March 29, 2013
Canadian Friends of Sabeel (CFOS) notes with concern at this time - Holy Week in the western Christian calendar - the curtailment of freedom of religion imposed by Israel through its illegal occupation of the West Bank including the Old City of Jerusalem. In light of the current restrictions and denial of access for thousands of Palestinian Christians to their mother city of Jerusalem for Holy Week observances, we are calling on the new Office of Religious Freedom of the Canadian government to investigate and demand Israel comply with international law. This is consistent with the Office's mandate to promote "Canadian values...of human rights and the rule of law worldwide."
Palm Sunday celebrations in Jerusalem were diminished this week by the denial of permits to hundreds of Palestinians, including girl and boy scout marching bands planning to take part in the ancient annual procession retracing Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. CFOS chair, Fr. Robert Assaly, recalled with regret the continued such restrictions on religious practices since he lived there 20 years ago, "I remember the shame I felt every year as we headed down the road with our Canadian passports to the Mount of Olives for the Palm Sunday procession, bidding farewell to my neighbours who were denied access."
Today, these and the multitude of other restrictions imposed by Israel’s occupation forces which violate freedom of worship are part of wider institutionalized discriminatory practices against Palestinian Muslims and Christians. The hundreds of thousands of Israeli and non-Israeli Jews living in settlements in the same West Bank, however illegally, are allowed unfettered access to occupied East Jerusalem. The “systemic discrimination” which the Office is mandated to address is unabashedly evident in the Jewish-only settlement roads leading to Jerusalem, built on illegally seized Palestinian Muslim and Christian land and which carve up and render unusable Palestinian access. Palestinian roads are punctuated with Israeli military checkpoints and roadblocks, and end at the illegal separation (apartheid) wall severing occupied East Jerusalem from the rest of the occupied West Bank.
Respected Palestinian Spokeswoman, Hanan Ashrawi, a Christian, insisted, “There should not even be a question of needing permits to visit one’s own city. East Jerusalem is the occupied capital of the Palestinian people and freedom of worship is a basic human right for all of our Christian and Muslim citizens — a right which is being systematically and increasingly denied by a foreign occupying force.”
The curtailing of religious freedoms for Muslims and Christians are inevitable in such a discriminatory system which denies them freedom of movement and access to work and trade, to educational, cultural and medical facilities, as well as to religious and family celebrations and observances. These restrictions are imposed on the basis that they are Christian and Muslim, however one Palestinian people.
These are contraventions of fundamental human rights and international law, including the IV Geneva Convention for which federal law requires Canada to “ensure respect” by the occupying power, Israel. We thus call upon the Office of Religious Freedom to address this, and to clarify unequivocally that these violations are contrary to both Canadian values and the rule of international law. We further request the Office to publicize its findings and report such that the Minister of Foreign Affairs as responsible for the Office could publically call Israel to account during his upcoming visit there and demand a permanent termination of such discriminatory practices before the Eastern calendar Holy Week in one month’s time.
Click here to continue reading.
Week of May 20, 2013
Guest Editor's Note: This week on Ecclesio we will read five articles on the North American response to Kairos Palestine, a confession of faith written by Palestinian Christians in 2009, calling for solidarity in their hour of need. The document is translated from its original Arabic into twenty languages, and is called A Moment of Truth: A word of faith, hope and love from the heart of Palestinian suffering. With all the heads of churches in the Holy Land signing this confession of faith, it is a unique call to action to the Christian community around the world.
This week's articles on Ecclesio will report on some of the actions taken by U.S. denominations in response to this call. On Friday, we will read a report on the Canadian response.
As a Presbyterian Elder living in New York City, I was glad and proud to see our General Assembly receive Kairos Palestine for study in 2010, even though some tried to say its call for non-violent economic action should be considered violent because of the long, violent Christian history against Jews. I hope Christians of conscience will take the time to read, reflect and act on this call from the fast-dwindling Christians of the Holy Land. The Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA) has provided a good introduction online and the full document too. The Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA), on whose board I serve, has produced a small and well-used study guide for groups, which also includes the full document. It is available through the denomination's online store.
(N.B. The Canadian Churches' Forum for Global Ministries has also produced a study guide for the Kairos Palestine document. Please visit their website for more information.)
Monday Pauline Coffman Kairos USA: a movement emerges as a response to Kairos Palestine
Tuesday Mark Braverman Kairos Time: A U.S. Call to Action
Wednesday Susanne Hoder An Awakening: American Churches embrace targeted economic actions in response to Kairos Palestine
Thursday Katherine Cunningham Response to Kairos Palestine: “The Letter of 15” and the use of U.S. military aid by Israel in Palestine
Friday Robert Assaly Letter from Canada: "Captivity led captive" - for some
Noushin Framke Guest Director May 20, 2013
May 15, 2013 marks the 65th anniversary since al-Nakba (the catastrophe). As part of our commemoration of the over 6 decades of dispossession of the Palestinian people, we are featuring a number of education resources.
This photo exhibit commemorates the history of the dispossession of the Palestinian people, through 65 photos.
The exhibit is produced by Canadian Friends of Sabeel with Sabeel Jerusalem (www.sabeel.org)
Click here to download and view the exhibit.
