For weeks the Gazan inhabitants who do live in dire conditions, true – all are responsible for such a lasting situation and definitely not Israel alone, a bit of common sense! – for weeks they rush at the end of the week to the border and try to burn tyres, now they send drones, kites and even condoms on fire to the fields of the Israelis where the crops are ripe… This “kite” method has been used, to begin with, in Japan during World War II. At this point, it is evident that population of Gaza is under such a non-humane situation, parked from all parts and subject to mental and political twisting of their elected leaders (whether it be Hamas alone and/or all the Palestinian politicians who play on an overall context of rejection). The Palestinian or so-called Arabs have been framed aside in all Arab countries, Leban on, Syria, Jordan for more than 70 years. Others come and go to the Gulf Emirates where they can work and make money but cannot enjoy local citzenship.
The Gazan situation is a shame, also for Egypt and ultimately, the chaos that followed the pullout of the Israelis in 2005 created a set of tragedies for bot hthe Arabs in Gaza and the Jews as settlers who started t owander in search of new places where to live.
I can witness that Jews, Christians and Muslims did work peacefully for most of the time in the Gaza Strip while it was under Israeli administration. I saw that personally and several times. People were working, were developing. But one of the features of the region is that it is easy to build for a while and destroy for more “whiles”. It is usual to create and work, it is normal to break and scatter the stones and the souls.
A basic example that is real as for today in Jerusalem (Western part, but it does not matter, there may be the same situation in many cities, with some exceptions suc has Abu Gosh… and still, it is not definitely certain): in a good and much appreciated restaurant, the manager works with Arab cooks and the waitresses – mainly young students – are new emigrants or so. Some are Jewish, they are often of mixed backgrounds, often with some Christian parents (one or even both who do not show as such) At the scheduled time, the cooks leave the restaurant and go to the Muslim prayer and they do the ablution in a special room. They come back and they are very happy to work, they are nice with the Jewish Israeli manager who does not own the place but it is one of the restaurants of a big international company.
Incidentally, the manager discovered a text written in Arabic on a hidden part of the wall. He asked one of the cooks what was written and why it was there, in a rather hidden place. The cook plainly answered that it was a curse written as a quotation from the Qur’an. The manager got frightened and inquired why such a curse. The cook continued calmly that when the Arabs will take back the restaurant and the part of Jerusalem, he will show that he was a “fighter, a resistant” who only had worked for the Jews because he was living in dire conditions and had to survive in the time of “occupation”….!
Locally speaking, it is usual stuff. The Jewish manager sadly never thought of learning Arabic, which is just common sense when a small Israeli State is clutched in the middle of a totally Arabic-speaking region, with immense cultural and human, scientific backgrounds. Some do learn Arabic now, but it took more than twenty years for the new olim (immigrants). Not to speak of the present-day project to remove Arabic as a “national tongue of the State of Israel”. A recurrent “fancy”. But here the thing is a bit different.
The fragility of all possible relationships are shown in the account. In fact, nothing happened and the cook continues to cook and the Jew continue to run the business and just he “got to the point”. He can trust but to some extent. And the Muslim will trust but to some extent.
This come and go process of “yes we trust and agree” and “now we do not tsut anymore, or we deny an agreement” belongs to the verbal constant versatility of the local people, all of them. The same situaiton exists among the Christians who are segmented in different jurisdictions and meet for agreements – more as for nowadays, more than 7 years ago, for instance, but still. The heads meet, some clercis meet but there can only be a sort of mental distance, keeping aside if not away and not willing to interfere in case of emergency or harsh problems.
We are in the Jewish Month of Menachem Av (comforting Month of Av) that will climax on Tisha BeAv (Ninth of Av = Sunday July 22nd this year, postponed ot this day because of the Shabbat). It is a sort of deadline because of the same Jewish date, i.e. on August 1, 2017, the Judge of the Jerusalem District “Gila Kanfi-Steinitz, deputy head of the district court, ruled the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate was unable to establish that the deals, made in 2004 between the church and three overseas holding companies for the Ateret Cohanim organization, were fraudulent or involved bribery and were therefore valid.”
This happened one year ago. Ever since, Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem made a huge tour through the Middle-East, Constantinople, Jordan, Ramallah, then Rome, London to get the support of the sister Churches and their leaders. He intervened with much courage and determination and the situaiton is quite difficult. King Abdullah of Jordan required some changes that may have led to the appointment of new archbishops for Madaba and Amman at the feast of Pentecost 2018.
The Russian Orthodox of Moscow is two-faceted in Jerusalem and celebrates the 170th anniversary of the presence of of the Orthodox Church, counting her assets, properties, land, their faithful, the cultural and theologicla impact on the local Christian communities. The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad that keeps some of the most important places of the Russian tradition (Mount of Olives monasteries, Bethany, Alexandr Nevsky Podvorie close to the Holy Sepulcher) revives and her significance is shown by the visit of the British royal family.
The Patriarchate of Moscow is stuck by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem whose history has been a long experience to overstep all unbelievable tragedies and mishaps throughout the ages in the Mother of All the Church of God of Jerusalem. There are the Ukrainians and the other “others and sundries” . The Patriarchate of Moscow negotiates via the government of the Federation of Russia with the King of Jordan who is the “Guardian of the Holy Sites” and thus may decide, beyond the agreement of the Rum orthodox Church of Jerusalem, to grant some strategical places (on the Jordan River, for example) to the Russian Orthodox Church because of the crowds of pilgrims and visitors.
Recently, for the first time, there were no Russian Orthodox hierarch or clergymen to celebrate at the night Divine Liturgy in the Holy Sepulcher. A sort of tactical strike. The Russians keep aside from any open support in the affairs of the Church of Jerusalem.
Tomorrow July 17 and 18, the centennial of the martyrdom of the saint imperial Tzar Nicholas II and the Tzarist family at Ekaterinburg will be commemorated with fervor at Jerusalem. Ten days later, the 1030th anniversary of the Baptism of the Kievan Rus and of Saint Vladimir (Volodymyr-Valdemar) will be very important becauseo f the embattled context in Ukraine.
The Churches of the Holy Land focus on their own survival. They require most justice and respect from the Israeli and Jewish side. In Gaza, it seems that the medias would only report on Catholic priest and faithful living and sharing the same tragedy as the Muslims. The Orthodox do not publicize, except that, unwillingly, the picture of the Greek Orthodox Bishop Alexios is exposed in many Christian and Catholic exhibitions… they do not seem to know his curriculum though his present service in the Gazan jungle may be a redeeming process for any soul.
Frankly, why in the world the Christian Churches in Israel cannot utter a word of compassion as the Israeli Southern Negev farms are on fire? Why do they continue to stutter their patterns of full sympathy for the Palestinian cause and victims ONLY?
What will Israel do on this year Tisha Beav?