Website policy


We provide links to articles we think will be of interest to our supporters. We are sympathetic to much of the content of what we post, but not to everything. The fact that something has been linked to here does not necessarily mean that we endorse the views expressed in it.
_____________________

BSST

BSST is the leading charity focusing on small-scale grass roots cross community, anti poverty and humanitarian projects in Israel/Palestine
____________________

JfJfP comments


2016:

06 May: Tair Kaminer starts her fifth spell in gaol. Send messages of support via Reuven Kaminer

04 May: Against the resort to denigration of Israel’s critics

2015:

23 Dec: JfJfP policy statement on BDS

14 Nov: Letter to the Guardian about the Board of Deputies

11 Nov: UK ban on visiting Palestinian mental health workers

20 Oct: letter in the Guardian

13 Sep: Rosh Hashanah greetings

21 Aug: JfJfP on Jeremy Corbyn

29 July: Letter to Evening Standard about its shoddy reporting

24 April: Letter to FIFA about Israeli football

15 April: Letter re Ed Miliband and Israel

11 Jan: Letter to the Guardian in response to Jonathan Freedland on Charlie Hebdo

2014:

15 Dec: Chanukah: Celebrating the miracle of holy oil not military power

1 Dec: Executive statement on bill to make Israel the nation state of the Jewish people

25 Nov: Submission to All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

7 Sept: JfJfP Executive statement on Antisemitism

3 Aug: Urgent disclaimer

19 June Statement on the three kidnapped teenagers

25 April: Exec statement on Yarmouk

28 Mar: EJJP letter in support of Dutch pension fund PGGM's decision to divest from Israeli banks

24 Jan: Support for Riba resolution

16 Jan: EJJP lobbies EU in support of the EU Commission Guidelines, Aug 2013–Jan 2014

2013:

29 November: JfJfP, with many others, signs a "UK must protest at Bedouin expulsion" letter

November: Press release, letter to the Times and advert in the Independent on the Prawer Plan

September: Briefing note and leaflet on the Prawer Plan

September: JfJfP/EJJP on the EU guidelines with regard to Israel

14th June: JfJfP joins other organisations in protest to BBC

2nd June: A light unto nations? - a leaflet for distribution at the "Closer to Israel" rally in London

24 Jan: Letter re the 1923 San Remo convention

18 Jan: In Support of Bab al-Shams

17 Jan: Letter to Camden New Journal about Veolia

11 Jan: JfJfP supports public letter to President Obama

Comments in 2012 and 2011

_____________________

Posts

Pope hears calls of distress not of duty


Pope Francis prays at Israel’s separation barrier on his way to a mass in Manger Square next to the Church of the Nativity, Sunday, May 25, 2014. Francis called the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate “unacceptable” as he landed Sunday in the West Bank town of Bethlehem in a symbolic nod to Palestinian aspirations for their own state. Caption and photo AP / Ariel Schalit
For predictions of and preparations for his visit see Pope’s hopes

Pope Francis offers prayers at Israeli separation wall in Bethlehem

Four-minute stop rouses controversy as pontiff invites Peres and Abbas to Rome in an unprecedented papal intervention in peace process

By Peter Beaumont in Manger Square, Bethlehem, theguardian.com
May 25, 2014

Pope Francis confirmed his reputation for determined independence with an unscheduled stop to pray conspicuously for four minutes at the imposing Israeli separation wall as he passed through the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

The Pope’s prayer at a location replete with political significance and controversy came while he was traveling to an open-air mass in Manger Square.

The dramatic gesture was followed with an invitation to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Israeli president, Shimon Peres, to join him in Rome to meet and pray together for peace in an unprecedented Papal intervention in the troubled peace process.

“In this, the birthplace of the Prince of Peace, I wish to invite you, President Mahmoud Abbas, together with President Shimon Peres, to join me in heartfelt prayer to God for the gift of peace,” the Pope said.

“I offer my home in the Vatican as a place for this encounter of prayer,” Francis said.

