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INTENSITY OF PALESTINIAN TRAUMA REPORTED BY CHRISTIANS
[with thanks to a Christian reader, Sis. Doris.]
HOLY LAND CHRISTIAN ECUMENICAL FOUNDATION (HCEF) Conference
October 18-19, 2002, at National Presbyterian Church, Washington, DC
The conference was opened with a call to have each church in the US
with a church in the Holy Land; and to have each student in Christian
in the HL sponsored by someone here. Pictures and bios of students were
available in the lobby; attendees were asked to pledge $300 per year in
to keep these students in the schools, which have suffered immense
burdens since the military invasion of the Occupied Territories.
Father Alex Kratz, archdiocese of Detroit (currently living and working
the HL) reported on the current hopelessness of the Palestinian people.
"Children no longer dare to dream, because all their dreams have been
shattered, and they don’t even know if they will have a home or be
has destroyed everything outside and in us." People don't
die so much from hunger as hopelessness. (Contrast this with the somewhat
upbeat tenor of last year's conference, which took place just as the
first invasion of Bethlehem occurred.)
Brother Vincent, of the Univ. of Bethlehem (Christian), with 2,150
Palestinian Arab students, 32% Christian, 68% women. This Univ. was
times by Is. military order from 1987-1990. The residence of the 12
has taken 100 bullets, and has caused considerable expense to repair
Fr. Vincent was used as a human shield by Is. soldiers when approaching
a building suspected of harboring "terrorists." Students and faculty have
under curfew = house arrest = prisoners, and are traumatized. The loss of
freedom of movement even when not under curfew is time-consuming and
humiliating. A permit is needed to go from one village to another.
applying for a permit to attend a conference out of the country never
if or when the permit will be received; sometimes it is received a day
after the conference is to begin.
Fr. Majdi Siryani had planned to attend this conference and had applied
months ago for a visa. He finally was told that he could leave, but that he
could not come back. This constant living in uncertainty is a constant
stress. Ordinarily a letter from our president facilitates matters, but
no letter was provided this year, which is unusual.
Statistics: 1,089 schools closed at times for various reasons. 216
killed; 2,500 injured; 164 arrested. There is a lot of anger, outrage,
mixed with overwhelming mourning.
Propaganda is used to justify what is unjust.
Hon. Hanna Nasser, Catholic, Mayor of Bethlehem. Born in Bethlehem; on
PLO committee for negotiations with the Vatican. Most Christians in the
appear to be unaware of the indigenous Christians in the HL. Christians
to be 18% of the total population in Palestine; now 2%. Christians were
95% in Bethlehem; now 40% . Israeli aggression does not differentiate
Muslim and Christian in their efforts to "encourage" non-Jews to leave.
Professor Jad Isaac, Director General, Applied Research Institute,
Prof. Isaac used maps, aerial photos and diagrams to describe the
economic and demographic impact of illegal Israeli settlements, bypass
roads, military camps, industrial sites and checkpoints on the civil and
life of the West Bank and Gaza. 64 different bantustans (similar to South
Africa) have been created by separation of Palestinian villages from
settlements and the bypass roads (for Jews and foreigners only) which
these settlements to each other and to Israel. A move is now afoot in
colleges and universities in the US to have their institutions divest
themselves of any investments they have with Israel, similar to what
was done with South Africa.
Since Sharon came to power, settlements have been expanded and new ones
instituted, plus 117 "outposts." These outposts, consisting of one or two
trailers, are sometimes removed for propaganda purposes; Sharon is then
applauded by the US for removing three or four settlements, where in
fact nothing has been done. Palestinians are constantly excoriated for not
adhering to the Oslo Accords because they continue their violence,
whereas Israel is given a pass for violating their agreement to cease their
settlement activity, which is of course the major cause of the problem.
Israelis have a tremendous incentive to settle in Palestinian territory—they
get tax exemptions, subsidies, and the US provides funds for separation
walls and barbed wire (as well as weapons) to keep them safe. Citrus groves
and olive groves have been bulldozed so that roads can be built connecting
these settlements and Israel.
