Lutheran bishop appeals to Jerusalem’s Christians, Jews, Muslims

Jerusalem, 9 December (ENI)–Holy Land Lutheran Bishop Munib

Younan has issued an appeal for Jews, Christians and Muslims to

respect each others’ faith and religious traditions in Jerusalem

and the rest of the land of Jesus’ birth.


Bishop Younan wrote in an article published on 9 December in

Israel’s daily Haaretz newspaper that an opportunity had been

missed in October with the rare convergence of the Jewish High

Holidays and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.


Instead of shining the way towards reconciliation, Bishop Younan

wrote, the Jewish and Muslim holiday period “became a showcase

for exclusive claims of one religion over another, of freedom for

some at the expense of others”.


He noted that Palestinians were “locked behind barricades,

closed-off streets and even denied access to their holy sites”

during the Jewish holiday period. Israel often steps up security

around sites of pilgrimage for Jews during the Jewish New Year

period, including around the Western Wall.


It also closes its frontier with the West Bank and Gaza Strip,

citing security reasons such as planned bomb attacks by

Palestinian militants. Thousands of pro-Israeli, evangelical

Christians also converge on the Holy City during that period to

participate in Feast of the Tabernacles celebrations.


Bishop Younan said the Israeli security precautions hurt

Palestinian Muslims and Christians living in Jerusalem. “These

measures do not guarantee security: they only guarantee

inconvenience and humiliation and might increase the chance that

people might be  provoked,” he wrote.


The Palestinian-born Bishop, who studied in Finland, said it was

time for the three monotheistic faiths in the Holy Land to

practise mutual respect for each others’ faiths. “If Jesus were

to look out at Jerusalem today, he would weep again over a

Jerusalem that is being turned into the exclusive realm of one

group at the expense of others,” said Younan.


He added that he wished for a time when Jews, Muslims and

Christians in the Holy Land “will be able to freely celebrate our

diverse, but equally sacred feasts”.


Ecumenical News International

Daily News Service