Monday, 26 May 2014

Pope in Palestine

Pope Francis in the little town of Bethlehem behind a massive wall
Pope Francis went to Palestine to see how the Holy Land has been faring for all these years. He got a rude awakening when he saw firsthand the massive, concrete Apartheid Wall in Bethlehem. Instead of ignoring it like most politicians or religious leaders do, the Pope did something extraordinary. He prayed at Bethelem's illegal wall near a graffiti that read Free Palestine. The Pope was happy to be in the Birthplace of Jesus and to meet and speak to Palestinian Christians who like Bethlehem remain under illegal Israeli occupation. No amount of cries of "Israel has a right to exist" or "Israel first" could change Pope Francis' mind otherwise or prevent him from what he was seeing in Palestine. Palestinian Christians, among the world's oldest Christians, have equally been occupied, brutalized by Israeli army and Zionist policies of dispossessing and erasing Palestinian identity in occupied Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron where Rachel's Tomb sits and another smaller separation wall was built between illegal Israeli settlers and Palestinians, within Israel with the destruction of 400+ Palestinian villages in 1948 and denying both Palestinian Christians and Muslims their rights to freedom of movement within their own towns and cities. Discriminating and racist policies against Palestinians in Israel. Christians have been important to Palestinian identity, national struggle for justice, self determination and human rights. Israel has tried in vain to separate Muslims and Christians from unifying on the issue of justice and peace in Palestine and Israel. The pope called for Palestinian and Israeli leaders to meet for peace at the Vatican where there are no massive walls to prevent them from speaking to one another. No doubt the Israel firsters will chide the Pope for doing the right thing.

Palestinians greet Pope Francis with fanfare. Christians have also been living under occupation and have not been spared the Israeli Army's violence. The mainstream media and the pundits would have many believe that there are no Palestinian Christians and that their voices would add to the complexity of Palestine-Israel conflict. The Pundits simply state that the Palestinian Christians like the Lebanese and Iraqi co religious simply migrated out of Palestine due to terrorism by Hamas and Fatah but almost never mentions the Israeli military occupation.

Onward Christian Zionist soldiers?

Israeli leaders have tried to push Palestinian Christians and their brethren in other parts of the world to support the Zionist view of Israel's benevolence and its meta narrative of David vs Goliath in Middle East conflicts. Israel has constantly showcased itself as David while Palestinians and the larger region are portrayed in an orientalist image of Goliath. When the wars between Israel, Palestine and Arab countries have never been equal. Israel has used and continues to use disproportionate force to punish Hezbullah and civilians either supporters or innocent bystanders. Christian Zionism has been kind to Israel since the Six Day War in 1967 when many Christians saw Israel not only as a victor but as a state that could stand on its own two feet without relying on the West or any outside support. For the Christians who have understood modern day Israel/Palestine through Sunday school and evangelical church dispensationalism, Israel's victories against its Arab enemies and its boogeyman Iran is proof that biblical prophecy is right around the corner. In short Israel's creation fulfilled the prophecy and the messiah's return to Earth is long overdue. The rapture is coming, real life revelations' will bring the four horsemen of the Apocalypse to wreck havoc on the world and Israel is already fighting wars of biblical proportions just read the Left Behind series. A literal interpretation of biblical and Talmud chapters on Israel and Jews can help explain why the wars and bombings taking place keep happening across the Middle East and soon to be Iran if Netanyahu has his way of demonizing and caricaturing Iran as a nuclear nutcase like North Korea. God is seen as the purveyor of peace rather than road maps, years of negotiations and diplomats or genuine justice. As the Sunday school tale of Israel and Palestine reminds the Christian Zionists, Israel firsters, media pundits or evangelists.  The pope has reminded the Christian Zionists that not everything is determined by divine intervention or biblical interpretation but by actions from people on Earth whether they be the Pope or peace activists.

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