April 7, 2001
Dear friends,

As we approach Holy Week and Easter, the suffering of Jesus Christ at the hands of evil political and religious powers two thousand years ago is lived out again in Palestine. The number of innocent Palestinians and Israelis that have fallen victim to Israeli state policy is increasing.

Here in Palestine Jesus is again walking the via dolorosa. Jesus is the powerless Palestinian humiliated at a checkpoint, the woman trying to get through to the hospital for treatment, the young man whose dignity is trampled, the young student who cannot get to the university to study, the unemployed father who needs to find bread to feed his family; the list is tragically getting longer, and Jesus is there in their midst suffering with them. He is with them when their homes are shelled by tanks and helicopter gunships. He is with them in their towns and villages, in their pains and sorrows.

In this season of Lent, it seems to many of us that Jesus is on the cross again with thousands of crucified Palestinians around him. It only takes people of insight to see the hundreds of thousands of crosses throughout the land, Palestinian men, women, and children being crucified. Palestine has become one huge golgotha. The Israeli government crucifixion system is operating daily. Palestine has become the place of the skull.

Using the Gospel story one can put it in a different and still very poignant way. Four things are clear today. Jerusalem still does not know what makes for peace; Jesus is weeping and his tears are mixed with many other people's tears; the number of people who are carrying their crosses is multiplying phenomenally; and the women of Palestine as well as many Jewish women are weeping over the many killed and wounded innocents. This is the reality of life today.

In the midst of this hopeless and confusing situation, inundated with injustice and death, we refuse to give in to despair. We want to affirm the power of resurrection and life. With St. Paul we can say this Easter, "That I may know him, the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings…" (Philippians 3:10). Our faith in God does not allow us to lose hope. The resurrection of Christ remains the reality that inspires and empowers us. The day will come, and we pray soon, when joy will replace grief, trust will remove fear, justice will triumph over oppression, and reconciliation will supplant alienation. The living Christ is urging us to stand firm and be assured of the inevitability of the resurrection. We will, therefore, continue in our struggle against the evil structures that dominate and oppress. Our hope is in God. The resurrection is coming, and it will bring with it the promise of a new life and liberation for all the people of our land.

We count on your prayers and solidarity. Thank you for your continued support.


Best wishes,

Naim Ateek