ON THE EVE OF CHRISTMAS IN THE HOLY LAND
On the eve of Christmas, we, Christians of the Holy Land, want to express once more our need and desire for peace. Peace is at the heart of the message of Christmas that was proclaimed in Bethlehem. In spite of the sufferings and the constraints we face in our daily life, we continue to believe in this peace which, because it has its origin in God, will one day prevail over all human enmity.
In the occupied Palestinian Territories daily life has in fact been reduced to a struggle for survival. The incursions by the Israeli Army have destroyed all social infrastructures that the Palestinians had put up during the last years. The population is living in constant fear in face of the threat of massive interventions by the Israeli Army or pointed actions to arrest or kill so-called suspected militants. The occupation of towns, arbitrarily imposed curfews, hundreds of military roadblocks or the mere destruction of the roads have made all social and economic life practically impossible. Three quarters of the Palestinian families are living below poverty level and have become dependant on external aid, even for their daily food. Palestinians are prisoners in their own homes, towns and villages. They can never be sure to reach their homes, work, hospitals, churches or mosques. Many gave up visiting their families or friends, because they cannot stand being checked, harassed and humiliated over and over again at the many military checkpoints. During the past weeks, Palestinian farmers have even been prevented at gun point, by Israeli settlers, from harvesting their olives, which are part of their basic food and one of the rare resources that they have left.
We do not understand the passivity of the world in front of this situation that has become inhuman. Therefore, we urge you to make your voice heard and to relay our call for help. Be sure to let everyone know that the Palestinian People, Muslims and Christians alike, remain ready for peace, for coexistence with the State of Israel, as an independent Palestinian State, in equality and dignity. Their deepest desire is to be able to live and to offer a future to their children. The large majority rejects the attacks against innocent civilians, but the best way to put an end to these attacks is to open a political perspective for the future, allowing hope for an end to military occupation by Israel, which is at the root of the present spiral of violence. However, until today, such a perspective is totally lacking. Peace is not possible without a basic justice. The international community cannot evade its responsibility.
We count on your solidarity. The mere fact of knowing that you are aware of our living conditions, of feeling that you are close to us, is a great encouragement for us and helps us to keep our hope alive. Come over on pilgrimage; come here to see us and to show us your support and affection.
May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, “God with us” and “Prince of
Peace”, bestow upon you his light and his peace in abundance, on this feast
of Christmas, and may He grant us all brighter times in the coming New
Year. May we walk together and work together for a more just and fraternal
world for all.
Justice and Peace Commission – Jerusalem 2002
The Justice and Peace Commission – Jerusalem is a Roman Catholic body, functioning under the auspices of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land. Its aim is a) to study and promote issues concerning justice, peace, human rights and rights of peoples, and b) to assist the local Christian community in becoming more aware of its role and in fulfilling its responsibilities in these fields. The members are mainly Catholic lay persons, women and men, with priests and religious living and working in Jerusalem and in the Palestinian Territories.
JUSTICE AND PEACE COMMISSION
Notre Dame of Jerusalem Centre
P.O. Box 20459 – Jerusalem
Tel/Fax. (02) 6287719