administration promises not to meet with Arafat who have visited the White House at the time of Clinton several times.
A new era of violence starts, Amnesty International write on February
21 :"The targeting of Palestinians suspected of attacking Israelis amounts
to a policy of state assassination, Amnesty International said today. In
a new report out today the organization is urging the Israeli authorities
to put an end to this liquidation policy and to investigate all unlawful
killings of Palestinians."
Please read full article on: http://www.al-bushra.org/hedchrch/feb21.html
February 26, at the same time that Secretary of State Colin L.
Powell voiced his "deep concern for the dire economic situation that everyday
Palestinians must bear. It is my view that economic pressure contributes
to an overall deterioration in the situation here in the territories."
Read news at: http://www.al-bushra.org/hedchrch/march7.html
Patriarch Michel Sabbah, his annual Lenten letter this week, tells Israel's army, "Destroy our churches if you must, but leave the people their homes."
Please read full message at: http://www.al-bushra.org/latpatra/lent2001.html
May 10th 350 Israeli intellectuals complain about their
own Israeli Government actions against Palestinians "While we totally condemn
acts of terror against civilians, we regard the Palestinian revolt against
colonial occupation as legitimate. Despite the fact that many innocent
Israelis have been victims of this revolt we understand that there can
be no moral and military symmetries between occupiers and occupied. The
occupation itself is morally and politically wrong; the excessive force
Israel uses in order to impose its rule against growing Palestinian resistance
is totally unacceptable..."
Please read full statement at: http://www.al-bushra.org/hedchrch/may10.html
In June 21: US Church leaders who met meet with Secretary of
State Powell write to him saying: "There are particular moments when we
are acutely aware that our current actions will later have to stand the
judgment of history. Our government's largely uncritical support for Israel
will mark this as one of those moments. While we adamantly support Israel's
right to exist and to be accepted by its neighboring states, we support
with equal vigor a just outcome for the Palestinians who are now the victims
of Israeli Occupation. Our government's role in rectifying the Occupation
will test its resolve to end this conflict that cripples the region's development
and threatens its future."
Please read full article on http://www.al-bushra.org/hedchrch/june21.html
The 100 days that Sharon have asked for did not stop violence. He asks for more time. Violence from both parties, the Israelis and the Palestinians continues. The Media takes lead and head lines starts to blame the victims and not the occupying forces. Orient House is taken on August.
August 20, Jews of Belgium state their position "In the light
of the blatantly unequal balance of forces between the two sides and leniency
shown by the United States towards Israel, bilateral negotiations between
Israelis and Palestinians have very little chance of success unless pressure
is exerted by the international community and especially by the European
Union. The persistence of the current situation constitutes a serious threat
to peace and political stability in the whole of the Middle East."
Please read full article at: http://www.al-bushra.org/hedchrch/august20.html
September 11, a terrorist attack on innocents in the USA condemned world wide will bring a new start to look into violence: War into terrorism
December 21, by the end of 2001, the UN General Assembly will
ask for International observers to be sent to the Holy Land: "The assembly
vote on Thursday has no binding authority but carries the weight of international
opinion. The resolution, vetoed by the United States on Saturday, passed
Thursday in the 189-nation Assembly by a vote of 124-6, with 25 abstentions.
The measure condemned acts of terror against Israelis and Palestinians,
demanded an end to nearly 15 months of Mideast violence and asked for a
monitoring mechanism to bring in observers, which Israel opposes.
Please read full article by Associated Press at: http://www.al-bushra.org/hedchrch/un6.html
2002 Starts and the number of victims on both sides doubles. Sharon did not give peace to Israel as promised; more violence in the Holy Land; more Palestinians and More Israelis die. We speak about Mitchell, Tenet plans. We hear about news of massacres in Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah and then denials, then voting for UN fact-finding commission, then the vote was aborted, not vetoed. Arafat will be gradually accused of terrorism and calls to be removed, killed or exiled take place on the head lines.
January 21, Jewish, Christian and Muslim Religious leaders call
for the implementation of Mitchell and Tenet plans: "We will not accept
(the bloodshed) anymore. There cannot be peace if we don't have a new language
between religions and we have started this new language here," Rabbi Michael
Melchior, a deputy foreign minister and leader of Israel's delegation,
told a press conference at the end of the conference. Carey said the three
faiths had a "shared duty" to promote peace and harmony in Israel and the
Palestinian territories... The conference received the support of Israeli
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Egyptian
President Hosni Mubarak, who was due to meet some of the participants in
Cairo on Tuesday. "As a first step now, we call for a religiously sanctioned
cease-fire, respected and observed on all sides, and for the implementation
of the Mitchell and Tenet recommendations, including the lifting of restrictions
(on the Palestinians) and a return to negotiations," the declaration said."
Please read article by Associated press: http://www.al-bushra.org/hedchrch/leaders2.html
February 15: 90 members of Rabbis for Human Rights replants
a number of the 30,000 Palestinian olive trees because of uprooted ones
by Israeli soldiers.
