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PHOTOS: In fight against the wall, does Cremisan have a prayer?

After more than two years of vigils by Palestinian Christians that gained widespread international attention, the Israeli High Court issued a preliminary order questioning the path of the separation barrier that would further divide West Bank land, cutting off the Cremisan monastery and a valley of olive groves.

Photos and text by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org

Bethlehem-area Christians joined by local and international activists gather for a Catholic mass to protest the Israeli separation wall that will cut off Beit Jala's Cremisan monastery and winery from nearby West Bank communities, November 18, 2011.

Bethlehem-area Christians joined by local and international activists gather for a Catholic mass to protest the Israeli separation wall that will cut off Beit Jala’s Cremisan monastery and winery from nearby West Bank communities, November 18, 2011.

“What do we do? We pray,” said Father Ibrahim Shomali to the crowd assembled in an olive grove in the West Bank town of Beit Jala. “Because we believe in God and we believe that one day he will hear our prayer and he will give us justice.”

For more than two years, in sunshine, rain and even snow, Father Shomali, a local Catholic priest, has led a weekly mass as a form of non-violent witness against the Israeli separation barrier that threatens to divide the Cremisan monastery, as well as vast hillside olive groves, from the rest of the Beit Jala community. Father Shomali made this statement during the last vigil prior to an Israeli High Court hearing on January 29 to decide the barrier’s route.

November 18, 2011

November 18, 2011

Though organized by the local Palestinian Christian community, this unique protest has welcomed activists and community leaders of all faiths, as well as Palestinian government officials, international church leaders, diplomats and journalists. The story succeeded in reaching major media outlets including BBC and NPR, and was featured on CNN’s Christmas broadcast.

December 9, 2011

December 9, 2011

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas devoted an entire paragraph of his 2013 Christmas speech to the issue, saying:

We pray that the 58 Palestinian Christian families of Cremisan have strength in their peaceful struggle against the annexation wall, which is stealing their land and dooming their future. We reassure them that their struggle goes beyond the borders of Palestine: their prayers and actions have prompted many world leaders to raise the Cremisan issue in our meetings. Israel has been pressured on this issue and many other issues raised through civil society campaigns, a very good example of the merits of non-violent resistance.

February 24, 2012

February 24, 2012

“What the church is doing is being church,” says Father Shomali, perhaps anticipating those who would question the church’s involvement in such political issues. “Church is a church when it’s near people, and especially the poor people. And the poor people are not only the people who need food. It is also people who need justice.”

May 18, 2012

May 18, 2012

According to a detailed report by Ma’an News, Israeli officials claim that the Vatican initially agreed to their route for the wall, which put the Salesian monastery and convent on the Israel-controlled side. Church leaders deny any such agreement. But while affirming its opposition to the wall in principle, the monastery stopped short of joining the legal petition brought by local landowners against the barrier’s route, maintaining in a 2009 statement that, “Salesians do not get involved in issues and decisions to determine boundaries between the two states.” In October 2010, the convent broke from the monastery and joined the Palestinian legal case, saying their wishes had been misrepresented by the Israeli army.

June 22, 2012

June 22, 2012

However, within a year of the weekly vigils and corresponding media attention, church representatives explicitly condemned the planned route, stating that they “strongly call on the State of Israel to restrain from its plan to separate Cremisan valley from Bethlehem.” That same year, monastery representatives testified in court in support of the Palestinian landowners. Following a visit with Pope Francis in Rome last year, Father Shomali is confident that the pontiff will lend support to their case during a visit to the region in May.

September 8, 2012

September 8, 2012

Yet despite the vigil’s success in raising support in church, media and diplomatic circles, last April Israel’s Special Appeals Committee for land seizure under emergency law decided only to modify the barrier’s path to allow the convent and school to remain accessible to the community, but still cutting off the monastery and its winery, which employs local workers, as well as most of the valley’s olive trees, from the Beit Jala community. The nuns would lose access to 75 percent of their land and the school would lie in a military zone surrounded on three sides by the separation wall (map).

October 5, 2012

October 5, 2012

In its recent hearing of the community’s appeal against this decision, the High Court of Justice first delayed its verdict and then on Monday of this week issued a preliminary order giving the State Attorney two months to present evidence proving the necessity of the currently proposed route. A new hearing has been scheduled for the end of July. As a result, no work will proceed on the wall and all land seizure orders issued to local residents are at least temporarily frozen.

