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14132Archbishop Hanna Attallah cries for Palestinian Unity

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    Nov 9, 2010
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      http://blog.nj.com/dr_aref_assaf/2010/11/a_man_on_a_mission_archbishop_hanna_attallah_cries_for_palestinian_unity.html

      A man on a mission: Archbishop Hanna Attallah cries for Palestinian Unity
      by OCP on November 7, 2010
      Dr. Aref Assaf

      6/11/2010

      Close to 500 people were treated last Sunday to a most moving speech
      by Archbishop Hanna Attallah who traveled from Jerusalem to be the
      keynote speaker at the 42nd Annual Convention of the US-based United
      Holy Land Fund. Theodosios (Hanna) of Sebastia (born 1965) is the
      Archbishop of Sebastia from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of
      Jerusalem. Ordained on the 24 December 2005 at the Church of the Holy
      Sepulchre, he is the second Palestinian to hold the position of
      Archbishop in the history of the diocese.

      His eminence, delivered in perfect Arabic a most passionate plea for
      the world leaders and peoples to view the tragedy of the Palestinian
      people as one deserving their fullest attention. Over sixty years of
      suffering, dispossession and living in the Diaspora, he asserted, is
      far too long a punishment. More importantly, he was poignantly
      demanding the different Palestinian factions to reunite their efforts
      under the umbrella of national unity. The linkage between justice and
      political influence, he asserted, is a weapon Arabs and Palestinian
      Americans must employ in effecting pro-justice and pro Palestine
      policies. The Archbishop's eloquence, demeanor and stately presence
      were a source of elation for many in the audience. They were also
      sufficiently indicative of how leaders can stir uneasy feelings about
      how inadequate is our commitment to celebrating and nurturing
      political narratives while remaining proactively committed to
      defending our national struggle.

      The core of his message was the centrality of Jerusalem in the
      realization of Palestinian national aspirations. He stated that
      "there will be no Palestine without Jerusalem as its capital. It is
      ridicules to imagine Palestine without Jerusalem, because it beats in
      the heart of every Palestinian. In addition to that, Israel tries to
      change the features of Jerusalem through its development projects
      like the light train, the malls or the parks. They are trying to make
      the Palestinians foreigners in their own city. According to
      international law, Jerusalem is still an occupied city, thus it has
      no right to change anything in it. Whatever was the final agreement
      between the Israelis and the Palestinians, the Palestinians should
      have the free right to enter their city without any restrictions, and
      also they must have the right to live in it, build their homes and
      reside in it without the interference of anyone. The Palestinians in
      Jerusalem are in their city and country not a stranger. The treatment
      of the Palestinian as outsider is by itself a racist action."

      As for the support Israel receives from so called Christian Zionists
      in the US, the Archbishop was adamant that the Orthodox Church as all
      churches in the Holy Land refuses to give excuses from the bible for
      the unjust treatment of the Palestinian people." He added he was
      "very sorry to hear about some religious groups in the United States
      that support the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.
      Such support cannot be justified from a Christian point of view
      because Christianity is against any sort of occupation and the
      injustice in it all forms and rationalization. These groups need to
      re-read their bible, because the bible calls us to stand with the
      marginalized and the oppressed and not with the oppressors.

      For those who use the bible to support Israel need to differentiate
      between God's promise and the Balfour promise (Balfour Declaration),
      because the occupation is the result of a promise given to the
      Israelis by Lord Balfour and not by God.
      God is innocent from the unjust actions of the Israeli occupation of
      our land since '48 and until now."

      On a joyous side note, we were treated to the introduction of Dr.
      Leila Ghannam who is the first woman to ever hold the title of
      "Muhafeth' or Governor for the Ramallah and Al-Biereh Governorate.
      Dr. Ghannam, spoke of the Palestinian educational achievements under
      the most difficult circumstances of statelessness and military occupation.

      I was particularly impressed with her important statements
      considering that we languish under a suffocating military occupation,
      our people have surpassed expectations. But I was more troubled with
      what she alluded to about the challenges and serious deficiencies our
      youth faces in Palestine. While we are proud of the number of
      graduating students each year, I worry about providing opportunities
      for them to translate their education into tangible and productive
      achievement for our people.

      It was refreshing to hear her reassuring words that our people will
      overcome the bleak conditions of disunity and the occupation.
      Palestinian Americans can and must play a decisive role in moving our
      people ever closer to achieving their dream of sovereignty and
      independence. As a son of a refugee who passed away recently, his
      dream of returning to his village, Allar, unfulfilled, I am burdened
      with the future of our people. Palestine lives in our hearts and
      conscience and its love and suffering is manifested into our actions
      or lack thereof. Many of us work superbly as individuals but we can
      never seem to work as a united group. I know more can and needs to be
      done. As you visit other cities in the US, please tell our people to
      unite and to work together for the cause of beloved Palestine. Sadly,
      political and ideological divisiveness has reached our shores. You
      need to remind us of what we are.

      The United Holy Land Fund, which is a registered non profit tax
      exempt entity in the US, raised close to $100,000 which will go to
      help Palestinian students with their college tuition. The UHLF is led
      by a dedicated group of volunteers based in Illinois, US and has
      branches in several States.