Christians STAND for Justice in Jerusalem

By Fr. Labib Kobti

Al-Bushra: http://www.al-bushra.org

Wed, 9 Jul 97

As we are preparing the Great Jubilee in Jerusalem, and we have started already the first year of prepartion we need to take A CLEAR STAND. WE cannot be Christ disciples if we do not work for JUSTICE in the HOME land of our Savior.

1- Thanking the STANDS of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and all Chrisitian Churches and Communities for their position expressed in the past to support JUSTICE, PEACE and TRUTH over the issues of the Middle East and Holy Land: those expressed by Cardinal Bernardin, Cardinal Mahony, and Cardinal Keeler in 1989; the letter signed by Cardinal Keeler and other seven US Christian leaders to president Clinton on March 1995, and the letter to US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on March 21.1997 written by the chairman of the U.S. Catholic Conference’s internatational Policy Committee, Archbishop McCarrick, we ask our CATHOLIC CHURCH in the USA to help our Countries and DARE TO SPEAK OUT AND CHALLENGE the US Admisnistration by all means: Media, Homelies, bulletins, letter to their represtentative in the Senate and Congress etc.

2- The Stands of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops goes with the stands of the Holy See, the Vatican and with the Head of Christian Churches in the Middle East and Holy Land, as those are our truthful sources of information about the situation in those regions.It goes with the stands of many Orthodox, Protestant, Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities and their human rights organization all over the world.

3- Those STANDS could be summarized as follows: ( find them on htttp://al-bushra.org)

a- The Clinton Administration is failing to reconize and support Palestinian rights and interests in their Home Land Palestine, on the contrary the U.S is backing Israel even when Israel violate its own signed agreements in Madrid, Oslo and Washington. Archbishop McCarrick dares to question in his letter to US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on March 21.1997 the integrity of the US policy: "The U.S. veto of the Security Council resolution on Jebel Abu Ghneim/Har Homa and your recent reticence on the matter raises questions about the U.S. role as an honest broker in the peace procces," "Unless the U.S. leads in establishng genuine respect for the interests of both sides no negotiation can expect to result in a just and lasting peace.”

b- The Clinton is not using its considerable influence to halt Israeli constructions in East Arab Jerusalem, and continued expansion into Palestinian Areas and this in contravention of international law. More and more Palestinian lands is taken out the Palestinian hands and placed under Israeli control by annexation, expropriation and private purchases (often with our US tax money given yearly to Israel, more than $3 billion) often coercive or of questionable legality.

c- An Ethnic cleanising in Jerusalem is in process, St. Yves, a Catholic Human Right Organization wrote about this years ago, please read it at the end of our message. Many other Human Rights Organiozations, Churches, Synagogues and Mosques spoke about actual facts on the ground in Jerusalem of that Ethnic cleanising, at the same moment the US is backing away from its long-term policy that East- Jerusalem is subject to U.N. Security 242 regarding territories occupied by Israeli armed forces in 1967, and that of all Israeli measures which exceed the power of a belligerent occupant under internatiuonal law should be therefore null and void.

d- Jerusalem, like the entire Holy land, has witnessed throughout its history the successive advent of numerous peoples: they came from the desert. from the sea, from the north, from the east. Most often the newcomers were gradually integrated into the local population. This was a rather constant characteristic. But when the newcomers tried to claim exclusive possession of the city and the land, or refused to integrate themselves, then the others rejected them. Indeed, the experience of history teaches us that in order for Jerusalem to be a city of peace, no longer lusted after from the outside and thus a bone of contention between warring sides, it cannot belong exclusively to one people or to only one religion. Jerusalem should be open to all, shared by all. Those who govern the city should make it "the capital of humankind." This universal vision of Jerusalem would help those who exercise power there to open it to others who also are fondly attached to it and to accept sharing it with them.

e- The many messages from the Head of Christians Communities in the Midlle East, the Vatican and the U.S. Catholics as well form many many Orthodox, Protestant and Christian Churches as well from Muslim Communities and Jewish Communities show that how much the issue of the Peace process is in danger and violence could be the next step if we do not help to stop all kinds of provocations and insensibility to the needs of the Palestinians, Israelis, Lebanese, Iraquis, Syriens, to the Jews, Christians and Muslims in the region. The confiscation of Land, the confiscation of Arab Jerusalimites ID's, the closure of the Occupied Territories, the Qana issue and Iraq issue are urging us to DARE TO SPEAK OUT YOUR CONSCIENCE.