February 1, 2013

February 1, 2013

“The court leaves the burden of proof now on the side of the State,” says Anica Heinlein, advocacy officer for the Society of St. Yves Catholic Center for Human Rights, which is providing legal representation for the convent. Heinlein also cited the broad international and clerical presence in court as a potential factor.

“The case is not over until a final ruling is given,” says Advocate Zvi Avni, a lawyer for St. Yves. “We definitely have new hope. The answer of the court is a good sign.”

According to Father Shomali, the weekly vigils will continue every Friday afternoon at 3:30 until the case is closed.

February 8, 2013

February 8, 2013

But regardless of any ruling by the Israeli legal system, a 2004 advisory ruling by the International Court of Justice has stated that, “[t]he construction of the wall being built by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, and its associated régime, are contrary to international law.”

According to Father Shomali, “The only reason for the wall is to connect two settlements.” These are Gilo and Har Gilo, the former expanding over the hilltop opposite Cremisan and forming the backdrop of the weekly mass. Like all settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, they too are illegal under international law. And here, as with 85 percent of its route, the barrier would take more Palestinian land instead of separating the West Bank from Israel on the internationally recognized border, or Green Line.

March 15, 2013

March 15, 2013

According to the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ), Gilo and Har Gilo currently occupy 3,147 dunums of Beit Jala land, confiscated by Israel when it unilaterally redrew the Jerusalem municipal boundary after the 1967 war in a move that no other nation has recognized as legitimate. If the barrier is built as planned, the total loss to Beit Jala would be 6,674 dunums, isolating 47 percent of its land behind the wall.

May 10, 2013

May 10, 2013

Israeli officials maintain that the barrier is being built for security reasons. Many believe that the wall stopped Palestinian suicide bombings, the last of which occurred in February 2008. At that time, these and other acts of violence had killed 1,012 Israelis since October 2000. During the same period, Israelis killed 4,536 Palestinians.

But as the Cremisan case illustrates, only two-thirds of the barrier’s planned route is complete. Large gaps, which could easily be infiltrated by would-be attackers, allow tens of thousands of unauthorized Palestinians to enter Jerusalem or Israel on a daily basis to find work. The fact that no suicide bombings have occurred despite this relatively easy access indicates that the wall does not deserve credit for stopping them. Even former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Arens told an Israeli newspaper, “it’s clear there is no connection between the wall and the cessation of attacks.”

October 4, 2013

October 4, 2013

“If they want security for Jerusalem, five kilometers away from here is the Green Line, and they can build the wall there if they want to,” said a Palestinian official at one Friday’s mass. Refusing to recognize the Israel court’s jurisdiction over Palestinian territory, he added, “This case in particular shows the need for Palestine to go to the International Criminal Court.”

December 20, 2013

December 20, 2013

The Palestinian Authority has been pressured to refrain from confronting Israeli in international court following its upgraded UN status to “non-member observer state” in 2012. Yet while Palestine has refrained from such “unilateral actions,” most recently in order to perpetuate the U.S.-led peace process, Israel continues to build its wall and settlements throughout occupied Palestinian territory. Even if the High Court makes a final decision to move the barrier’s route in the case of Cremisan, it will almost certainly still be beyond the Green Line. Given this reality, Palestinians will continue seeking answers to their prayers for justice in higher courts.

January 24, 2014

January 24, 2014


Related:

Palestinian Christians ask pope to help save West Bank lands
WATCH: Al Walaja – The story of a shrinking Palestinian village
The Wall Project

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Ginger Eis

      Using the Catholic “Holy Mass” as a political instrument is immoral. We know where such activities led to in places like El Salvador. The Second Vatican Council forbids Catholic priests to engage in politics and/or use Christian/Catholic symbols to fight political battles. But for the Palestinians NOTHING is sacred in their war against Jews. Even Muslim-Jihadis (who despise Christianity) dress up as ‘Christian Santa Claus’ in their propaganda to show the world how Israel persecutes Christians in Judea and Samaria! Shame on “Father” Shomali & Co. for misusing and abusing symbols sacred to Christians to make a case that has nothing to do with Christianity.

      Reply to Comment
      • Haifawi

        you’re too precious. tell me, in your opinion how could the palestinians demonstrate opposition to this de facto annexation in a ‘moral’ way?