Bethlehem is currently being walled in, so that it has no access to
Jerusalem. Pictures of Jenin (before and after) show the extent of damage
inflicted by the Israelis, who then denied access for UN investigators.
The walls being built are not on the 1967 borders, but rather inside the
Occupied Territories, placed so as to incorporate 3 acquifers. Israel
allocates an extremely disproportionate amount of water to itself—485
vs. 115 for Palestinians; and Palestinians get nothing from the Jordan
Rev. Dr. Michael Prior, chair of Living Stones of the Holy Land Trust, UK,
spoke about a great anomaly of Christianity: there is support for other
oppressed of the world, but not for Christian Palestinians. Christians
content to see the end of Christians in the HL, Christ's birthplace. In
some "Christians" appear eager to have the Jews rid themselves of all
Palestinians by whatever means so that the Second Coming of Christ may
occur. Their God appears to be a military genocidal tyrant, who see ethnic
cleansing as fulfillment of God's prophesy.
Rev. Dr. Victor Pentz, Pastor, Peachtree Presbyterian Church, Atlanta,
also referred to the Christian Zionists of having bad theology. The Old
promises as to return to the land for Jews is nowhere repeated in the
New Testament. Jesus fulfills all promises of the OT. We need to
heroism of our Mother Church in the HL just for surviving under horrific
conditions. The Jews support Israel, Muslims support the Palestinian
Muslims; it is only the Christian Church which ignores its people.
Ms. Claudette Habasch, Director, Caritas Int., Jerusalem, spoke
the plight of the children, saying that they are being contaminated by
unprecedented brutal measures. It has become a basic question of
perishing or surviving.
Dr. Viveca Hasboun, MD, Adult-Child Psychiatrist, was born in Palestine, then
moved to the US, then back to work in Palestine (she is classified as a
tourist, even though having been born in Palestine). She spoke of the
privation of the Palestinian people under the Israeli curfew: 45% of
the population in Gaza suffers from malnutrition; 54% suffer from trauma;
70% of children are now bedwetting; 30% of children display aggressive
Some have become sociopaths, who try to get rid of their pain by inflicting
it on others (projection identity). A couple examples of trauma: 1) a
who lost her hair was able, through therapy, to have it grow back; 2) a
child whose mother assured her that she would be safe if she stayed in a
certain room became mute when a bullet then went through right in front of
could no longer trust even her mother; 3) children now draw pictures of
barbed wire, iron bars, dead people. Sleep is being intruded upon by
all the atrocities. The children no longer express any wishes, which Dr.
is a more serious condition than cancer or any malignancy. A familiar
cry: why hast thou forsaken me?
Mother Agapia, Administrator, Orthodox School of Bethany, lives and
a mostly Muslim area, and finds them to be unfailingly hospitable and
gracious. Their lives are shattered though; there used to be a "leak in
the tire of optimism," but now, since Sharon went to the Temple Mount, the
went flat. The economy is bad; they are edging toward anarchy. There is
constant danger from the settlers; bombs have been placed in school yards,
and the Israeli government says they do not have the soldiers to
Palestinians from the settlers because they are occupied in
perpetuating the curfews.
The injustice of the situation is tolerable; the thing that is
that the truth is not being allowed to be known. A striking example of
Lives of Palestinians do not seem to count for much as
compared to Israelis.
Dearwood Simon, a commentator, observed that the killing often seems so
wanton and unprovoked. Palestinians have been trying for a long time to
get international observers so that their voice can be heard, but the
Israelis say no, and so nothing is done.
When children are denied nutritionally in their formative years, it
only their physical well-being but also their mental development. This
situation is occurring in
and now in Palestine.
Rev. Dr. Donald Wagner, spoke of the Christian
as being strange
bedfellows, who are traditionally almost anti-semitic, but have made
peace with these feelings in their anxiety to have Armageddon happen. They
have shifted the covenant from the Church to Israel.
will be blessed to
the degree that we protect and support Israel." This fundamentalist
movement used to have Russia as an enemy, but has now shifted to
Israel is happy to go along with this group at long as the funds and other
support are rolling in ("we keep them on a very short leash," says Sharon),
even though at Armageddon, the CZs say that all Jews will either be
killed or converted to Christianity.
