Monday, January 30, 2012

Global Day of Action to open Hebron's Shuhada Street

Tammie Danielsen, accompanier with EAPPI in Hebron, writes "...trusting your solidarity, and this is one of more important times to show your solidarity with the Palestinians." We need organizers for the global day in USA. I have edited the bulletin (below) from Youth Against Settlements, just a little.  Go to Open Shuhada Street for good information about the situation in Hebron.


"Youth Against Settlements" ( invites you to participate in the 3rd annual Global Day of Action to Open Shuhada (Apartheid) Street!

Contact Avital, one of the main organizers for the global day in the USA:

This year, Palestinian activists in Hebron are planning a week of activities to commemorate the Baruch Goldstein Massacre and demand the opening of Shuhada Street. The planned activities in Hebron include a photo exhibition about the Ibrahim Mosque Massacre and Non-violent Resistance in Palestine, a tour for Israeli Parliament Members (if Possible ), screening of a film about Shuhada Street, a presentation about the Apartheid system in Hebron, a main demonstrationm and visit to families of the massacre victims and families in H2. 

As we have done for the past few years, we urge all people who are against Israeli Apartheid in Hebron to organize solidarity actions on February 25, 2012.   Below is a list of suggested solidarity actions that we hope you will consider: 

1. Demonstrations, Marches, Vigils, Flashmobs
2. Presentations about Apartheid in Hebron
3. Photo Exhibitions concerning Apartheid in Hebron
4. Twitter: Use this hashtag #OpenShuhadaSt to spread the word and educate the masses about Hebron.  This is especially important during the week of actions.
5.Video Message: Create and send video messages to community forums, media, and social media outlets urging the international community to use diplomatic pressure to
re-open Shuhada Street.
6. Letter-writing and Petitions to the Israeli Ambassador and elected officials in your country asking them to intervene
7.Write letters to the Palestinian Families in Hebron to show solidarity
8.Close roads to show the public the effects of closing the main road in Hebron.
9.Visit Hebron to gain an understanding of the situation and the daily suffering of the people living there.
10. Any other non-violent activity you feel supports the cause; be as creative as possible!!

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About the Hebron Weekly Demonstration: Open Shuhada Street 
Shuhada Street is the main street connecting the southern and the northern parts of the City of Hebron. For the past 16 years, this street has been closed to Palestinian pedestrians and vehicles. Israel has also forced the closure of Palestinian shops and sealed shut the entrances to Palestinian homes along the street. 

The city of Hebron is home to approximately 200,000 Palestinians. 600 Israeli settlers, supported by a large number of Israeli Military, now inhabit and control the heart of the Old City. The Israeli military severely restrict the movement of tens of thousands of Palestinian residents. However, the settlers have total freedom of movement, despite their presence being illegal under international law. They can both walk and drive vehicles through the Palestinian neighbourhoods. Shuhada Street is the most important thoroughfare in the area. 

On Shuhada Street, all the shops and the majority of the houses are owned by Palestinians. The merchants of the street have incurred tremendous losses due to the street closure. In addition, Israel had welded shut all the Palestinian houses’ doors on the street, completely ignoring the rights of the Palestinian citizens living behind these doors. Residents have to jump over their back yards’ walls to get in and out of their houses. Those that cannot do this have had no choice but to abandon their homes as they have no way of accessing them. 

The act of closing the street was taken arbitrarily without any legal justification from the Israeli occupation forces.  The "safety of the settlers" was the only excuse given, despite the fact that the settlers’ presence in Hebron is illegal and based on the confiscation of Palestinian properties, and the fact that the settlers are outnumbered by the heavily armed soldiers who are there to stand guard over them. The closure of Shuhada Street is simply a part of the Israeli strategy to ethnically cleanse Hebron of its Palestinian population.

[Press: for more information please contact :]

Please reply to let us know how you plan to participate!
Thank you!
Open Shuhada Street Coalition

Youth Against Settlements is a national Palestinian non-partisan activist group which seeks to end Israeli colonization activities in Palestine (building and expanding settlements) through non-violent popular struggle and civil disobedience.

For more about Tammie's work in Hebron through EAPPI, see her blog: LivingStonesof Palestine.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Lutheran Bishop Younan Calls the Church to Remain Steadfast, Hopeful, and Prophetic

Two news stories from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), both give us reason to celebrate and remain in prayer for all the people of the Holy Land.  A.

Bishop Younan Calls Church to Remain Steadfast, Hopeful, and Prophetic
[Click the headline for access to links with photos and more.]