        Reply to Comment
        • Ginger Eis

          The “Holy Mass” as I understand it (and I don’t claim to be an expert on Christianity) is the most sacred aspect of the Christian Catholic life and liturgy. I don’t see how that could ever be a legitimate weapon for POLITICAL protest. Defend it if you want. But it ain’t right – just as Palestinian Muslim-Jihadis barricading themselves in the Nativity Church (one of the most sacred Christian Shrines) to fight the IDF, desecrating the Church (even using it as toilet during the days of the battles) and doing a lot of physical damage to it, wasn’t right! (You need a source for this too?).

          Reply to Comment
          • I am a Catholic and have worshipped frequently at Mass in Cremisan. In the Eucharist, we recognise the body of Jesus, broken for our sake; and we are reminded of his teaching to go and find him and tend to him in people who are poverty-stricken or sick or living in otherwise desperate circumstances. At the first celebration of the Eucharist, Jesus held up the bread and said, “This is my body”; during his public ministry, he identified himself with prisoners, sick people, and those so poor as to be without clothes. “Whatever you do to the least of these my brothers, you do also to me.” The link between the celebration of the Eucharist and the gospel imperative to serve Jesus wherever there is suffering is crystal clear and it is political. The children who attend the Salesian sisters’ school are in a particularly tough situation, especially those who have special needs, and their right to education is a political issue as much as it is a moral one. It is in perfect harmony with Catholic teaching to offer Mass for them and for every other person who is affected by this wall. Who are you to try to neuter people’s prayer by saying which suffering they can and can’t legitimately pray for?

            Reply to Comment
          • John

            Thank you Vicky.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            Vicky, you are giving a sermon – not making (legal) arguments. Your theology (which is NOT shared by all Christians) and CANNOT exist independent of the Jewish theology, is only important to you and is, in any case, NOT the subject of discussions here! Sermons and proselyting are not arguments for- or against the issue at hand.
            Try again, ma’am!

            Reply to Comment
          • I explained the theology behind the Catholic Mass, as I do quite regularly. I’m a catechist, someone who is able to teach converts and Catholics who haven’t had much religious education in the past. I go over the Mass with converts and explains what it means, each and every part, and I teach them what’s normative in our tradition. The Cremisan Mass fits within that tradition perfectly, whether you like it or not. If you want the technical information from canon law, then what you wrote about the Second Vatican Council is wrong. Priests have never been prohibited from engaging in politics. If they were then they wouldn’t even be able to vote (and this is one of the few things that enclosed monks and nuns can actually leave their monasteries for). The pope wouldn’t be able to function as a head of state in the way that he does currently. Catholic religious orders such as the Carmelites wouldn’t be able to register as NGOs at the UN and take part in political lobbying. The Jesuit priests wouldn’t be able to run a major international refugee service that involves intense political advocacy and interactions with governments every day. The only restriction on priests’ involvement in politics was laid out by the Synod of Bishops in 1971, which states that they can’t join or endorse specific political parties except in serious situations and without permission from their bishop. Fr Shomali hasn’t joined or endorsed any political party. There is nothing even slightly questionable with Mass as he celebrates it. He is actually obeying the request of Patriarch Michael Sabbeh, who in his Easter sermon one year urged Catholics in the Holy Land to transform the checkpoints and barriers into places of prayer. The Cremisan Mass is one of several heartfelt responses to that call.

            You are basically making this all about your own politics, not the Cremisan community’s: their worship doesn’t happen to support your image of the occupation as a conflict between Jews and Muslims, so you decide – with very limited knowledge of Catholic Mass and the theology behind it – that they’re profaning our liturgy and aren’t ‘true Christians’. Fortunately agreement with your politics isn’t the litmus test for anyone’s faith. Neither is agreement with mine, come to that – as a Christian I know I could never say that ‘true Christians don’t buy Christian Zionism’. Judging the faith of others comes with a serious warning attached (Romans 2:1), and God has far clearer and more loving sight when it comes to knowing who people are and the sincerity of their intentions.

            These are Catholic beliefs. The Mass at Cremisan does not depart from them. Whether you like that or not, it is not your place to try and teach Catholic liturgy to Catholics who are doing nothing more irreverent than refusing to fit into the conflict as you understand it.

            Reply to Comment
      • Haifawi

        Ah, and it is very poor form to not include a source about ‘Muslim Jihadis dressing up as Santa Claus to show the persecution of Christians.’

        As you would write, that’s ‘inexcusably mediocre.’

