As I write these words, one week ago this morning, at this very hour, I was sitting in Bethlehem’s Palestinian Authority police headquarters. I had been sent to a separate room, an adjacent office to the one where phone and passport had been taken and remained. In spite of my objections, in spite of the PA interrogator’s pledge of hospitality, personal texts were being read. Under the watchful eye of a de facto guard, I crossed my legs, shut my eyes, relaxed with deep breaths and wordlessly prayed. It was Thursday morning, 19 June 2014.
For the past six months I have been living in Beit Jala. It is a mostly Christian community in the Bethlehem District. The Church of the Nativity was a fifteen minute walk from my room. Like the little town of Bethlehem, Beit Jala is on the other side of Israel’s security barrier. According to Oslo agreements, it is part of Area A, under governmental control of the Palestinian Authority. Still, it is common to see Westerners on the street. Bethlehem is visited by more than a million tourists every year. Most, I think, do not understand they have left the umbrella of Israel’s sovereign protection. With the exception of a few risk-takers, none of these visitors are Israeli. It is against the law for them to be in the Bethlehem district. Large red signs are posted at area entrances. They read, “This road leads to Area ‘A.’ Entrance for Israeli citizens is forbidden. [It is] dangerous to your lives and is against Israeli law.” Surprising to many of my friends, I felt safe. Until last Thursday morning.
Distraught and defiant, the mother of young “Zionist Muslim” from Nazareth Mohammed Zoabi said Wednesday that he has received threats from Muslim extremists in “the territories” and from Arab countries following his recent Facebook video, expressing support for the three Jewish youths abducted by Hamas.
In an interview on Tel Aviv’s 102FM radio, the mother of 17-year-old Mohammed said her son came under a barrage of threats after uploading the video to Facebook.
“My son is being threatened,” she said, “and it is not a temporary thing. I know what this is about, they cursed him as if he were the enemy of the entire Arab population. They did not care that he is a 17-year-old boy, they did not respect his opinion.”
A letter from Canon Andrew White, Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East
Greetings from Baghdad. I have been in Cyprus, England, Israel, Jordan and Iraq in the last last ten days so I have been rather busy. Much of the work has been in relation to an historic meeting between Iraq and Israel.
The Naim Dangoor Program of Universal Monotheism is sponsoring a unique and truly historic meeting between some of the most senior religious leaders of Iraq and Israel. The meeting is scheduled to take place next week in Cyprus and will
bring together Iraqi Jews, Christians and Muslims along with Jewish, Christian and Muslim Israelis and Palestinians. This meeting will bring together the leaders of the monotheistic faiths from the most dangerous area in the world.
Never before has there been a meeting between Israeli and Iraqi leaders either religious or secular. The two want to show that there is no way that there can be world peace without working together. We trust that this will just be the beginning of a true working engagement together. Further information will follow though we are afraid that for security reasons we are unable to mention the names of those involved. The event is being organised by me and the FRRME.
So we truly do need your prayers and look forward to giving you more news soon.
We are passing on this message about Keren Malki, which we think is very worthy of your support.
My wife Frimet and I set up Keren Malki in 2001. Now the foundation that bears the name of our murdered daughter is embarking on a full week of awareness-raising activities in the UK. I am writing to ask you and other friends and personal contacts in the UK to help make this a success.
As I hope you agree, Keren Malki has established a track record of which its supporters can be proud. Day by day, it does a great deal of good in helping families who live in Israel and who care at home for a child with serious disabilities. The work of Keren Malki has always been, and remains, non-sectarian and non-political. The focus is firmly on the child with special needs, and the child’s supportive family.
Fran Waddams recently attended a talk given in Birmingham by ex-mayor of Sderot, David Bouskali, organised by the Jewish National Fund, the newly formed West Midlands Friends of Israel (contact details below) and West Midlands based Kingdom Ambassadors.
An audience with an ‘Ad-mayor-able’ man
“I lay awake at night worrying about the children of Gaza.” Are these the words of a leader from Hamas, the ruling party of Gaza? From Mahmoud Abbas? A prominent member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, perhaps? No. They were uttered by Sderot’s ex-Mayor David Bouskila, who is currently in the UK as the guest of the Jewish National Fund UK, whose members have funded some high profile projects in the beleaguered Southern Israel town. Mr Bouskali was addressing a well attended meeting of Jews and Christians from the West Midlands and beyond.