The power of the CZs is exemplified by the Israeli bombing of the Iraqi
nuclear plant in 1981. The first person to be advised of this in the US
was Jerry Falwell, so that he could work his magic in getting this action
approved by the public.
Michal Terazi, Ph.D., Advisor to the Palestinian Authority, offered
news and some bad news; he would present the good news first. Oddly
the good news, according to him, are the obstacles to peace which are
continually cited: 1) Jerusalem, 2) settlements, and 3) refugees. These
obstacles could be easily solved, he maintains.
Jerusalem: could be designated an open city, with free access to all.
Settlements: Most people live in settlements since it is cheap to live
there because of all the subsidies. If the subsidies were removed, it is
that all but the most extreme Zionists would move back to Israel. Those
who remain could be issued green cards; or they could become Palestinian
citizens. There is no problem in Palestine as to different religions
living together (on a harmonious basis) as there is in the Jewish state.
Israel’s fundamental fear is losing the Jewishness of their state.
Refugees: Palestinian refugees could stay where they are; e.g., Jordan and
Lebanon, if arrangements are made for their citizenship. Or—they could
go to a third country; e.g, Canada, which has offered to take them. Or—they
could come back to a Palestinian state. Or—they could return to their
original homes in what is now Israel. Israel fears that most would opt for the
latter, but this is highly doubtful since the landscape has been changed so
All of the above has been discussed, and needs only a good push to
The bad news is the inability of the Israelis to recognize that Christians
and Muslims have a right to live in the HL. They do not see them as
equals. "We threaten their demographics."
The Camp David peace plan was definitely not a "generous" offer. It offered
only the equivalent of bantustans, or Am. Indian reservations. All the
power and control was still to be with the Israelis. The so-called State
which is now being offered is not worth having.
"In 1948 they took the meat and left the bones; now they have come back
to take the bones; i.e., agricultural land and water."
Labels: "illegal settlements" are now spoken of as "Jewish neighborhoods."
Palestinians are "terrorists" because they resort to suicide bombing
which targets civilians, whereas Israel targets civilians (all Palestinians
are civilians, by the way) with more sophisticated weaponry.
The idea of two states is at present moot because of the settlements. A
viable Palestinian state is not likely to be offered, in which case
there are only two options: one is to have one State, with equal rights for
Palestinians (OK, annex us, but give us full citizenship), and the other is
ethnic cleansing, similar to what the Jews encountered in Nazi Germany.
Israel has gone along with a lot of barbarous behavior with the excuse
of "security." There are many Jews who are ashamed of being Israelis, but
no Palestinians are ashamed of being Palestinian, despite the suicide
International Solidarity Movement. It has often been suggested that
Palestinians should practice Ghandian civil disobedience, but this
if the public is made aware of it. The first intifada was practiced
with children throwing stones and burning tires in the road to keep the
Israelis out of their territory; this was beginning to actually have an
effect until Israel allowed Arafat back from exile in Tunis, and he
the movement for his advantage. The present situation is different.
are barred from certain areas, and what they do report rarely reaches the
masses here in the US. Palestinians (and even foreign observers) have been
shot by Israeli soldiers when they ventured out of their homes in
of the curfew; and very little notice is taken of this. "We are being
killed like birds and animals every day without accountability"
Rev. Dr. Fahed Abu-Akel, Moderator for the Presbyterian Church, told the
following story as an example of how 15 million Arab Christians do not
exist in the American psyche. He was being interviewed by
and was referred to
as a Muslim, despite the title Reverend, and his having just prayed to
He appealed again for every church in Palestine to have a sister church
in the U.S.
NOTE: The above report is not to discount the suffering which Israelis are
also experiencing. It is however to suggest that, since Israel has all the
power, that it is up to it to allow a solution, with justice for the
Palestinians, who have already given up over 78% of their original
homeland. If Israel has a right to exist, then surely so does Palestine.
2002-11-09 Sat 15:20ct