        Reply to Comment
        • Ginger Eis

          You asked for it. you get it. See Palestinians abuse peaceful Christian symbol, desperately try to turn Christians against Jews. But TRUE Christians ain’t buying it.

          https://www.google.nl/search?q=palestinians+dressed+as+santa+claus+to+protest+against+idf+soldiers&sa=X&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&ei=UqPyUrX7Muep0QWz44CACA&ved=0CDQQsAQ&biw=1280&bih=616

          BTW, have you been out again to Judea and Samaria throwing rocks at IDF-soldiers and “making the lives of the Settlers as miserable as possible”? I’m wondering ‘cos you have been absent here of late.

          Reply to Comment
          • Haifawi

            Those don’t look like ‘Muslim-jihadis’ to me.

            And I’ve been more focused on hanging out in places where birthright tours congregate and doing my own version of hasbara.
            Something like 80% of American Jews have left-leaning universal justice non-ethnic nationalist ideologies. I’m just trying to remove the cognitive dissonance.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            Duh?! Of course “those don’t look like ‘Muslim-jihadis’ to” you. Why else would they wear Santa Claus garment? So that you can recognize them as ‘Muslim-jihadis’? Anyways, it is good to know you are not out there throwing rocks and “making the lives of Settlers as miserable as possible”. I believe 99.99% of the Jewry knows what is important and will act to safeguard it, namely (a) the survival of the Jewish People on earth as a distinct ethnic group (just like the French, the Danes, the Germans, the Arabs, etc.) and (b) the survival of the State Of Israel as a democratic Nation-state of the Jewish People (just like France, Denmark, Germany, Norway, etc.). There will be (organized) dissenting voices here and there within the Jewry, but we have enough room for that.

            Reply to Comment
      • JG

        what christians do with their symbols is just none of your weirdo business, so stfu

        Reply to Comment
        • Ginger Eis

          Did I hear you say: “Stfu”?! Gee, that’s the most intelligent argument I have ever heard. Kol ha’kavod (Bravo)!

          Reply to Comment
      • Semiotic.Observer

        Ginger, so you think that the use of the Catholic “Holy Mass” as a political instrument by Palestinians is immoral?

        OK. What do you think of the use of all of Judaism as political instrument by Zionists?

        Reply to Comment
        • sh

          I would have called it ab-use of Judaism as a political instrument.

          Each time I see another batch of photos of yet another Palestinian grove of olive trees chopped to pieces by settlers, I think of the cast-iron Jewish prohibition on cutting down fruit trees I learned about in elementary school.

          But they invent loopholes in anything that suits their ideology, which is not Jewish so much as ….. well, let’s not give it a name.

          Reply to Comment
        • Ginger Eis

          YES – if Judaism ‘as such’ and/or individuals are under attack FOR BEING Jews. In the present situation (a) Christianity is NOT under any form of attack. In fact, Israel is the ONLY place in the WHOLE of the ME where Christians can worship as freely as in EU or USA; (b) NO INDIVIDUAL(S) is/are under attack because they are Christians. So why the cynical attempt to rally Christians against Jews? Would “Father” Shomali have the courage to POLITICIZE his “Holy Mass” in places where Catholics are actually persecuted, e.g. Northern Ireland, or Egypt, Iraq, Saudi-Arabia, Syria, Gaza, etc., and have fled in their hundreds of thousands? No, because he knows such would mean certain cruel death. But the only country in the ME that actually provide SOLID SANCTUARY to Christians is the one “Father” Shomali rallies Christians against with his “Holy Mass”. That’s dishonest and cowardly!

          Reply to Comment
          • The Catholic priests in Gaza don’t shy away from politics (Fr Musallam was a particular firebrand in his day…) but you wouldn’t like to hear what they have to say. Perhaps you would put quotation marks round their titles too. Like it or not, their status as priests isn’t dependent on your opinions of what they do.

            As for the other places you list, they have all witnessed Masses that are explicitly political. Northern Ireland in particular has had many hundreds of thousands of ‘political’ worship services, some of which put the lives of celebrants and attendees at risk. It’s impossible to hold a joint Catholic/Protestant service without making a political statement. At the height of the Troubles many people went to church knowing full well that the building could be firebombed during the service. For Catholics in some neighbourhoods, going into the street wearing a crucifix or an ashen cross on Ash Wednesday became political.

            The people of Beit Jala aren’t being rallied against anything by Fr Shomali. They know very well what they live with from day to day, and it isn’t the utopia you want to believe they’re in. They’re praying about their own lives.

