A few weeks ago, I had the honor to accompany a delegation of pilgrims from the Holy Land in Jordan to the Holy Land in Palestine where I had spent eleven years (from 1984 to 1995), while pursuing academic education and getting ready for the holy priesthood. Everything there tells you about tradition, history, and unforgettable roots, notably a holy land that is honored to bear this noble name. How pleased I was to witness a thriving religious touristic spring, as hardly any holy site there is without dozens of buses bringing pilgrims from all over the world.
This beautiful image has another facet, namely an exhausted image bearing a heavy Cross, which almost seems to be an endless one. However, the recent events have once again surprised the world, and placed the Palestinian issue on the top of all issues, not only regionally but at the international level as well. The coming days will undoubtedly be very difficult, especially for our brethren in the Gaza Strip. Yet, we hope that this will pressure the major powers to do good and convene with a common view to attain justice and peace.
At the ecclesiastical level, a call has been made to celebrate Sunday Holy Masses to pray for the aspired peace that is definitely absent and seems to be far away. Yet, the Holy Bible guides us to the way to peace, by calling for staying away from evil, doing good, and seeking the attainment of peace. (Psalm 34:14) The hymn that we always reiterate: “O Lord of peace, rain peace upon us; O Lord of peace, grant peace to our country,” is nothing but a call pleading the gift that is dear to all of our hearts, namely peace.
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Pierbattista Pizzaballa, who has been elevated to the rank of cardinal and who will return from Italy via Jordan, has decided to cancel his reception celebrations in Holy Jerusalem, especially in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The Jerusalem patriarchs have issued several statements that denounce violence, and renew the call for peace as well as nonviolent and peaceful solutions. Furthermore, the heads of Churches also called for an end to the violations of human life and of sanctities, both Islamic and Christian, a matter that multiplied recently. Not a week goes by without a new desecration of a house of worship, including mosques and churches, that incorporates attacks and verbal abuse towards pilgrims in the holy streets of Jerusalem. This takes place at a time when some religious Jewish edicts have been issued that consider “spitting” on the followers of other religions to be a good practice, that goes in line with the heart of the edict.
From the Vatican, Pope Francis issued a fervent prayer for peace between Palestine and Israel. He also reaffirmed that violence and bloodshed do not solve problems, but rather lead to the death and suffering of many innocent people.
Peace will remain absent so long that the world acts as if the conflict is a natural form between two equal forces without having the world leaders, their opinion leaders, and their policy makers recall the core of the conflict, which is the occupation that is still crouching on the chest of Palestine which is the basis for every new wave of violence. The international community ought to breathe life into negotiations so that new lives would not be lost, and the Holy Land would not find itself from time to time trapped in new waves of violations of human dignity and bloodshed.
In short: The occupation is the root-cause of the problem. A just solution will only be the panacea for peace and tranquility. This is what confident, calm, and wise Jordanian diplomacy--under the leadership of His Majesty King Abdullah II--calls for, namely restoring the rights to the Palestinian people and then you will find reassurance and peace of mind. Peace in Jerusalem will be a key to peace in the region and the world.