Please read article at: http://www.al-bushra.org/hedchrch/rabbis1.html
The USA is engaged in war against terrorism in Afghanistan, Israel starts to speak about her engagement against terrorism in the Occupied Territories. The Arab Summit in Beirut, Lebanon, March 2002, comes with a new initiative to recognize Israel if Israel returns the Occupied Territories. But a war of media and misinformation start to change things on the ground everywhere in the Middle East and Muslims feels targeted by a strategic plan and labeled as violent people. Then the condemnation of some Muslim organizations as terrorist groups. War against terrorism started to label as terrorists, at the same level, the people who are resisting the occupation and the others who are killing civilians. Israel reoccupies the Territories under the P.A. The economical situation in Palestine became the worse than ever.
November 4 The UN Fourth Committee states "Drawing attention
to the mounting humanitarian crisis, poverty levels in the occupied Palestinian
territory had risen to above 60 per cent, and unemployment was at around
50 per cent, owing largely to an intensified Israeli regime of closures
and curfews. The once productive Palestinian economy was now in a
state of collapse and dependent totally on external assistance".
Please read full article at: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2002/gaspd251.doc.htm
December 27, the Vatican raps Israel strategy against terrorism: "Archbishop
Pietro Sambi, the apostolic nuncio in Jerusalem, said that Israel's policies
amount to "unjust collective punishment" of the Palestinian people. Speaking
to the Italian daily newspaper Avvenire, the archbishop said that he does
not question the right and duty of the Israeli government to combat terrorism.
But the means that Israel employs, he said, tend to "treat every resident
as a terrorist." "That approach does not combat terrorism; it creates new
terrorists," the archbishop said. "
Please read full article at: http://www.al-bushra.org/hedchrch/vatican25.html
By 2003 The war against terrorism turns against Iraq. A plan was said to redo the Middle East map. The USA and England prepare for the public opinion for war. The international community march against war in Iraq. The Coalition go to war. Saddam Hussein disappears. Then we start to speak less about Ben Laden and 9/11 or Afghanistan. When the world is busy, Israel invades more Palestinian cities. Terrorism is the word most used in the media. But nobody have yet given any definition of what was terrorism. Some speak of terrorism of groups, others of terrorism of States. The innocent die, the world (the Arabs, the Europeans, the Americans ...) is an Occupied Territory by the Media. Sharon starts to build a separation wall in the Holy Land.
We see the emerge of the "Road Map" by President Bush after the end of the war in Iraq in June 2003. Then we start to hear about accusations and contra-accusations of who really is destroying the vision of President Bush on the "Road Map."
We start to see then less and less people in the world speaking about the true violence in the Holy Land and who is the real responsible of all the escalation. The Arab world goes to a sleep. We see also the well organized media who was covering some injustices, justifying some lethal actions and/or accusing or/and condemning some people of the Palestinian People about this or that deterioration.
When in fact, some religious Leaders, Human rights and NGO's (http://www.al-bushra.org/hedchrch/sabbah20.html) continued to dare to speak out. They point out the problem and gave the solution: The Occupation of a land and people is the problem, work for justice you will find peace.
Please read documents about 2003 Intifada
The SOLUTION is three words: End of Occupation:
Some religious have seen the solution as a vision:
a) Rabbi Michael Lerner saw it rightly, from the very beginning of the second Intifada: on October 3, 2000 "None of this justifies Palestinian violence or the far more massive counter-violence of the occupying Israeli army. But I see no hope that the
disgusting cycle of violence on both sides will stop until Israel is
willing to end the occupation and end its internal racism against Arab
Israelis. And as a religious Jew, I know that God and the Torah are served
best when we insist that every human being, including our enemies, be seen
as equally valuable to God and equally created as embodiments of the
Read please all article at: http://www.al-bushra.org/hedchrch/lerner.htm
b) The national Council of Churches:
"The fundamental source of the present violent confrontation lies in the
continued failure to make real the national rights of the Palestinian people
to a sovereign independent state in their own homeland and to create just
security arrangements in the region." From NCC/CWSW
Read all article at: http://www.al-bushra.org/hedchrch/ncc.htm and reaffirmed http://www.al-bushra.org/hedchrch/national.htm
C) Also from the Statement of the US Ecumenical Delegation visiting
Israel: "We have come to understand that the fundamental requirement for
a durable peace is the prompt end of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian
areas in fulfillment of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242
and 338. This will require Israeli withdrawal to the borders of June
4, l967 (including East Jerusalem and the settlements) except as may be
modified by mutual consent and exchange of territory."
Read all article at: http://www.al-bushra.org/hedchrch/dec14.htm
I hope that this study will contribute to see things in the light of a better future for the people in the Holy Land as the end of 2003 draws near and the fourth year of the Intifada had already started a month ago.
For more about the documents mentioned in my article,
Please visit UPDATES on www.Al-Bushra.org
Fr. Labib Kobti