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28 April 2013 Edition

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Christian church leaders speak out against Israeli occupation

Palestine Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox clergy meet TDs and senators in Dáil and politicians in Belfast

• Reverend Naim Stifan Ateek (Anglican), Archbishop Theodosius Hanna (Orthodox) and Reverend Peter Madros (Catholic) chat amongst themselves following their meeting with TDs and senators in Leinster House

‘Both us Christians and Muslims are second-class citizens’

THE leaders of the three main Christian churches in Palestine took part in an Oireachtas cross-party Friends of Palestine event in Leinster House in April to speak out against the illegal Israeli occupation of their country and talk about what can be done by people in Ireland to help.

They also presented a copy of the Kairos Palestine document to legislators which outlines the situation of Christians in Palestine. The delegation (organised by Sadaka – The Ireland Palestine Alliance) also visited Belfast and spoke to various religious leaders across Ireland.

Palestinian Christians are considered ‘the invisible people’ in a conflict which the media frequently portrays as being between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims. But Christians make up about 3% of the Palestinian population in the occupied territories.

“People need to remember: bombs don’t distinguish between Muslims and Christians,” says Rev Fr Peter Madros of the Catholic Church. “Both us and Muslims are second-class citizens. In a way we are worse off than others as the West frequently backs the Jewish people while Arab states provide support for Muslims – no states provide support to the Christian population.”

Anglican Reverend Naim Stifan Ateek says the three leaders are “very proud of the courageous stand taken by the Teachers’ Union of Ireland” which voted at its annual conference to support an academic boycott of Israel. They said they consider Ireland to be Palestine’s closest ally in the EU Parliament.

All three urge people to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign as a form of external pressure. Ateek adds: “The occupation is our enemy. Israel, with its settlements, is trying to kill the two-state solution. A one-state solution will be an apartheid solution.”

» The Kairos Palestine document  can be downloaded HERE

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