We urge then all Catholic Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, Priests, Deacons, Religious Orders, Congregations to listen to the call of their CONSCIENCE and STAND with TRUTH, JUSTICE and PEACE. We are not anti-Isralei, or anti-semite, we are not pro-Arab or Pro-Palestinians we are Pro-TRUTH, Pro-Justice and Pro-Peace. This is what our CONSCIENCE asking us to do.

For more information go to Al-Bushra http://www.al-bushra.org

Please read this report of 1994

Decimation of Palestinians in Occupied Territories of Palestine

The Society of St Yves wishes to bring to the attention of Christians in the world that the Israeli government has begun to implement systematically policies and practices that are intended to wipe out the Christian community of East Jerusalem and the West Bank in occupied Palestine. The following steps are now being put fully into effect:

1.Resident Aliens Christians and Muslims who live in occupied Palestine are resident aliens according to Israeli legal practice.They are not recognized as natives, or indigenous people having the right to live where they were born - rights known as the ius soli - nor do they have the rights to live here as the descendants of local natives - rights known as the ius sanguinis. Israel does not recognize the rights of non Jews to family in areas under its domination. This means of course that nonJewish society and its needs is not taken into consideration at all by the Israeli authorities.

2. JERUSALEM DENIAL OF HOUSING

The Israelis have forbidden all new buildings and proper external renovations of Christian property in the Christian quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem and have thus managed to restrict the number of Christians living in the Old city. Living conditions are over-crowded, unsanitary and inadequate in most cases, as a result of these laws.

3.Spot Zoned

The East Jerusalem Arab villages and neighbourhoods have been "spot" zoned: that is, 90% of Arab owned land is left unzoned so that it cannot legally be used. Therefore of no economic value and cannot be sold. The 10% that has been zoned most of which is defined as "open landscape area" has left Arabs with a shortfall of approximately 23,000 apartments.

4. Living Space

In East Jerusalem Arabs have about 3 sq. m. living space per person: in Jewish areas of both East and West Jerusalem, Jews have about 19 sq. m. living space per person. To exemplify this disparity, the figures are such that between 1990 and 1993, 6607 houses were built by the public authorities for Jews, while private Palestinians could only build 463 houses.

5. Location of buildings

Where building can take place, Arabs have to pay now about $30,000 for a licence and levies. Jews have their housing built with a pre-prepared infrastructure which is included in the price, and for which they receive subsidised mortgages. Also there are no land costs in Jewish building.

6. New Jewish Neighborhoods

The Israelis have built only new Jewish neighbourhoods in occupied East Jerusalem on confiscated and expropriated Arab land sometimes using the pretext of law as a justifcation. There is no public housing with public subsidies for Arabs.

7. Moving out & lack of housing

These policies and practices have forced people to move out of Israeli-defined Jerusalem into the neighbouring towns of Ramallah and Bethlehem and the adjacent villages. This lack of housing now is now being used against the Palestinians who live in the West Bank even though they have Jerusalem identity cards, thus denying them their rights in Jerusalem

DENIAL OF SOCIAL BENEFITS AND RIGHTS

In the latest clamp down by the Israeli authorities - the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Internal Security (sic: formerly the Police Ministry) Christians working in Jerusalem and carrying Jerusalem identity cards who have been living in Bethlehem and Ramallah and other villages, are about to lose their right to work in Jerusalem, and with it their rights to social security, child support and health insurance, for which they have paid during their entire professional lives.