The following information was compiled by Palestinian researcher Salman Abu Sitta.
"This important subject is rarely mentioned, labor camps were indeed set up in Palestine. Typical expulsion pattern of a Palestinian village followed these lines:
The village is attacked and besieged from 3 sides leaving the fourth open to facilitate expulsion. Men and women were separated in two groups. The women with children were expelled to Lebanon, Jenin, Ramallah or Gaza (depending on location) after being stripped of their valuables. Young men, about 20 - 100 in number, were selected, shot and killed in groups of 4 - 6, after an earlier group had been ordered to dig mass graves for them. Other able-bodied men were taken to labor camps. Their immediate task was to bury the dead in other villages, to demolish Arab houses, to remove the debris from already demolished houses and carry salvaged items to Jewish homes. Generally they did arduous and dangerous jobs. They were fed a slice of bread daily. They were kept in crammed concentration camps. Their conditions improved after Red Cross (ICRC) visits.
The International Red Cross visited the labor camps. Their report on 06 February 1949 (No. G59/I/GC), now released 50 years later, gives the following list:
1. Camp No. 791 in Ijlil, near Herzlia, 1991 prisoners, Israeli Commander Mosedale.
2. Camp 792 in Atlit, near Haifa, 1640 prisoners, Israeli Commander Weissbach.
3. Camp 793 in Sarafand, near Ramle, 1360 prisoners, Israeli Commander Rappaport.
4. Camp 794 in Tel Litvinsky, near Tel Aviv, 1310 prisoners, Israeli Commander Kossovsky.
Click here to read more on the Palestinian Forced Labour Camps.
As an exclusive to NECEF Sabeel Canada and Canadian Friends of Sabeel, Dr. Marc Ellis has written an essay on the the current state of affairs in the interfaith dialogue and the new interfaith solidarity networks that are together, pursuing a just and comprehensive peace in Israel / Palestine.
Click here to read Dr. Ellis' essay.Dr. Marc H. Ellis has lectured around the world on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, and is available for lecture tours and other opportunities. He is retired University Professor of Jewish Studies, Professor of History and Director of the Center for Jewish Studies at Baylor University. He is the author of more than 20 books, including Toward a Jewish Theology of Liberation. Currently he is Senior Visiting Professor in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University for Peace in Costa Rica. His daily blog. "Exile and the Prophetic" can be found at www.mondoweiss.net
Dr. Zayid shares his family’s story of the Nakba. He recalls how that catastrophe has had a tremendous impact on his life and led to his engagement as a Palestinian in the diaspora with organizations like NECEF and CFOS.
Click here to read Dr. Zayid's interview.
For more information on Dr. Zayid's story and Al-Nakba, please click here.
1. The Massacre of Sabra & Shatila
From September 16 to 18, 1982, Israeli-backed Lebanese Phalangist (Arabic: al-Kataeb) militiamen entered the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps in West Beirut, and slaughtered at will. Age or gender were never a consideration, as the elderly, women, children and even toddlers became easy prey. The death toll has never been verified, ranging from 800 to 3,500, which is testimony to the destruction wrought by the Phalangists that many bodies were never uncovered.
This was a moment in time, still being lived by Palestinian refugees everywhere and Palestinians living under the cruel occupation.
Click here to read more on the Massacre of Sabra & Shatila.
2. 450,000 Palestinian Refugees face Dire Restrictions in Lebanonby Raed Ayad
The plight of the Palestinians in Lebanon has been lost in the rhetoric of cease-fires and disputed borders. According to UNRWA (United Nations Relief Works Agency), who have been delegated to handle the Palestinian refugee situation since 1949, there are approximately 450,000 registered Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, with an estimated half living in the camps.
Click here to read Mr. Ayad's article.
A word of faith, hope and love from the heart of the Palestinian suffering.
In this historic document, Palestinian Christians declare that the military occupation of their land is a sin against God and humanity. Our word is a cry of hope, with love, prayer and faith in God.
The Bethlehem Call - December 2011
"The Iona Call", Kairos UK - June 2012
“Call to Action: a U.S. Christian response to the Palestine Kairos document.” Kairos USA - June 2012
New! Kairos Palestine video
Photo exhibit commemorating over 60 years of dispossesion.
Jewish Liberation theologian, Dr. Marc Ellis, was recently in Canada on a speaking tour sponsored by Canadian Friends of Sabeel (CFOS) and the Near East Cultural and Educational Foundation (NECEF). Below are 2 videos of interest.
1. Ellis' statement on his current situation at Baylor University.2. Ellis' public lecture - Confronting Israeli Power: Creating a Viable Future for the Palestinian People & a Moral Future for the Jewish People (taped in Toronto).
Canadian Friends of Sabeel7565 Newman Blvd.P.O. Box 3067Station LaPierreLasalle (Montreal), QC H8N 3H2
Canadian Friends of Sabeel (CFOS) is a national support network for Sabeel, Ecumenical Center for Liberation Theology in Jerusalem. Sabeel strives to promote a more accurate international awareness regarding the identity, presence, and witness of Palestinian Christians and the wider Palestinian community, as well as their contemporary concerns. It encourages individuals and groups from around the world to work for a just, comprehensive, and enduring peace informed by truth and empowered by prayer and action.