Olive Branch - Issue No. 129 - Saturday, 27 January 2002
Dear Friends, Brothers and Sisters,

We had a very busy week because we hosted the meeting of the representatives of the Bishops Conferences of North America, Canada and Europe who met in Jerusalem to discuss the actual situation and the future of the Christians in the Holy Land. I have already sent you the press releases and the final documents and if you want to see all the other documents and papers presented to them, you can visit my Nonviolence Homepage where you find a full documentation of this meeting. But allow me to share with you my own opinion and impressions:

I admired the courage of the bishops who came in this difficult time to live with us this week, to hear us and to show their solidarity.
We are very grateful to them because they promised to continue their care and concern as their expressed clearly in their message to the Christians of the Holy Land: “In addition, we return home with the request that our national bishops conferences, regional groupings of conferences, and Catholic justice and peace commissions make advocacy on behalf of peace in the Holy Land a priority matter. We shall try to improve the public’s understanding of the issues here and the media’s portrayal of the situation. Among the other proposals we shall bring back to our home churches is to encourage pilgrims to resume visiting the Holy Land and to come to know you “the living stones.” We ourselves will return, as soon as we are able, leading pilgrimages of our faithful”.
When they visited President Moshe Kastav and Chairman Arafat, when they heard Yossi Beilen and DR. Sari Nusseibah, when they met Mr. Ron Schlicher USA general consul and Mr. Manuel Salazar Spanish general consul and dean of the consuls in Jerusalem, they heard several times from them these words: “Please help us to stop violence and to find ways out of this cycle and return back to the table of the negotiations”. I felt that the political leaders are lost and don’t have any vision for the future and they don’t know how to resolve the problem…I felt that they are in a big need of help and they are asking for it. I felt the need for the religious leaders to play their positive and constructive role in order to open the eyes of the politicians and show them the way of peace through justice and reconciliation.
The most astonishing request was the one of Yossi Beilen in which he asked the men of faith to call for days of prayer and fasting worldwide and get involved all the religions together in order to pray for peace.
All of these people repeated the same statement: “Everybody in this region knows that there is no military solution for this conflict, they have to return back to the table of negotiation, but none of the two parts has the courage to surrender and stop the violence, because everybody points his finger to the other and say let him begin and do what he has to do”. It seems to me that this is a conflict between two prides.
The visit was important and constructive for both sides but it needs follow-up in the future in order to implement some of the 15 proposals which was adopted by the bishops and which will be submitted to their respective conferences.As you maybe noticed from the meeting of Alexandria, Jerusalem and Assisi, we see interesting changes in the inter-religious relations. It is wonderful for me that they only met because what we are witnessing now is like a miracle which couldn’t at all happen in the near past. Let’s pray and hope with the Pope that: “Violence never again! War never again! Terrorism never again!  In the name of God, may every religion bring upon the earth justice and peace, forgiveness and life, love!”.

 Fr. Raed Abusahlia
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Personal e-mail: nonviolence@writeme.com
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