Asked about the invitation, a spokeswoman for Peres said the Israeli president “always accepts any kind of initiative to promote peace”. While Abbas heads the Palestinian government, Peres’s presidential post is largely ceremonial.

Pope Frances has insisted that the purpose of his first visit to the Holy Land as pontiff was purely spiritual. And yet he has certainly not shied from making bold political gestures.

His route had been planned to pass close by the separation wall. Palestinian officials had hoped he might stop briefly to contemplate the Israeli built structure, which weaves through the occupied West Bank, but instead Francis stopped his calvacade, stepped out of the white, glass covered pick-up truck and made his way up to the wall, where he was quickly surrounded by children from the nearby Aida camp.

Approaching the wall, which is close to the main Israeli checkpoint by Rachel’s Tomb, Pope Francis put his palm to the towering concrete structure, covered with graffiti appeals to the Palestinian cause, and bowed his head in prayer, flanked by two girls with Palestinian flags. The heads of Israeli soldiers were visible at the window of a nearby watchtower.

Frances’ approach was remarkable in contrast to Pope Benedict XVI, who entered Bethlehem through the Rachel’s Tomb Israeli checkpoint. Previous popes have flown into Tel Aviv and then proceeded through Israel into Palestinian territory. Frances flew directly into Bethelehem from Amman, bypassing any Israeli borders.

His decision to pray at the separation wall appeared to surprise his own entourage. Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said: “I was not informed before. It was planned by him the day before. It was not on the plan of the trip.

“At a certain point the pope came very near the dividing wall and then he stopped the car and went down and came near to the wall and remained there for some minutes, silent near the wall, praying but in a silent way,” Lombardi said.

“Then at the end he touched the wall then we went away. It was not a kiss or a blessing, it was a sign of contact and I think it was very significant way to demonstrate his participation in suffering … it was done in a silent praying way, but without words. It was a profound spiritual moment in front of a symbol of division.”

In a carefully crafted statement, delivered in Bethlehem with Abbas, the pope recognised “the State of Palestine” and called on both sides to have the courage to make peace.

“For decades the Middle East has known the tragic consequences of a protracted conflict which has inflicted many wounds so difficult to heal,” the pontiff declared, describing the situation as “increasingly unacceptable”.

“Even in the absence of violence, the climate of instability and a lack of mutual understanding have produced insecurity, the violation of rights, isolation and the flight of entire communities, conflicts, shortages and sufferings of every sort.


Pope Francis touches the forehead of Palestinian reporter Imad Freij as he greets journalists during aboard the papal flight on his way to Jordan, Saturday, May 24, 2014. Photo by Andrew Medichini, AP /Pool

In expressing my closeness to those who suffer most from this conflict, I wish to state my heartfelt conviction that the time has come to put an end to this situation which has become increasingly unacceptable. For the good of all, there is a need to intensify efforts and initiatives aimed at creating the conditions for a stable peace based on justice, on the recognition of the rights of every individual, and on mutual security.

He added: The time has come for everyone to find the courage to be generous and creative in the service of the common good, the courage to forge a peace which rests on the acknowledgment by all of the right of two States to exist and to live in peace and security within internationally recognised borders.

Shortly after his prayer at the wall, Francis arrived at Bethlehem’s manger square, which was festooned with the Vatican’s yellow-and-white flags and the Palestinian green. Thousands of jubilant Palestinian Christians, gathered for an open-air mass outside the Church of the Nativity, cheered “Viva al-Baba!” or “Long live the pope!”

The ceremony began with a rendition of Mawatani (My Homeland), a song that speaks to Palestinian desire for independence .

Security was light. Frances had shunned the armoured popemobile used by predecessors.

Only two bodyguards stood on the back of Francis’ vehicle as Palestinian police kept the crowd at bay. Francis waved and smiled warmly as his car made its way through the crowd .

