Saturday, 9 May 2009




May 12, 2009 at 5:02 pm (Israel, Palestine, Religion)

By Angie Tibbs

12 May 2009

Angie Tibbs asks Pope Benedict XVI to justify his decision to shun the people of Gaza, including its Christian community, who are most in need of help, comfort, love and support in the wake of the Israeli blitzkrieg that left 1,400 civilians, including 400 children, dead.

It was with great shock, sadness and, yes, anger that I viewed the itinerary of your current trip to the Holy Land, a land beset by the unholiest of human actions.

I am very troubled and hugely disappointed that, as leader of the Catholic Church, you have chosen to ignore the people of Gaza who, just three months ago, were being bombarded from land, sea and air by the Israeli military.

Fourteen hundred of their loved ones, including over 400 children, were killed in that 22-day assault, killed without mercy by Jewish soldiers, supported by, in one Israeli survey, a “whopping 94 percent” of Jews in Israel.

Your Holiness, how can you justify this decision to bypass Gaza and its people? How can you reconcile not visiting a devastated people in a devastated land, living under a three-year siege, while you are partaking in activities in Israel? You are scheduled to meet with Israel’s two chief rabbis. Will you also meet with Gaza’s long-serving Catholic priest, Fr. Manuel Mussallam?

What, I wonder, is the real purpose of your visit?

Certainly, it is not to offer comfort, love and compassion to those that need it most. If this were the reason, you would have stipulated that Gaza and its people be an integral part of your journey.

You would meet with the families, sympathize with the victims of Israeli bombs, missiles, tanks. You would talk to the homeless. You would offer the people of Gaza some much needed encouragement, a spiritual uplifting, perhaps, as they struggle through an economic hardship deliberately imposed by their oppressors.

You would meet with the duly elected Palestinian leaders of Hamas, the only social, economic and resistance life line that the Palestinian people have ever had. I haven’t seen anyone else helping them, and obviously you have no intentions of helping them either. And that, to me, your Holiness, is truly unacceptable.

You are shunning the people who are most in need of help, most in need of comfort, most in need of love and support.

Can you not find it in your heart to walk among them, to reach out to them, to talk to them, to comfort them, to publicly pray for them?

Is this not what Jesus would do? Would Jesus not speak out in the midst of so much pain and suffering?

Are you not expected to display similar compassion and concern?

To turn your back on Gaza and its people will be a moral catastrophe, one that will reverberate throughout the ages. You will leave behind a legacy as the Pope who not only closed his eyes to a slow motion genocide being carried out against the Palestinian people, but also as the Pope who refused even to acknowledge the Palestinian people in Gaza during their time of great hardship.

I strongly urge you to reconsider your decision. The faithful of the world are watching. If, as we are told, there is a God, then he must be watching too.

The people of Gaza are waiting. Please, let this be their “miracle”.


Angie Tibbs

Angie Tibbs is a writer and activist. She can be reached at

This article was is also published on Dissident Voice.


Khudari calls on Pope Benedict XVI to visit Gaza

Related News.

Pope walks out of meeting after PA official criticizes Israel

Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Pope Benedict XVI left an interfaith meeting in Jerusalem early on Monday following a harshly worded attack on Israel by an Islamic judge, according to news reports.

The chief Islamic judge of the Palestinian Authority, Sheikh Tayseer Rajab Tamimi, had criticized Israel for “murdering women and children in Gaza and making Palestinians refugees, and declared Jerusalem the eternal Palestinian capital,” according to the Jerusalem Post.

Following his remarks, and before the meeting had officially ended, the pope reportedly left, although Israel’s Army Radio said Benedict shook Tamimi’s hand before leaving.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Tamimi had opened his speech with a story about Saladin, who had upheld the rights of Christians after conquiring Jerusalem, and stressed that Islam and Christianity should unite against “Israeli occupation and bring about an independent state.”

“Israel destroyed our home, exiled our people, built settlements, ruined the Muslim holy sites, and slaughtered women, children and senior citizens in Gaza,” he added.

Haaretz noted that the majority of people in the audience applauded the remarks, but that the conference’s organizers nonetheless tried to persuade the judge to end his speech.

Tamimi was apparently not actually on a list of speakers for the event, but took the podium anyway. According to Father Deferico Lombardi, the director of the Holy See’s press office, Tamimi’s remarks were “not previewed by the organizers of the interreligious meeting.”

In a statement responding to the incident, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said that “it is regrettable that Sheikh Tayssir Tamimi has abused an inter-religious meeting aimed at promoting dialogue and understanding between Christians, Jews and Muslims, in order to incite against Israel.”



May 9, 2009 at 7:29 am (Israel, Palestine, Religion)

The Coalition for Jerusalem has delivered a letter to His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI through the Apostolic Delegation Office in Jerusalem today 9th May 2009.

The full text follows:

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI,

Your visit to the Holy Land your Holiness comes, at a time when the indigenous people of this land, both Muslims and Christians are suffering under an extremely brutal military occupation. A great injustice has smothered this land over sixty years and the people, the victims, are Still suffering its ramifications today. Israel’s continuing military occupation of Palestinian territories Since1967, has furthered this injustice by separating and isolating, discriminating against, killing, incarcerating, prohibiting the movement and access to the Holy places for prayer, blockading, starving and denying medical treatment of millions of Palestinians.
Over 3.5 million Palestinians are still living in refugee camps, waiting with patient desperation for the implementation of their human, ethical and moral right to return to their homes.

In this context, the Palestinians welcome your Holiness to the Holy Land hopeful that your visit will bring with it the justice and peace the Palestinians have been longing for; they have endured and dearly sacrificed in order to achieve the just peace.

Your Holiness, You will pray in Jerusalem, the City Holy to the three monotheistic religions and a source of spirituality for millions more. As a result of Israel’s systematic policies that aim to turn Jerusalem into a Jewish capital of the Jewish State, Jerusalem is today rendered an isolated city though it is the home of over three hundred thousand Palestinians. These numbers and the high growth rate among the Christian and Muslim population of the city endangers the demographics and tries to ensure the maintenance of a Jewish majority. This in turn means that crimes of a routine nature like home demolitions, land and property confiscation, evictions, revocation of residency rights, high taxations, etc. are daily practices committed by Israel against the Palestinians in Jerusalem. Jerusalem today, and under the eyes and full knowledge of the International Community is witnessing yet another wave of Israel’s ethnic cleansing crimes that continue since 1948.

Your Holiness, Bethlehem will be another Palestinian city that You will visit. This little town that was an open and accessible city for all to visit and pray in, is today encircled by an eight-meter cement Wall that not only imprisons some 186,000 Palestinians but has also impoverished a whole population that has always been prosperous and productive. The alarming rate of emigration among Christians in general and in Bethlehem in particular, is but another indicator of the deteriorating situation.

Your Holiness will also visit Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum, a memorial that stands to remind us all of the brutality of the Human Being. We urge your Holiness that on this visit you will also remember and pay tribute to all the victims of the Second World War, the fifty five million that were killed as a result and not only the six million Jews.

We urge you to remember and pray for the Palestinians who are direct victims of this war. In asking for forgiveness for the atrocities committed by people in our recent history, we are hopeful that your Holiness will speak out against the continuing atrocities that are committed against the Palestinian people.

We welcome You to Jerusalem and the Holy Land and trust that your Holiness will not forsake the Palestinian people who look up to you for help to lift this injustice and to achieve their sacred rights of freedom, independence and self determination.

Mathew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”

May your pilgrimage be also instrumental in bringing peace, love and good will to All!

The Coalition for Jerusalem

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