            Reply to Comment
          • The purpose of ice cream comments is complete stupefaction, to pacify until one becomes an automaton following the only provided way or retreats into oblivion. Only these two options are permitted, and either gives satisfaction. I doubt you will be answered, for you provide nothing which can be thrown back at you. I, however, may not be so fortunate.

            Excellent thoughts throughout this tread. It is sad to see someone wash over a post to make its content go away–which is what is happening here. One cannot make the case for a people by erasing the lives of others.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            Vicky, you are missing the point – willfully or not. Israel is the ONLY place in the ME where Christians are protected and free to worship as in Europe, North America and Australia. Neither Christians nor Christianity is under attack in Israel! As such there is no need to rally Christians against Jews as Mr. Shomali cynically does, albeit tries to do. No one here, except the diehard ideologues/sycophants, is fooled by the false info you provide re Christians/Christianity in the places I mentioned. Try again. Begin with:

            http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/05/07/mass-exodus-christians-from-muslim-world/

            Reply to Comment
          • Father Shomali isn’t rallying Christians ‘against Jews’, or against anyone. The Christians of Cremisan are facing the confiscation of land, the loss of a wonderful school that is particularly good for more fragile children, and an increased army presence. You do not seem to understand the serious threat that this poses to their quality of life, economically and socially. This is what they are praying about, this issue that you are not facing. Trying to suggest that they’d be worse off in other countries does nothing to make their current situation any better, and they wouldn’t be thankful to have a non-Palestinian non-Christian telling them exactly what great freedoms they have. You’re not the one who has to live with this.

            Incidentally, the sisters at Cremisan have these words inscribed in stone near the entrance to their school, where the army is proposing to insert a wall and a checkpoint to dish out some more stress to children who are already traumatised: “There will come a day without borders when the only passport will be the heart.” Father Shomali blessed that inscription. Hardly the hateful figure you are trying to make out.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            (1) Israeli victims of terrorism including the dead, the ones that are still wheelchair-bound and the ones still living with serious bodily injury, would want to exchange places with Palestinians whose freedom of movement is restricted by the wall. (2) there would be more barbarous mass murders on Israel’s busses, discotheques, cafes, etc., if the wall were to be removed. (3) Your claim that “the Christians of Cremisan are facing land confiscation and loss of wonderful schools” is “particularly” FALSE: (a) there is NO land confiscation; (b) No land has been confiscated because the owner is a Christian; (c) No land has been confiscated because the owner is the Church; (d) Everyone has access to his/her land and school, albeit with a few security related restrictions, etc. (4) 80% of Israeli Jews will go to war to secure the Rights Christians to practice their faith and worship freely in Israel. There is a problem with the WB Wall. No question about that. But in Israel, as you well know, land conflicts are resolved in Courts. But Mr. Shomali&Co. invite journalists and use their open-air Mass to cynically claim that Christianity/Christians is/are under attack in Israel and rally Christians against Jews. That is dishonest and I am sure G-d is dismayed at that!

            Reply to Comment
          • The completion of the separation wall in Cremisan and Beit Jala will mean the confiscation of 6674 dunums. That’s a staggering loss for the local community. No, it’s not being taken just because the families are Christian, and nowhere has Father Shomali ever said so. He knows that occupation and annexation target Palestinian Christians and Muslims equally. My neighbours don’t have access to their olive groves any more. My host family are facing the confiscation of their house and their car repair garage (the main source of income) was destroyed to make way for the wall. And these are just the people from my little street. Bethlehem area is full of people, Christian and Muslim, who have lost land and livelihood to that wall. You’re only able to tell yourself that the wall isn’t doing any harm because the same wall conveniently blocks them from your sight and you don’t have to listen to any of them.

            If the army builds the wall through the Salesian sisters’ property and installs a checkpoint there, the school will be unable to continue. The children will each need a special permit from the military in order to be educated there, and permits are granted and revoked on a whim, and they often come with strings attached (i.e. friendly little chats with the Shin Bet). Education for those children would become a privilege to be taken away at any time. The school certainly wouldn’t be able to receive children in need of psychological care any more; there is no conceivable way that the kids on my caseload could go to school in a military enclosure. It’s also impossible to suggest that this is being done for ‘security reasons’. If it were, the wall would be on the Green Line, not snaking deep into the West Bank. There are no suicide bombers lurking in the playground at Cremisan, so why the sudden need for a wall there now? The army is after the land.