FORCED EXPULSION AND ETHNIC CLEANSING

10. The loss of work and the attendant loss of income, together with the loss of benefits these identity cards confer, will create a situation whereby Christians are being forced to turn to their relatives abroad in order for them to find a place where they can find work, and take care of their families.

11.Such emigration is the direct result of Israeli policies and is in fact a form of expulsion, or "voluntary transfer," as Israeli politicians euphemistically call it.

12. People who have been living abroad because of the need to work there or to study, are now being denied a renewal of their Jerusalem identity cards and therefore are automatically losing their rights to Jerusalem residency with all its attendant consequences. They are being turned into exiles!

LOSS OF PROPERTY RIGHTS

13. The loss of a Jerusalem identity card also means that heirs to Jerusalem property who are no longer living in Jerusalem will lose their property to the Israeli government under the guise that this is now Absentee Property according to Israeli law. This is one of the basic goals of Zionist policy.

LOCAL CHRISTIANS - ALIEN RESIDENTS

14. At the same time, there are Christians who have been living in Jerusalem for many years who have been refused Jerusalem identity cards, and they live in abject terror of the Israeli authorities finding them. Their children have difficulty attending schools, particularly if they are in either Ramallah and Bethlehem. These people have no rights whatsoever.

DESTRUCTION OF CHRISTIAN EDUCATION

15. Christian schools have been severely hit by these regulations, which have seriously affected teachers and pupils living in Bethlehem or Ramallah. These schools will probably have to close down or move out of Jerusalem.And this after more than one hundred years of operation.

WEST BANK

16. The confinement of Christians and all Arabs to Palestinian micro-areas - ghettos or "palestans" - is the implementation of the new political and economic dispensation of Oslo: hafrada in Hebrew and apartheid in Afrikaans. This is part of the continuing Zionist policies of all Israeli government to make the Jewish state as free of non-Jews as possible. For all governments this covers "Greater Israel" which means all of Palestine west of the Jordan river.

17. The practices in Jerusalem apply equally in the West Bank. The removal of identity cards for people living abroad, and loss of property rights applies here as well. The lack of housing as a result of non-planning, and the general de-development of this territory leaves people with no work. There are also no economic prospects for the future.

18. The residents of the West Bank suffer a serious shortage of water in order to permit the Jews to have water on tap without restriction in the West Bank and Israel proper. Jews are allocated 280 litres/day and Arabs 65 litres/day according to Israeli sources. Palestinians pay up to 6 times as much for their water than Jews do!

19. West Bank Christians are seriously contemplating leaving the area as they are faced with chronic unemployment and ultimate starvation. As a result of these deliberately created atrocious living conditions, we are now about to witness an enforced exodus of Christians from the Holy Land where they have been witnesses for the past 2000 years. The celebration of Jesus, birth in the year 2000 will be in the presence of a dying remnant of Christians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The Society of St. Yves maintains that the governments of Israel are creating those conditions which inevitably lead to the death of the Palestinian Christian community in the occupied territories including East Jerusalem. Please send this message to everyone you know. Write a letter for clarification of these issues to the Israeli embassy nearest to you in protest. Please forward theirresponses to us and we will give you the truth as against their prevarication. Please come to our aid and please start campaigning to prevent this exile!!

Lynda Brayer, Advocate Executive Legal Director Society of St. Yves - Catholic Legal Resource and Human Rights Center Jerusalem/Bethlehem

********* I am my brother's keeper ********

Please help us with your prayers and take a stand to speak about Justice and Peace in the Holy Land. Thanks POB 20531 Jerusalem Email- styves@netvision.net.il Tel.972-2-286-729 Fax: 972-2-286-339

For more information go to http://www.al-bushra.org and to JERUSALEM! What is the TRUTH?

Join us with your prayers. Thanks

Fr. Labib Kobti Al-Bushra