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