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Letter from the Episcopal Bishop of Jerusalem

Aug 07, 2006

A copy of this letter was sent to me from a reader in New Zealand, where it was read in his church:

The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East

Bishop Riah, the Episcopal Bishop in Jerusalem, on the current crisis in the Middle East

Dear Friends,

For the past forty years we have been largely alone on this desert fighting a predator that not only has robbed us of all but a small piece of our historic homeland, but threatens the traditions and holy sites of Christianity. We are tired, weary, sick, and wounded. We need your help.

We have seen and we have been the recipients of the generosity of our American and British friends. We cherish the support of everyone throughout the world who stands with us in solidarity. Daily, I hear from many of them who express outrage at the arrogant and aggressive positions of President Bush, Secretary Rice, Senator Clinton, and Prime Minister Blair. I am saddened to realise just how much the deserved prestige of the United States and Britain has declined as a result of politicians who seem to devalue human life and suffering. And, I am disturbed that the Zionist Christian community is damaging America's image as never before.

Little more than a week ago, we were focused on the plight of the Palestinian people. In Gaza, four and five generations have been victims of Israeli racism, hate crimes, terror, violence, and murder. Garbage and sewage have created a likely outbreak of cholera as Israeli strategies create the collapse of infrastructures. There is no milk. Drinking water, food, and medicine are in serious short supply. Innocents are being killed and dying from lack of available emergency care. Children are paying the ultimate price. Even for those whose lives are spared, many of them are traumatised and will not grow to live useful lives. Commerce between the West Bank and Gaza has been halted and humanitarian aid barely trickles into some of the neediest in the world.

Movement of residents of the West Bank is difficult or impossible as "security measures" are heightened to break the backs of the Palestinian people and cut them off from their place of work, schools, hospitals, and families. It is family and community that has sustained these people during these hopeless times. For some, it is all that they had, but that too has been taken away with the continued building of the wall and check points. The strategy of ethnic cleansing on the part of the State of Israel continues.

This week, war broke out on the Lebanon-Israeli border (near Banyas where Jesus gave St. Peter the keys to heaven and earth). The Israeli government's disproportionate reaction to provocation was consistent with their opportunistic responses in which they destroy their perceived enemy.

In her recent article, "The Insane Brutality of the State of Israel," American, Kathleen Christison, a former CIA analyst says, "The state lashes out in a crazed effort, lacking any sense of proportion, to reassure itself of its strength." She continues, "A society that can brush off as unimportant an army officer's brutal murder of a thirteen year old girl on the claim that she threatened soldiers at a military post (one of nearly seven hundred Palestinian children murdered by Israelis since the Intifada began) is not a society with a conscience." The "situation" as it has come to be called, has deteriorated into a war without boundaries or limitations. It is a war with deadly potential beyond the imaginations of most civilized people.

As I write to you, I am preparing to leave with other bishops for Nablus with medical and other emergency supplies for five hundred families, and a pledge for one thousand families more.

On Saturday we will attempt to enter Gaza with medical aid for doctors and nurses in our hospital there who struggle to serve the injured, the sick, and the dying.

My plan is that I will be able to go to Lebanon next week - where we are presently without a resident priest - to bury the dead, and comfort the victims of war. Perhaps as others have you will ask, "What can I do?" Certainly we encourage and appreciate your prayers. That is important, but it is not enough. If you find that you can no 
longer look away, take up your cross. It takes courage as we were promised.

Write every elected official you know. Write to your news media. Speak to your congregation, friends, and colleagues about injustice and the threat of global war. If Syria, Iran, the United States, Great Britain, China and others enter into this war - the consequence is incalculable. Participate in rallies and forums. Find ways that you and your churches can participate in humanitarian relief efforts for the region. Contact us and let us know if you stand with us. I urge you not to be like a disciple watching from afar.

2 Corinthians 6.11

"We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians, our heart is wide open 
to you. There is no restriction in our affections, but only in yours. 
In return - I speak as to children - open wide your hearts also."

In, with, and through Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Riah H. Abu El-Assal

Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem



According to the well-known Evangelical Rapturist, Hal Lindsey:

Russia, Iran, and Syria have entered a defense pact that is in the process of altering the balance of power in the entire Middle East. Russia's part in the pact has been kept relatively secret for a long time. But the facts reveal a long steady Russian commitment to the Iranian nuclear program and arms supply to Syria.

"A Mossad General shared with me in confidence thathe had personally traced the hiring and important to Iran 283 of the defunct Soviet Union's top nuclear and missile scientists. This meeting took place in February of 1991. . . .

"The foreign ministers of Iran and Syria, Mostafa Najjar and Hassan Turkmani, signed the pact in Tehran on June 15th, 2006."

I find this date to be of interest, because it is the day of our online prayer campaign called "God Is Able." Among other things, the prayer stated:

"According to your word (Mark 11:23), we ask that you remove this mountain and cast it into the sea, that the counterfeit kingdom, which currently deceives and blinds your people, would be removed. Cast out the bondwoman [Hagar = Jerusalem] and every system that brings men into bondage. . ."

See also the instructions for the prayer campaign posted on June 15.

Hal Lindsey focuses primarily upon Russia, believing that Ezekiel 38, 39 blames Russia for the attack on the old land of Israel. In fact, it was Russian Jews who conquered by immigration, as I proved in chapter 15 of my book, The Struggle for the Birthright.

Remember the four United Nations observers whom the Israelis killed recently at their observation post? It's not unlike the Israeli attack on the U.S.S. Liberty decades ago. The Israelis deliberately attacked it in order to keep their operations secret from America, killing many American servicemen. It was an act of war, which the president decided to bury.

Well, this time the attack on the four U.N. observers cannot be buried so easily, because a high-ranking Chinese official was among those killed. This rankled the Chinese greatly, and so now they are sending aid to the Lebanese. The Israelis really know how to make people angry. They are certainly not being a blessing to all the families of the earth. Instead, as Scripture says, they have become a curse to all nations because of their violent nature and insistence upon stealing whatever they want in the name of God. And then they blame others for fighting back, as if they have no right to do so against God's "chosen."

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Blog Author: Dr. Stephen Jones