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The 'Illegal' Bishop of Jerusalem and the Christian EXODUS from the 'Holy' LandEileen Fleming Salem-News.com
"If God would speak today he would say, 'I am fed up with your religion!' The more religion there is; the less spirituality” - Reverend Dr. Mitri Raheb, Pastor in Bethlehem since 1988
(EAST JERUSALEM) - The Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, Reverend Suheil Dawani, has been forbidden to live in Jerusalem because his permit/visa was revoked by Israel’s Interior Ministry.
The Anglican Cathedral and Diocesan offices are located in East Jerusalem, which Israel has occupied since 1967. Israel annexed East Jerusalem and thus claims it as part of the Jewish state’s national territory; but no other country in the world recognizes the annexation as legal.
The state of Israel views Bishop Dawani-and all the indigenous Palestinians of East Jerusalem and their descendants- as foreigners. The state of Israel allows them to ‘visit’ occupied East Jerusalem only if they hold a special residence permit, which Israeli authorities may out rightly deny or might grant and then revoke without giving any reason at all.
The Bishop was born in the West Bank city of Nablus, which has been under Israeli occupation since 1967. He has spent most of his life and ministry there, but the state of Israel refuses his right to obtain citizenship or legal residence.
The state of Israel was founded contingent upon their upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms, “Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.” Article 13.1
Because the Bishop seized that right he remains in Jerusalem without the permit, and he could be arrested for being in Israel illegally and sentenced to prison, or he might be forcibly removed.
Many bishops and other religious clergy who serve in Jerusalem, come from other countries and Israel does not grant any of them citizenship or legal residence, but allows them to remain with visas that must be renewed every year or two and which can also be denied without reason, except for raisons d’état which literally means reason of state; and the Jewish state can do as it pleases without giving any reason at all!
About 2,000 years ago, a Palestinian devout Jew named Jesus, rose up and challenged the job security of corrupt Temple authorities and got himself crucified for disturbing the status quo of the Roman Occupying Forces; for crucifixion was the Roman's method of capitol punishment and the way they rid themselves of agitators, dissidents, rebels and trouble makers.
Fast-forward to 1947 through 2011: and in the land many call Holy, the Christian Exodus of the followers of Jesus have dwindled from 20% of the population in 1947 to less than 1.3% of the entire population today.
Researchers predict that unless things change very soon, Holy Land Churches will be nothing more than museums because there will be no Christian community in the land where Jesus promised it was the Peacemakers who are the children of God.
The reasons why the most well educated and consistently nonviolent members of Palestinian society are fleeing in droves are rooted in the 44 years of military occupation and its resultant lack of economic opportunities, daily humiliations at the over 600 check points that have fragmented the West Bank, Israel’s Wall which divides Palestinians from their land, resources, families and holy sites and the increasing sense of hopelessness that fuels militant fundamentalism within all three branches of Father Abraham's offspring's.
In May of 2005, just prior to my first of seven journeys to Israel Palestine, I phoned Mother Agapia Stephanopolous, a Russian Orthodox nun and the administrator of the Orthodox School of Bethany in Jerusalem, to schedule an appointment for Spiritual Direction and to discuss our mutual feelings about The Wall.
Mother Agapia is the sister of ABC News commentator, George Stephanopolous, and I contacted her because she had passionately and bluntly informed Congress about the nine yards high wall of Israeli concrete that have “shattered” the Christian communities. Mother Agapia also stated:
“Israel is destroying the local Christian community. It is only a matter of time before Christians and Muslims will be unable to survive culturally and economically. I witness the strangulation of East Jerusalem, and the deprivation of her non-Jewish residents’ religious rights every day. Even the United States seems to have been taken in by Israeli spin.”
As I hadn’t been taken in by the spin and was determined to do something, three weeks after that trip, I established WeAreWideAwake.org as my Public Service to America dedicated to confronting a media and governments that shield the whole truth. My mission statement includes my aim to raise awareness about what life is like under military occupation in Palestine and to report on the Christian EXODUS from the Holy Land, from a Theologically Liberated Christian Anarchist POV. Since I established my site on 22 July 2005, over 5.1 million visitors have checked it out; the majority being Government and Military cyber drones who monitor me because I am an agitator, dissident, rebel and trouble maker.
On July 25, 2007, while in the little town of Bethlehem, which is Occupied Territory, I met with Reverend Dr. Mitri Raheb, who was born there and has been the Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas church in Bethlehem since 1988.
Raheb spoke with a passionate urgency, "We are nonviolent but I have problems with nonviolence! People from abroad come here and give us sermons on nonviolence and I appreciate it, but why don't they preach nonviolence to Israel and America?
"It's a miracle that the Palestinians are so nonviolent in spite of the abuse we live with on a daily basis. If you lived here every day you would get fed up too. The world assumes it is the Palestinians who are the violent ones, but nonviolence is who we are. If you operate in a system of violence you will also be violent when you go home.
"Palestinians who throw stones-and many think that is ok, but I say why do that? One day you will throw stones at Palestinians too and that is exactly what happened in Gaza, but the reason is the occupation! Where do you think Hamas learned to torture? In Israeli prisons from their captors! "There is no way to end the violence without first ending the occupation.
“Our Palestinian government was boycotted for a year and a half by America and the EU: this is violence! As long as the violence is exercised against us that is OK with the world. When the Presbyterians talked divestment the Zionist rose up and said 'you can't do that!'
"I started interfaith dialogue in 1985 because Christians should not be islands and you don't dialogue just with yourself, you must dialogue with the other and the biggest temptation for the church is to stay within their walls and only be dedicated to their own members; which leads to a dead church. We are called to go out, and we do not just preach with words, people here are fed up with words; they hear one thing and see another with their eyes.
"They hear peace, peace, peace and for 85 years the politicians have been working for peace and the situation gets worse. Blair, and all the politicians are into PR for themselves; they do nothing for our situation. Blair got himself a good job marketing himself and he will come and go and Israel will continue building the wall, settlements and carving the West Bank into Swiss cheese; Israel gets the cheese and we Palestinians fall into the holes! "Fifty million American dollars went to build the checkpoints to 'make our lives easier' we were told, but these checkpoints and terminals are not for people, they are for cattle!
"We have too much religion and it suffocates us! If God would speak today he would say, 'I am fed up with your religion!' The more religion there is; the less spirituality.” Religion has been used to divide people but spirituality connects all. The first mention of Israel in the Bible is in Genesis 32, when Jacob wrestled, struggled and then clung to the Divine being and was then renamed Israel. This Christian Anarchist Buddhist with a dose of dervish contends that anyone who also struggles and clings to the Ultimate Mystery of the Universe that we call God for a lack of a better word, is Israel too- for Israel is not just a man made 20th century piece of real estate.
Eileen Fleming is the Producer of "30 Minutes with Vanunu" and "13 Minutes with Vanunu" Founder of WeAreWideAwake.org, Eileen is a Feature Correspondent for Arabisto.com, Author of "Keep Hope Alive" and "Memoirs of a Nice Irish American 'Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory" and the soon to be released "BEYOND NUCLEAR: Some of my Experiences of Mordechai Vanunu and the Holy Land: 2005-2010" youtube.com/user/eileenfleming. Eileen is a unique leader in her state and she intends to run for a Florida Congressional seat in the future, to help speed the process of change that is so demanded today. Like many who walk in similar steps, Eileen, like other writers at Salem-News.com, is an outspoken advocate for humanity and she has no tolerance for the oppressive forces of the world.
You can send Eileen Fleming an email at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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