            You underestimate the negative effect that the wall has on people’s lives. My host family is barely scraping by financially thanks to the loss of their garage, and my host mother is sick with worry over the threat to confiscate the house. In the summer, when she travelled up to Ramallah to seek help from the PA over the status of the house, she went without food en route because she couldn’t afford petrol and food for the journey. Perhaps some Israelis who were physically disabled in terror attacks would find it more desirable to live in poverty, surrounded on three sides by a wall so that the building is in half-darkness, with four traumatised children to care for (one very severely so, thanks to the army’s incursions to the house) and with the threat of homelessness hanging over their heads, but I’m not sure. They definitely wouldn’t want to swap with the Palestinians who were seriously injured by the army, who contend with their physical disability on top of the occupation. This wall isn’t doing anything good for anyone; people sneak to illegal jobs within the Green Line every day, so it would be easy for suicide bombers to get through if they wanted. All it does is gobble up land and leave misery in its wake.

            As for what dismays God, the Bible makes it clear that the cries of vulnerable people are heard in heaven, and that we have a responsibility towards them. When the government issued a demolition order on the already impoverished village of Khan al-Ahmar to make way for the expansion of Ma’ale Adumim and Kfar Adumim, I was reminded of the parable told by the Prophet Nathan to King David about the poor man’s lamb. I think a lot of religious supporters of the occupation would respond to the parable, as David did, with righteous indignation towards the anonymous man who “did this thing, and had no pity”…

            Reply to Comment
      • andrew r

        “Shame on “Father” Shomali & Co. for misusing and abusing symbols sacred to Christians to make a case that has nothing to do with Christianity.”

        It would be interesting to see how the clergy reacted to the Balfour declaration, but that was a case of state officials making a case that had nothing to do with Christianity, using a politicized version of its tenets.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Shmuel

      No democratic country could avoid building a wall to save lives. The wall, however, should not pass arbitrarily or, as it seems, intentionally to divide, harass and violate the life of Palestinians. Even if it is a mistake, one has to correct it.

      A democracy treats its citizens right, but it must also do the same with neighbors and foreigners.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ginger Eis

        Shmuel, you are absolutely correct. With regard to the particular section of the wall in this particular case, a lawsuit is pending at the Supreme Court and I believe the Court will rule in the nearest future. The Court will engage in the arduous task of weighing the Rights of individuals to Life against the Rights of others to absolute freedom of movement (if there exists any such thing as “absolute freedom of movement”). That’s a very difficult legal balancing act to make. Israeli (Supreme) Court is fiercely as independent as the SCOTUS and I as such have full trust that the Supreme Court will come to the best humanly possible decision. Politicizing Catholicism in this instance is just not right.

        Reply to Comment
    3. ‘says Father Shomali, perhaps anticipating those who would question the church’s involvement in such political issues. “Church is a church when it’s near people, and especially the poor people. And the poor people are not only the people who need food. It is also people who need justice.”’

      A view worthy of Archbishop Romero of El Salvador.

      While I do not think the High Court will become an avatar of the left, this is another sign that some of those on it are moving toward an independent position relative to the Israeli State. And that is how things must begin.

      A very effective article, interweaving photos of the Mass with excellent political and historical commentary, yet again showing the high quality of ActiveStills.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Gied ten Berge

      Jesus’Last Supper was also a political statement. He still cries over the Land and the City.

      Reply to Comment
      • Apolitical religion is an impossibility. I doubt that the people who are suddenly keen to treat religion as a separate sphere, not to be profaned by protests (as if all those cries for divine justice documented in the Bible don’t qualify as protest) have ever voiced a problem with the politicized Judaism of the dati-leumi population in Israel…

        Reply to Comment
        • Ginger Eis

          If you seriously think that using the Catholic Mass as an instrument of politics is appropriate, you might need serious consultations with your superiors and probably re-education. The Mass is prayer as you say. Hence there can be no such thing as political Mass, for then it ceases to be prayer to G-d but a massage to the addressed political constituent. If you use your most sacred act as an instrument of war/politics, be ready to take responsibility when others trample on it. The Vatican learnt that lesson the hard way in, among others, places like El Salvador, etc. That and the aspects of priestly engagement in politics as laid down in the 2nd Vatican Council (which you seem to interpret as broad as possible to suite your own machinations) has – obviously – not been communicated to you. Do your research, ma’am. Begin with Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide!

          Reply to Comment
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