Edition 2: No. 96
Papal visit to Palestine: What will change?
by Nassar Ibrahim
Photo: Vimeo, Catholic Church England/Wales
[Authors comment: What I write here is not related solely to the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis and the Patriarch His Beatitude; it applies equally to any Muslim personality or sheikh who visits occupied Palestine under any pretext]
On 25 May 2014 His Holiness Pope Francis, accompanied by Patriarch Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros al-Rahi, begins a two day visit to occupied Palestine. Today, May 25, is also the anniversary of the defeat of the Israeli army in Lebanon in 2000. And ten days ago was the 66 anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba; does this mean something to His Beatitude Patriarch, whom we greatly respect?
Al-Rahi says that the aim of this visit is pastoral. Well, our Lord Patriarch, it is one thing to say this while reality is something else entirely. As the Patriarch knows and we know, the position of Patriarch is certainly not only a religious one, as his “parish” is not separated from its people and their dreams, aspirations and rights, or that religion has nothing to do with the people on this earth!
The Palestinian people, including the “Parish” of the Patriarch, have been under occupation for over 66 years.
And Israel, as the Patriarch also knows, is not stupid. Israel is not interested in the “parish” of the patriarch, nor is it concerned with the Pope and his prayers in Jerusalem. Israel is interested in this visit as it provides them with a dose of propaganda about its humanity, democracy and respect for religions! Israel is thus using the visit to cover its brutal occupation of the Palestinians, including the “parish” of the Patriarch.
This visit, therefore, cannot be isolated and it will be used in political ways par excellence.
Your Holiness Pope Francis and His Beatitude Patriarch, you visit occupied Palestine and give your blessings to all of us Palestinians, both Christian and Muslim, and you pray at the holy places in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Will this do anything to change the bitter lives of Palestinians under occupation?
After a day or two Your Holiness and Beatitude Patriarch will leave, so what will you leave for the Palestinians? They will return, including your “parish”, to continue alone on their journey of pain. They will be prevented from praying where you pray, standing on the barriers that facilitated your access and they will suffer as usual. The Wall will continue to expand, they will be arrested and shot at, their lands and waters will be confiscated, their homes destroyed, trees uprooted…in a word, they will continue their lives under occupation. You, however, will return back home to continue your prayers, while the occupation continues as if nothing happened.
The Pope calls for peace between Palestinians and Israelis! Excuse me, Pope, but how will there be peace with occupation? What we want as a people, including your respected “parish”, is first of all to end the occupation, and only then to discuss peace. This makes sense, right? Before that, any talk about peace will remain just an upside down hope, where the memory, consciousness and the reality of the Palestinians (all of them, without exception) will be occupied by the bitterness and ravages of 66 years of occupation. By ending the occupation first, our prayers in Jerusalem will take on new meanings, where the Palestinians and your “parish” will pray freely to the Lord in celebration of freedom! ! !