Easter Reflections by Kairos Palestine
Dear Friends around the world,
We are in Holy Week, and pilgrims from all over the world have come to Jerusalem to prepare for Easter celebrations. But Palestinians from Bethlehem, Ramallah and other West Bank cities cannot. In a last minute decision, the Israeli Security Forces issued a travel ban for the time from Wednesday the 23rd until Saturday the 26th. Even Palestinian Christians – some of us were given special permits for Easter – have severe trouble in getting to Jerusalem and have to deal with a complicated and unclear permit system and inhuman controls.
Yusef Daher, a Kairos author and currently the Executive Secretary of the Jerusalem Inter Church Centre, says: “Over the past two years, Jewish and Easter holidays have coincided and, while the Jews entering the Old City have had complete freedom of movement, the movement of Christians celebrating Good Friday and the Orthodox Holy Fire ceremony has been restricted by the barriers”. He adds: “…the network of Israeli police barriers have disrupted the flow and number of people able to reach the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for Good Friday services and the Orthodox Holy Fire ceremony at the Easter Vigil”. Daher characterized the measures as “part of the current Israeli Government’s policy of making Jerusalem an exclusively Jewish city.”
Kairos Palestine has launched its Easter Alert 2016 with a special Ecumenical Prayer for Peace. Unfortunately, due to the checkpoint closures, Palestinians from the West Bank could not come. We decided not to draw back and still held the prayer as a symbol of our non-violent resistance.
H.B. Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah said in his homily: “Jesus told us, ‘In the world you will have hardship; but be courageous. I have conquered the world’ (Jn16: 33). We pray and we believe that God will hear us, and He will triumph upon evil.”. His beautiful homily is available online.
So is the Easter Alert 2016, a book with spiritual reflections and fact-based reports for the seven weeks between Easter and Pentecost. With this Easter Alert we would like to start a year of campaigning towards the tragic anniversary of 50 years of Occupation. In the Bible, Isaiah and Leviticus tell us about the concept of Jubilee, after 7 cycles of 7 years it is time to return everything to its legitimate owner. This year of Jubilee is the acceptable time in which man comes back to God and to his brothers and sisters. It is the time people remove themselves from all oppression. Please make use of the reports and reflections on Palestine within your church communities, confront your politicians with the facts on Human Rights violations, presented by our partner organizations. Let us all advocate for an end of oppression in 2017!
Despite the tragic developments we’re facing in Palestine, in the Middle East and in Europe, we wish you a happy Easter and pray that through His resurrection, peace will finally triumph over evil.