“I want the pope to see the situation of the Christians,” said Salib Safar, 23, a hotel management student in Manger Square for the papal mass. “The wall [separation barrier], the occupation, the pressure on our lives.”

Palestinians call for the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails and to support prisoners who have been on hunger strike, in the West Bank in Nablus, Sunday, May 25, 2014. The writing on the poster reads, “Pope… We want our prisoners… Free! ” Photo by Nasser Ishtayeh, AP.

Francis acknowledged the Palestinian Christian hardship and in his homily sought to encourage the younger generations with a strong plea for children around the globe to be protected and defended from war, poverty, disease and exile as refugees.

Pope Francis waves to the crowds at Manger Square. He invited the Israeli and Palestinian presidents to come to the Vatican to pray for peace a month after US-backed talks aimed at ending the Middle East conflict collapsed.

Pope Francis waves to the crowds at Manger Square. He invited the Israeli and Palestinian presidents to come to the Vatican to pray for peace a month after US-backed talks aimed at ending the Middle East conflict collapsed. Photograph: Mohamad Torokman/reuters

“All too many children continue to be exploited, maltreated, enslaved, prey to violence and illicit trafficking,” he said, standing in front of a mural of the nativity scene in which the baby Jesus is wrapped in the black-and-white checkered Palestinian headdress. “Today in acknowledging this, we feel shame before God.”

After the mass, Francis ate lunch with Palestinian families and visited a Palestinian refugee camp before flying to Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion airport. He will then travel on to Jerusalem.

At the start of his weekly Cabinet meeting, theIsraeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, called the pope’s visit “an opportunity to present to the world the real Israel – the advanced, modern, tolerant Israel.” Israel, he said, guaranteed freedom of religion for all faiths.

Israeli police have deployed 8,000 officers in Jerusalem with 320 CCTV cameras monitoring Jerusalem’s old city. Early on Sunday, 26 Israelis were arrested for throwing stones at police officers and causing disturbances at a Jerusalem holy site where the pope will celebrate mass at the end of his trip


Israeli, Palestinian presidents agree to meet Pope Francis at the Vatican in June

By Josef Federman, Associated Press /ctv news
May 25, 2014

BETHLEHEM, West Bank — Pope Francis plunged Sunday into Mideast politics during his Holy Land pilgrimage, calling the current stalemate in peace efforts “unacceptable” and winning the acceptance from the Israeli and Palestinian presidents to pay a symbolic visit to the Vatican next month to pray for peace.

Francis issued the surprise, joint invitation after landing in Bethlehem, the cradle of Christianity, in a symbolic nod to Palestinian aspirations for their own state. In another unscripted moment, he prayed at the Israeli separation barrier surrounding the biblical West Bank town and briefly donned the checkered black and white headscarf that is a symbol of the Palestinian cause.

Jubilant Palestinians cheered Francis as he arrived in Bethlehem’s Manger Square, shouting “Viva al-Baba!” or “Long live the pope!” Giant Palestinian flags in red, white, green and black and the Vatican’s yellow-and-white flags decorated the square, which is home to the Church of the Nativity, built over Jesus’ traditional birth grotto.

At the end of Mass in the square, Francis invited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres to pray with him for peace, saying: “I offer my home in the Vatican as a place for this encounter of prayer.”

The offices of the Israeli and Palestinian presidents quickly confirmed that they had accepted the invitation, with the Palestinians saying the meeting would take place in June.

The invitation — and the acceptances — were unexpected given Francis’ insistence that his three-day visit was “strictly religious” pilgrimage to commemorate a Catholic-Orthodox anniversary. But it showed that the pope, who is named after the peace-loving St. Francis of Assisi, has been able to channel his immense popular appeal to be a moral force for peace, even though the proposed meeting will be largely a symbolic affair.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks broke down in late April, and there have been no public high-level meetings for a year.

Peres, a 90-year-old Nobel Peace laureate, is set to step down over the summer, and the meeting would take place shortly before he leaves office.
Peres, whose job is largely ceremonial, has no authority to negotiate peace, and the meeting will be merely symbolic. But he nonetheless risks upsetting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the move.