JERUSALEM, 25 January 2012 – Worshippers from nearly every Christian tradition crowded into the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in the Old City of Jerusalem last evening to mark day four of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
Together, those gathered celebrated a Service of the Word in Arabic, German, and English with Bishop Dr. Munib Younan, of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), preaching.

In his sermon, Younan reflected on the centrality of the cross of Christ not as doctrine or decoration, but as the very way of life, unity, history, experience, and call in the church—not only in the past, but in the present life and witness of the church in society.

“The church today is again called to be bridge-builders and ambassadors of reconciliation.” Younan said. “We are called to play a role in building a modern civil society, but also to inject into society the common values of all religions that promote coexistence, peace, and justice, and accepting the other. We are called to a prophetic role, speaking the truth to power. Only when the church is involved in society, and especially among the suffering, then it will have a future.”

Younan spoke to recent articles published questioning the survival of Arab Christianity in the aftermath of the Arab Spring and developments in the Middle East that point toward a growth in extremism and threaten to curtail human rights, in particular women’s rights.

Yet, Younan said, “even in these circumstances, we will continue to be steadfast and not emigrate. For we are a people who carry a message—a message of love, a message of moderation, a message of undying hope—a message entrusted to us that is so essential in these days as the situation in the entire Middle East continues to develop. We are called to remain because the Lord called us to be brokers of justice and instruments of peace in the Holy Land.”

Younan called on the local Christian community to “Remain steadfast. Do not give up hope. Remember your calling. Be a source for moderation in the midst of a sea of extremism.”

Younan also called upon expatriate and global Christian communities to “take up your crosses in an accompaniment relationship with the local churches. Walk with us as the Emmaus disciples and Jesus walked together on that first Easter afternoon, listening to one another, learning about the current situation in Jerusalem… Come abide with us. Come share our bread. Come and see.”

Younan closed his sermon with a call to “live and witness in this spirit of the resurrection that started from Jerusalem. Let us revive our conviction that the things that unite us as Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical are much more those that divide us. Let us put aside our differences and listen to the voice calling to us to be his witnesses in Jerusalem and in the whole world.”

The service was a joint service of the Arabic-speaking, German-speaking and English-speaking congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer. As well, all pastors of the Lutheran and Reformed traditions were invited to take part in the leadership of the service.

In all, there were representatives participating in worship from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), the Church of Norway, the Church of Scotland, the Church of Sweden, and the United Church of Christ.

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ELCJHL Breaks Ground on New Church at Baptismal Site
[Click the headline for access to links with photos and more.]

JORDAN/JERUSALEM, 16 January 2012 – On the Feast of Epiphany, 6 January, ELCJHL members and leaders gathered at the Baptismal Site at Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan to celebrate the ground breaking for the new Evangelical Lutheran Pilgrimage and Retreat Center at Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan.

Celebrations began with a service of Holy Communion by the Jordan River with Bishop Younan preaching and presiding, and Pastor Mitri Raheb, pastor in Bethlehem and President of the Synod; Pastor Sani Ibrahim Azar, pastor in Jerusalem; and Pastor Samer Azar, pastor in Amman assisting.

In his sermon, Younan celebrated the gift of Baptism and reminded those gathered of our shared baptismal calling:
“In Lutheran theology we baptize infants according to our understanding of Baptism as a gift of God given through grace by faith, and not because of our works. In Baptism we carry Christ and becomes heirs, with Christ, of the promises of God. To this gift of grace and promise the whole church has been continuously witnessing.”

“And we Arab Christians, too, have carried this witness for 2,000 years. Our existence has always been a call to be apostles of love to the world and to be integrally involved in our society, in which God has called us to carry out the call of our Baptism as living witnesses to ourselves and to others.”

“Because of our covenant of Baptism we have stood steadfast in this place, as we have stood steadfast to our calling to be instruments of peace, brokers of justice, defenders of truth, advocates for the voiceless, promoters of human rights, including the rights of children and women, and ministers of reconciliation in service for the sake of all humanity.”

“Today, we renew our baptismal covenant and witness again to the manifestation of God, by the Holy Spirit, through Christ Jesus, and to the love of God, through which we are all called. And we break ground today as we begin to build this new church to the glory of God and the service of all Christians—not only Lutherans—who wish to come to this place to pray and renew their baptismal promises.”

