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Home arrow Blog arrow September 2009 arrow September 17, 2009

September 17, 2009
September 17, 2009: Back to Jerusalem: Myth, Facts, an Experience and KEEP HOPE ALIVE


PART 1: Back to occupied east Jerusalem   Read more...



Myth vs Facts: Israel Restricts Freedom of Worship in Jerusalem

Myth: “From 1948 to 1967 Jordan denied Israelis access to their holy sites in East Jerusalem, including the Wailing Wall and the cemetery on the Mount of Olives. After capturing East Jerusalem in 1967, Israel permitted Muslims and Christians free access to their holy sites.”

Fact: “Since March 1993, Israel has enforced a closure on Jerusalem, illegally annexing large parts of East Jerusalem and isolating the city from the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In order to enter Jerusalem, any Palestinian living on the outskirts of the city or elsewhere in the West Bank and Gaza Strip must apply for a temporary permit that is extremely difficult to obtain.”

Fact: “Israel’s closure policy has resulted in the denial to hundreds of thousands of Muslim and Christian Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza of access to their holy sites in Jerusalem, even during religious holidays.”

    * Thousands of police in Jerusalem have restricted access to the al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s holiest site in the city, for every Friday prayer since Ramadan began on Aug. 22, 2009. Friday is the Muslim day of worship and is marked by large communal prayers, especially during Ramadan. The huge plaza in front of the silver-domed Al Aqsa Mosque, also home to the golden-topped Dome of the Rock, has room for as many as 300,000 worshippers.
    * During Ramadan season only men over 50 and women over 45, or Palestinians with the special permits, are allowed to enter the Old City.

We call upon Israeli authorities to permit any Muslim who wishes to pray in Jerusalem this Friday, Sept. 18—the last Friday of Ramadan—to worship in this city, which is holy to three religions, and to celebrate Eid al Fitr, on Sept. 20, in freedom.

We call upon Israel to allow freedom of worship in the holy city of Jerusalem.

The Israeli occupation authorities deployed troops in large numbers in and around the occupied city of Jerusalem and setup roadblocks in the city on the third Friday of the holy month of Ramadan.

The Israeli radio had announced earlier that only men over the age of 50 and women over the age of 45 and those with passes will be allowed to reach the Aqsa Mosque to perform the Friday prayers.

Thousands of people waited at the Kalandia check point to be allowed into Jerusalem, the IOF allowed a small number and thousands were still waiting at noon when IOF officers running the check point announced it was closed, according to al-Jazeera tv.

Kalandia is the only gateway for Palestinians from the West Bank into Jerusalem and during Ramadan Muslim worshipers try to reach the Aqsa Mosque for their Friday Prayers.

Many people have been waiting at the checkpoint since before dawn hoping to be able to cross into Jerusalem. Palestinian medics were at the scene and helped a number of people who collapsed because of the heat and the overcrowding.

Courtesy The Palestine Information Center Copyright © 2009 Washington Report on Middle East Affairs All Rights Reserved.




 
On the morning of March 18, 2006, the eighth day of my third journey to Israel and Palestine began with a tour of the Old City of Jerusalem. A sacred hush filled the cypress canopied stone streets of The Noble Sanctuary that lead us to the Dome of The Rock, the site where Abraham offered to sacrifice his son [his first born son was Ishmael] and where it is reported Mohammed ascended to heaven.

We all remove our shoes and all the women cover their hair with scarves, then we silently tread the crimson carpet inside the Mosque. I am awed by the domed mosaic ceiling, geometric designed stained glass and massive crystal chandeliers above my head and silence is the only sound I hear although the mosque is filled with people.

Our group is split into two: some take the basic tour but a few Dutch, Japanese, Canadians, two Brits and I go the political route. Our guide is Mahmoud whose father was from Chad, his mother is Palestinian and he was born in Jerusalem.

Mahmoud tells us with a smile, “I was at the Ambassador Hotel for the public meeting the other day and was arrested and detained for eight hours. The Israelis will not allow Hamas and the PFLP to have public meetings at all. At that same time they claim this is a democracy, but how can that be if they do not allow political groups to meet and discuss the situation and search for solutions?

“When I was nineteen I was arrested for being a member of the PFLP/Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and spent the next 17 years in jail. I was nervous when I got there and I was tortured for months. Then a strange thing happened. They gave me a shower, clean clothes, then put me in a clean room and spoke to me like a human being. Then the French Ambassador came in and told me he could get me out because my father had French citizenship. He asked me where did I want to go and I answered; Jerusalem! He said it was impossible, I was not allowed. I told him I would rather remain in prison if I could not go home and so I spent 17 years and that is where I learned there is no justification for anyone to take another life. Those who kill are not Muslims.

“I was an eyewitness on October 8, 1990 when a group came to put a cornerstone where they want to rebuild the Temple. The Dome of The Rock is also what the Israelis call The Temple Mount, [the site where Abraham went to sacrifice his second born son, Isaac]. They want to destroy our Holy site but no archeologist has been able to say exactly where The Temple had originally been and they have been digging for seventy years.