Netanyahu has expressed anger with politicians that have reached out to Abbas at a time when the Palestinian leader is reconciling with the Islamic militant group Hamas. Israel considers Hamas a terrorist group. There was no immediate comment from Netanyahu’s office.

Francis started out the second day of his three-day Mideast trip with a deeply symbolic decision to land in at a Bethlehem helipad, arriving from Jordan aboard a Jordanian helicopter. Previous popes have always come to the West Bank after first arriving in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Palestinian officials hailed Francis’ decision to arrive first in Bethlehem, and to refer to the “state of Palestine.” In its official program, the Vatican referred to Abbas as the president of the “state of Palestine,” and his Bethlehem office as the “presidential palace.”

“It’s a blessed day,” said Samar Sakkakini, 52, a Palestinian-American from Canton, Michigan, who attended the Mass in Manger Square. “Coming to Bethlehem and flying to Bethlehem from Jordan shows solidarity with the Palestinian people, which is wonderful. We need that.”

In November 2012, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly recognized a “state of Palestine” in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem — lands Israel captured in the 1967 war — as a non-member observer. The recognition still has little meaning on the ground, with Israel remaining in full control of east Jerusalem, which it annexed in 1967, and the West Bank.
Israel objects to the Palestinian campaign, saying it is an attempt to bypass negotiations.

Standing alongside Abbas at a welcome ceremony, Francis declared: “The time has come to put an end to this situation which has become increasingly unacceptable.”

He said both sides needed to make sacrifices to create two states, with internationally recognized borders, based on mutual security and rights for everyone.

“The time has come for everyone to find the courage to be generous and creative in the service of the common good,” he said, urging both sides to refrain from any actions that would derail peace.

In his remarks, Abbas voiced his concerns about the recent breakdown in U.S.-backed peace efforts and lamented the difficult conditions facing the Palestinians. He also expressed hope for peace.
“Your visit is loaded with symbolic meaning as a defender of the poor and the marginalized,” he said.

Abbas listed a series of complaints against Israel, including continued settlement construction, the plight of thousands of Palestinian prisoners, Israel’s control of east Jerusalem — the Palestinians’ would-be capital — and Israel’s construction of the “ugly wall” that encircles Bethlehem.

“We welcome any initiative from you to make peace a reality in the Holy Land,” Abbas said. “I am addressing our neighbours — the Israelis. We are looking for the same thing that you are looking for, which is safety, security and stability.”

Security was lax by papal standards, even for a pope who has shunned the armoured popemobile that his predecessors used on foreign trips.
Only two bodyguards stood on the back of Francis’ vehicle keeping watch as Palestinian police kept the crowd at bay. Francis waved and warmly smiled as his car made its way through the crowd in Manger Square, at one point holding a child passed up to him.

In addition to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Francis also sought to encourage Palestinian Christians, whose numbers have dwindled as the conflict drags on.

Currently, Christians are roughly 2 per cent of the population of the Holy Land, down from about 10 per cent at the time of Israel’s establishment in 1948. In Bethlehem, they are less than one third of the population.
Francis acknowledged the Palestinian Christian hardship and in his homily sought to encourage the younger generations with a strong plea for children around the globe to be protected and defended from war, poverty, disease and exile as refugees.

“All too many children continue to be exploited, maltreated, enslaved, prey to violence and illicit trafficking,” he said, a mural depicting the Nativity scene with the baby Jesus wrapped in the black-and-white checkered Palestinian headdress behind him. “Today in acknowledging this, we feel shame before God.”

After Mass, Francis had lunch with Palestinian families and visited a Palestinian refugee camp before flying by helicopter to Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion airport for the Israeli leg of his trip.

Open air mass in Manger Square, Bethlehem, Sunday, May 25, 2014. Photo by Andrew Medichini / AP, Pool

Print Friendly

Comments are closed.