Issued by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media - Jordan. Editor-in-chief Fr. Rif'at Bader - موقع أبونا

Published on Wednesday, 15 June 2022

Walking in the streets of Jerusalem

Fr. Dr. Rif'at Bader :

I woke up early in the morning in East Jerusalem, where I spent  several days at the Latin Patriarchate near the historic Jaffa Gate. I went to wander through the streets before the shops open. Priests and nuns were going to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, bearing witness to the sanctity of every stone from the City of Holiness. There were armed soldiers who bear witness to the reality of the occupation that has not ended.


You inhale history, its fragrance, and its holiness with the aroma of coffee here and there, or the famous Jerusalem falafel, contemplate the reality and try to anticipate the future. I met several people during this visit including families, church employees, or old friends at a time when the wounds are still bleeding. But everyone near Jaffa Gate, especially a month ago, is proud that "Shireen" had raised their morale despite the pain caused by separation, sadness and anger over her tragic departure, and the inhumane assault on her dead body which was carried on the shoulders of Palestinians of different regions and religions. I visited her tomb, prayed there, and pleaded for the Lord's mercy and for her turn to pray from the open Kingdom of God for the martyrs in order to awaken the conscience so that her death would not be a transient issue but rather a cause to exert sincere efforts for the attainment of peace for bringing about  a permanent and a just solution for the Palestinian people.


I felt the people's great appreciation for the honorable role played by Jordan, namely its leadership and people, who never abandoned their duty to remind the world of the right that this people should acquire after a long suffering. There is appreciation for His Majesty the King's honoring of the late Shireen through her brother on Jordan's Independence Day, and for the prominent Jordanian role played in preserving Islamic and Christian sanctities in noble Jerusalem.


How does the Holy City discern the future? Undoubtedly, there is a gradual and planned process of Judaization, and every now and then relevant news comes out. There are court cases that have unfortunately been classified as a loss, such as the Petra and Imperial hotels which belong  to the Orthodox Church. After nearly twenty years of efforts exerted locally and internationally to block the suspicious deal, the Israeli Supreme Court has issued a decision not to accept the appeal of the Orthodox Church submitted since 2019. Furthermore, there are still several pending issues related to the churches and  the people. I do not think that the law of the occupying power will be fair in the face of the defenceless people who consider themselves living in a large prison. Thus, Judaization is the greatest danger that is gradually engulfing the Holy City and spreading further, while the world seems to be silent and accepting this situation, which was encouraged by the former US president, that incited the feelings of Arabs everywhere regarding Jerusalem and the sanctuaries.


I am not pessimistic, but whoever walks in the streets of Jerusalem gets overwhelmed by a wave of “confused senses”, given the sacred history and the complex reality. There is a feeling of awe at the sanctity of the nooks and crannies as well as the historical tiles over which thousands of generations have walked and have been sanctified. But, I was walking with great fear and anxiety over the beloved city of Jerusalem and its vague future, which does not seem to have a solution soon. At the same time I highly appreciate the assiduous  efforts exerted by the faithful, patient, and steadfast Churches as well as the dedication demonstrated by relevant institutions in order to remind the world, while receiving groups of pilgrims, that Jerusalem is the heart of the world and that no one may control this heart alone.