“On that day they came I heard women shouting and crying. They were fainting from the tear gas! People got angry and threw stones at the soldiers and guards. Then hundreds of guards came onto The Noble Sanctuary and started shooting and 17 people were killed and 1,500 injured. They claimed we were throwing stones at the Wailing Wall but a Rabbi who had been over there said it wasn’t true at all.”

We walked the narrow stone streets that wind around and into an alley and come to a site known as the “Little Western Wall”, which is in the heart of the Muslim quarter. Construction has begun for a synagogue for women that will also prevent access in and out of the inner area, which is an apartment building where two or three Muslim families share one toilet.

Throughout the tour of the Muslim quarter Mahmoud points out the many cameras on the ancient stone walls and where the colonists/settlers have illegally confiscated Palestinian homes. "Within the Muslim and Christian quarters there are 70 locations where 1,000 Jews now live. We are under occupation and trying to have a better life and we have had some success. Before 1967 we had no universities and now we have twelve in the West Bank.

"I am a citizen of the Universe, but I live in Jerusalem."


We climb to the roof of Al Quds University in Jerusalem where short courses in Arabic are taught. The ancient stone buildings are marred by satellite dishes and lookout towers...




The following is excerpted from:  KEEP HOPE ALIVE


 

Harold lifted his almost empty pouch of Crown Royal and exclaimed, “Let’s toast the man, and then I’ll tell you what my daddy told me when I was a kid, when my brothers and I would get out of hand. He’d say, ‘boys, you all are going the way of Cain and Abel, and you’d better quit. For one of those boys was filled with so much hatred and jealousy that he killed the other.’ Then my old man would be on a roll, and he’d tell us about Sarah, Abraham’s wife. And we loved to hear that part, so we’d quit our fight. You see, although Sarah was already menopaused, she still desired a child. God had even shared a laugh with her about it coming true, but just like a woman, she took the matter into her own hands, and refused to wait for the Lord to deliver. So old Sarah decided to give her maidservant to her old man, and that chick and Abraham made a kid. Everything was fine when Ishmael arrived, but only for a very short while.

“Now, although Sarah was a dried-up old crone, she, too, birthed a son, and named him after the laughter she had shared with God, but called the kid Isaac. Sarah had gotten very territorial and demanded Abraham cast out his beloved first son with his mama Haggar, into the barren wilderness, and Abraham did it! But, as God always hears the cries of mothers and sons, he promised to make a great nation from Ishmael’s descendants, too. And thus, the Arab nation was born.
 
“By the sixth century before Christ, the conflicts in the land were already old news, and Jeremiah warned the people that all God could see was violence and destruction in the city. Sickness and wounds were all around. And then my old man would get tears in his eyes and softly recite:

‘For every misunderstanding, every condemning thought, every negative vibration, every tear torn from a heart, every time one grabbed and wouldn’t let go, and they only did it because they did not know. The Divine is within all creation and within all women and men.

‘And every tiny kindness you have ever done, every gentle word spoken, every time you held your tongue, every positive thought, every smile freely given, every helping hand that opens, helps bring in the kingdom. And the kingdom comes from above, and it comes from within. Imagine a kingdom of sisterhood of all creatures and all men.’”




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"HOPE has two children.The first is ANGER at the way things are. The second is COURAGE to DO SOMETHING about it."-St. Augustine

 "He who is not angry when there is just cause for anger is immoral. Why? Because anger looks to the good of justice. And if you can live amid injustice without anger, you are immoral as well as unjust." - Aquinas

BEYOND NUCLEAR: Mordechai Vanunu's Freedom of Speech Trial

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UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.


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The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© 1968, 2001 Kent M. Keith

" In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway."-Mother Teresa


“You cannot talk like sane men around a peace table while the atomic bomb itself is ticking beneath it. Do not treat the atomic bomb as a weapon of offense; do not treat it as an instrument of the police. Treat the bomb for what it is: the visible insanity of a civilization that has ceased...to obey the laws of life.”- Lewis Mumford, 1946



The age of warrior kings and of warrior presidents has passed. The nuclear age calls for a different kind of leadership....a leadership of intellect, judgment, tolerance and rationality, a leadership committed to human values, to world peace, and to the improvement of the human condition. The attributes upon which we must draw are the human attributes of compassion and common sense, of intellect and creative imagination, and of empathy and understanding between cultures."  - William Fulbright



“Any nation that year after year continues to raise the Defense budget while cutting social programs to the neediest is a nation approaching spiritual death.” - Rev. MLK
Establishment of Israel
"On the day of the termination of the British mandate and on the strength of the United Nations General Assembly declare The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion it will guarantee freedom of religion [and] conscience and will be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations." - May 14, 1948. The Declaration of the Establishment of Israel
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