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The Problem with USA Churches Is...

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[Nazareth, Israel] Alain Epp Weaver worked for eleven years in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Jordan for the Mennonite Central Committee and as a Representative for Palestine, Jordan and Iraq. He is a prolific writer and is currently a doctoral student in theology at the University of Chicago.

On November 8, 2006 he addressed over 330 International ecumenical Christians against forgetting the past. "When Palestinians make a pilgrimage to their ancestral home sites that were destroyed by the Israeli military beginning in 1948 and when refugees compile memory books we put memory back on the map. These actions are the embodiments of the historians task to destroy the state's policy of re-writing history.

"Because the Western Churches have maintained silence regarding refugees, and fail to critique the human rights violations of Zionist policy and refuse to address the issue of the right to return or restitution: they have failed us.

"With the Western Christian churches being informed by the fundamentalist Christian Zionist mind set that insist all of Palestine belongs to the Jewish people and views the indigenous Palestinian people as usurpers: they fail us.

"The right of return for refugees raises problems the USA churches want to avoid. What must be looked at is the legitimacy of Israel and its exclusiveness policies.

Originally Zionism was a movement to establish a Jewish state, but now the situation is about the legitimacy of Israel. A democracy demands one man should equal one vote. The two solution appeals to two people but fails to look at the state of apartheid Israel has created.

"We must be advocates of the discriminatory practices that deny the right to return and the requirement of land security for landowners. As Christians we must be concerned about reconciliation and a bi-national one state would equate to wholeness; holiness.

"But what is happening now is the continuation of ethnic cleansing; in Jerusalem spouses can't live together! The World Council of Churches spoke out in support for UN Resolution 194; the right to return as the basis and beginning of reconciliation.

"The Churches for Middle East Peace also agree, but they continue to support the two state solution. The Geneva Initiative avoids the issue of Zionism as an ideology."

In 1948 the churches did get involved in the ethnic cleansing of Ailaboun in the Galilee. Because of their swift and decisive involvement the indigenous people of Ailaboun returned one month after being forced from their land.

Ailaboun was the first and only Christian community to be repatriated because they made a loud noise with the church in Lebanon and the USA Embassy. Because of their fierce urgency and loud insistence a UN investigative team proved that the indigenous people had been the victims of Zionist terrorism. The dead bodies of the villagers showed no signs of resistance, they had all been cold bloodedly murdered. The UN investigators affirmed that the villagers were unarmed and that masses of bodies were piled up in a cemetery. One of the UN Diplomats, Bernadatte, who had a plan to address the acts of Zionist terrorism was assassinated.

Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, is an Auxiliary Bishop and Patriarchal Vicar General of Israel who serves in Haifa. He stated, "We are united by love, unity, hope. We are in Nazareth and are all brothers and sisters. Nazareth is where 2,000 years ago the Word of God became man. Here began the new Kingdom of God, the new man, the new church: everything started all over again and God still dwells with us.

"If you are a Christian it is because something from heaven came down to Nazareth and spread all over the world, which is the Mystery of union of man with God. In Galilee today there still is the living presence of God.

"In the Gospel of St. Matthew, when Jesus heard that John was put in prison, he returned to the Galilee. He went by the way of the sea and the people in darkness have seen a great light. Jesus preached the need for all to repent for the kingdom of heaven is already here.

"Galilee means to go around. 2,000 years ago this was a country of Jews, pagans and many others; a mixed population. We are still mixed. In Galilee we have different categories of Christian communities. There is the local Palestinian Hebrew speaking community of about 300. There are Christian foreign workers, about 60,000 international Christians live and work in Israel. There is also the Russian Christian community of at least 150,000.

"We have five gospels. Four are in the Bible the 5th is the land; it is another gospel and an opportunity to understand the message of Christ. The local Palestinian community has been here for 2,000 years. Our community is made up of the descendants of the first community founded by Christ. We are the Mother Church. The best definition of Galilee is the living memory of Jesus. Our very existence is as Arabs, and we are Palestinians. That word itself comes from the Philistines and we are all citizens of Israel. We are Arab, Palestinian, Christian and a citizen of Israel, which is not easy to put together. Everything concerns us, but it is not the same here as in the occupied territories.

"Our problem is we don't know exactly what we are! We are not even sure what we should do, for our problem is one of identity. We are a minority inside of a minority inside of a Jewish majority! We live among Jews, Muslims and Druze. Only two all Christian communities are left in the Galilee. Muslims and Druze do not live together unless there is a Christian presence, we are the glue.

"The Christians are emigrating at a rapid rate. Pope John Paul said, 'The universal church cannot think about the idea that one day there will only be holy sites without living stones. It is the responsibilty of the universal church to prevent this.'

"It was here in Nazareth that Christ proclaimed,

The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.

"Officially there is freedom of movement and expression. There are three Christians in the Knesset. Officially there is protection and rights. But practically it is a very different situation. Israel is a Jewish state, so non-Jews are citizens of another class. There is a major conflict between what is a democracy and the state of Israel. We have big problems because we are not treated as equals.

"In 1993, there was a Fundamental Agreement; a diplomatic agreement between Israel and the Catholic Church. The principals are all excellent, but in practice it is not the same.

"We have many problems with the state of Israel but not with the Jewish people! We have been forgotten politically and there are certain Christian communities in the USA; yes, the Zionist movement which is bad news for Christians in Israel and Palestine. I read in the paper about a preacher named John Hagee who came to Israel with 20 million Christians and we never saw one of them! The Christian community never received a penny from those USA Christians. They have a certain and peculiar way of reading the gospel, they are a dangerous movement. When they think to do something for the Holy Land, do they ever consider the Christian community? NO! We suffer greatly from that, it encourages Christian emigration, and enforces the difficulty with our identity.

"We need to change the politics, but can we? I don't know. But what we can do together is to not be afraid! Here in Nazareth the angel said to Mary after giving her the strange news: FEAR NOT! The Holy Spirit will be upon you and will be with you. That is our challenge to be united and not afraid."
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Eileen Fleming,is a Citizen of CONSCIENCE for US House of Representatives 2012 Founder of Staff Member of, A Feature Correspondent for Producer "30 Minutes with Vanunu" and "13 Minutes with Vanunu" (more...)
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