DAY 1 Sabeel's
6th International Conference: The Forgotten Faithful/Palestinian Christians
Sabeel is rooted in Palestinian soil and seeks to make the gospel of Jesus
Christ relevant in the 21st century to Christians in the land where The
Prince of Peace walked and preached the good news that God is within all
people. To truly follow Christ means one will rise up/intifada for the
oppressed, the outcast, the widow, the orphan, the poor, the prisoner and
the refugees and pursue justice: which is the only way to peace. Sabeel
challenges and empowers the Palestinian Christians with hope that by
building and nurturing a healthy community a strong civil society will
The Christians of the Holy Land have decreased from 20% of the total
population to less than 1.3% since 1948. 90% of Christian pilgrims to the
Holy Land never even meet any Palestinian Christians; thus they are known as
The Forgotten Faithful.
Over 330 Internationals gathered yesterday in Jerusalem at the Notre Dame
conference center to begin our journey and education of the past and to face
the present realities.
Prior to 1948, 70% of West Jerusalem was Palestinian. From '48 to '67,
Jerusalem was divided into Israeli West Jerusalem and Palestinian East under
Jordan's control. When Israel captured and occupied the West Bank in 1967,
the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem were also redefined. Israel annexed
the greater Jerusalem area but did not 'adopt' the Palestinian residents of
East Jerusalem as Israeli citizens.
Today, Palestinians living in Jerusalem are classified differently from
those in the West Bank. They are called permanent residents, they can vote
in local elections but not in Israeli national elections. Most do not bother
to vote as a statement against the occupation.
Jerusalem in nearly 100% Jewish. The Palestinians in East Jerusalem pay the
same taxes as those on the West side, but receive only 8% of the total
municipal budget. Orthodox Jews pay no taxes. Palestinians make up 1/3 of
the total Jerusalem population, but pay over 40% of the taxes. One is
immediately aware when one walks from the East to the West, that one is
truly in two different worlds. On the West side of town there are many
parks, the roads and streets are well maintained and sanitation pick up is
predictable. Twenty-six of the thirty-one City Council members of Jerusalem
are Orthodox Jews. The East side of Jerusalem is more like the lower east
side of New York.
While the Israeli government considers Jerusalem the capitol of Israel no
foreign country does. There are no international embassies in Jerusalem,
except for a fundamentalist International Christian Zionist one.
The Wall that was begun after the Second Intifada has expanded the municipal
boundaries established in 1967 and the Israeli settlements/colonies are
growing unabated. According to International Law all the settlements are
illegal and the world is silent. In the 1930's Ben Gurion said that the
settlements will define the boundaries of Israel.
Jeff Halper, 2006 Noble Peace Prize nominee and founder and coordinator of
ICHAD stated, "Israel has set up a matrix of control; a thick web of
settlements guaranteed to make the occupation permanent by establishing
facts on the ground. Israel denies there is an occupation, so everything is
reduced to terrorism. It is our job to insist upon the human rights issue,
for occupied people have International Law on their side. [WAWA Note-
International Law guarantees the rights of the occupied to rise up with
violence against their occupiers. What ISM, ICAHD and Sabeel promote is
When Jerusalem was controlled by Jordan, the East side was 6 sq. km. Since
1967, Israel has added 64 km. The West side was 38 sq. km until '67 and is
now 108 sq. km's. Israel plans to develop 17 settlements. Israeli policy is
to maintain a 72% Jewish and 28% Arab population. Palestinians cannot get
building permits to build upon their legally owned land. The Arab land has
been re-zoned as green space, and the green space will be re-zoned for the
Every single Palestinian home in Jerusalem has a demolition order. The
entire West Bank has been zoned as agricultural land by Israel, and that
will also be re-zoned again for more settlements.
"It has been said that the Israeli's do not love this land, they just want
to possess it. There have been three stages to make this occupation
permanent. The first was to establish the facts on the ground; the
settlements. There are ½ million Israeli's and four million Palestinians
here. They have been forced into bantusans; trunkated mini states; prison
states. It is apartheid and Bush and Hillary are both willing collaborators.
In 1977, Sharon came in with a mandate, money and resources to make the
Israeli presence in the West Bank irreversible. The second stage began in
April 2004 when America approved the Apartheid/Convergence/Realignment Plan
and eight settlement blocs. This is just like South Africa! The Bush Sharon
letter exchange guaranteed that the USA considers the settlements
non-negotiable. The Convergence Plan and The Wall create the borders and
that is what defines bantusans.Congress ratified the Bush plan and only
Senator Byrd of West Virginia voted no and nine House Representatives."-Jeff
Orwellian doublespeak has also been employed in the USA to turn the illegal
colonies into "neighborhoods". A new highway has already begun to link all
the settlements. The Eastern Ring Road will have bridges for Israelis but is
just another wall against the Palestinians.
The settlements will ring around the Old City of Jerusalem."I don't just
have a political problem with this Judiaization of the Old City, it is
ecologically and environmentally offensive."-Jeff Halper
I add it also is spiritually impoverished. The raping and pillaging of what
is claimed holy ground refutes and denies the biblical meaning of dominion.
The ancients understood dominion meant to nurture, love and protect and the
destruction of Palestinian homes, the stealing of their legal property,
their water is an abomination.
God require? He has already told you o'man! Be just, be merciful and
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Eileen is a
retired RN, activist, author, poet, reporter and editor for the WAWA Blog:
www.wearewideawake.org She returns to the West Bank in November 2006 and
will be reporting on WAWA.