Concerned about violence, Holy Land ordinaries want stability from Israel’s new government
As a new Israeli government is set to take over, Catholic leaders bemoan the deteriorating “social and political situation” and recent statements “against” coexistence. They also express concern for the legal limbo of migrants, expanding Jewish settlements, the school crisis caused by funding cuts, and the “absence of a real process of peace.”
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land (ACOHL) recently expressed their concern “about the political and social life of our communities” at a time when a new Israeli government, the most right-wing in the history of the country, is set to take office, and the Palestinian question is increasingly relegated to the bottom of the international agenda.
In its statement, sent to AsiaNews, the ACOHL urge the new government, which Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu should present shortly, “to bring stability" amid “the gradual deterioration of the general social and political situation in the Holy Land”.
Catholic ordinaries cite recent controversial statements by members of the future coalition government towards non-Jews, most notably the Arab community, calling them “contrary to the spirit of peaceful and constructive coexistence” among Christians, Jews, and Muslims.
Such statement often favour “those in this country who want division” and “create distrust and resentment” as well as “lay the groundwork for further violence.”
Inevitably, radical and extremist language “turns into physical violence as well.” For this reason, the government must show “fairness to the diverse communities that make up Israeli society, avoiding discrimination or preference.”
The statement goes on to stress the “need to give more attention to the Arab communities in Israel” and expresses concern for the “violence and lack of security within the Arab community”, which experiences serious “incidents and widespread crime”.
Amid growing divisions and violence, family life is increasingly fragile. For Catholic Ordinaries, the answer is education for both Jews and Arabs because it alone can guarantee "a future".
Speaking about schools, ACOHL warns that “Christian schools in Israel are, once again, on the brink of a crisis” because of “recent cuts in government funding” by the outgoing administration.
With respect to “foreign workers, asylum seekers, and their children,” the statement expresses concern about the “legal limbo” in which many find themselves, especially if they are Christian, for they “are part of the life of the Church”.
In addition, attention is needed for “what is happening in Palestine and the Occupied Territories” where “The situation is progressively and rapidly deteriorating” as evinced “by the numbers: we have witnessed an upsurge in violence this year, with the highest Palestinian death toll in more than twenty years” caused by settler violence.
What is more, “The living area available to the Palestinian population continues to shrink, due to the sustained growth of settlements”, while attacks against Jews are also on the rise. “Violence is never justified and must always be condemned”.
Arresting Palestinian youths is another issue; detaining “minors should never be a norm in a democratic country” because young people are “entitled to live in peace and security” and "build a better future”.
Last but not least, the Ordinaries bemoan the “absence of a real process of peace, based on International Law”, insisting that Palestinians be “granted dignity and freedom in their land” as opposed to the “deep distrust and perhaps even hatred, that is taking root in the hearts of the two populations, Israeli and Palestinian.”
For the ACOHL, some “signs of consolation” are visible, most notably “the return of the pilgrims to the Holy Land” following the lifting of restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Taking their cue from Pope Francis, the Ordinaries urge Christian communities “to pray for peace in Jerusalem, in the Holy Land and in every place in the world where violence, hate and division are a source of suffering.”