The land for this project was granted the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the ELCJHL in 2008 and visioning and architectural planning has been underway since then.
The new Evangelical Lutheran Pilgrimage and Retreat Center will be one of twelve churches built at the site that aims to focus on the spiritual, historical, and environmental aspects of the area, with special emphasis given to:
•the rootedness of Christianity both in the history and in present-day life in Jordan,
•the deep ecumenical relationships between the local churches, and
•the strong interfaith relationships on both individual, community and leadership levels.

Mr. Nayef El-Fayez, Minister of Tourism, was present on behalf His Highness Prince Ghazi, the Special Advisor to the King on Religious Affairs, for the service and groundbreaking, speaking words of welcome and encouragement to the ELCJHL.
Others present included Mr. Akel Baltaji, a Senator in the Jordanian House of Senate; Mr. Ghazi Musharbash, a Representative in the Jordanian Parliament; and Father Nabil Haddad, from the Board of Trustees of the Baptismal Site.

Mr. Nabil Zaki Goussous, Principal Architect at NZG Architects, has served as architect on the project.

With construction beginning soon, the ELCJHL hopes to have the Pilgrimage and Retreat Center finished before next year, and to hold the consecration of the site on the next Feast of Epiphany on 6 January 2013.

Bishop Younan invited all present this day to return in one year, and extended an invitation to “all Lutheran churches, both the local congregations of the ELCJHL and the global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition to… come on the 6th of January to celebrate the Feast of Epiphany at the Baptismal Site at Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan in the spirit of love and ecumenism.”

The ELCJHL gives thanks for the generous support given and pledged by various international partners, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) working closely with the OSMTH, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland for their grant, and many other friends of the ELCJHL.

Funds given in the US may be directed through the ELCA Global Gifts “ELCJHL Baptismal Site Project”. Donations from other countries abroad can be directed to the ELCJHL.
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New EU Report says Two-State Solution Threatened by Israeli Policies in Area C

Friends, ELCA Peace Not Walls sent this important information. 

New EU Report says Two-State Solution Threatened by Israeli Policies in Area C

Demolition in Palestine
Another home demolition in Palestine, photo by Chris Cowan

A new report by the European Union leaked to journalists says that the possibility of a two-state solution is getting more and more remote as Israeli policies of population transfer and demolition of homes continue. An article by the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz says that ”the report stated that Israeli policy in Area C ‘results in forced transfer of the native population,’” which is illegal under the Geneva Conventions and other international laws.

Area C is part of a division of the West Bank stipulated by the Oslo Accords: Area A, where the Palestinian Authority has full civilian and security control, although Israeli incursions and closures are still controlled by Israel; Area B, which is those parts of the West Bank that come under Israeli security control and Palestinian civilian control; and Area C, which is territories under full Israeli civilian and security control. All of areas A, B and C are considered Palestinian territory under international law.

In another article on the report in the UK Independent, it claims “the 16-page document is the EU’s starkest critique yet of how a combination of house and farm building demolitions; a prohibitive planning regime; relentless settlement expansion; the military’s separation barrier; obstacles to free movement; and denial of access to vital natural resources, including land and water, is eroding Palestinian tenure of the large tract of the West Bank on which hopes of a contiguous Palestinian state depend.”

The article describes what’s in the report:

“It says the EU needs “at a political” level to persuade Israel to redesignate Area C, but in the meantime it should “support Palestinian presence in, and development of the area”. The report says the destruction of homes, public buildings and workplaces result in “forced transfer of the native population” and that construction is effectively prohibited in 70 per cent of the land – and then in zones largely allocated to settlements of the Israeli military.

In practice, it says Palestinian construction is permitted in just 1 per cent of Area C, “most of which is already built up”. The EU report’s short- and medium-term recommendations include calling on Israel to halt demolitions of houses and structures built without permits – of which there have been 4,800 (in Area C alone) since 2000. But there is also a call for the EU to support a building programme that includes schools, clinics, water and other infrastructure projects.

The EU should also be more vocal in raising objections to “involuntary population movements, displacements, evictions and internal migration”.

For more information about Area C, click here.For more information about Palestinian home demolitions, see the website of the Israeli Committee against Home Demolitions.
For the United Nations agency UNWRA’s call to stop home demolitions, click here.

For stories on the ground, see the blogs of recent and current US Ecumenical Accompaniers Chris Cowan and Tammie Danielsen. Chris served in Hebron and the Southern Hebron Hills area last year and Tammie is serving there now through the US Program of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme for Palestine and Israel, a peace program begun by the World Council of Churches.

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