I had been inspired to make this visit after hearing one of my predecessors as Vice-President, Jan Sutch Pickard, speak of her own experience as an ecumenical accompanier at the Methodist Conference nearly 3 years ago, and so it was wonderful to be greeted by Jan at the Jerusalem Inter-Church Centre this morning. She has returned to act again as an ecumenical accompanier for the next 3 months in the
There have been over 600 Ecumenical Accompanists from 15 different countries since the programme started over 6 years ago, and now there are 24 people working in 6 teams for a 3 month period. They work in
The scale of the difficulties for those searching for a just and peaceful solution to the conflict in this land was made clear by Ray Dolphin from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. UN-OCHA monitor in detail the humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territory. Whilst the UN acknowledges that
UN-OCHA reports can be found on their website (firstname.lastname@example.org). One report focused on the
Faced with these daily challenges, many Palestinian Christians have moved abroad. Now Christians form only 2% of the population. Yusef Daher, the Executive Secretary of the Jerusalem Inter-Church Centre, who had organised our visit, told us of his own experience of being a Palestinian Christian living in
B’Tselem is one of many Israeli NGOs working to improve human rights in the country. It is committed to ensuring their own country lives up to the highest ethical standards, promoting accountability, the rule of law and universal respect for human rights. They were founded 20 years ago and have now developed an international reputation as a source of reliable and comprehensive information for journalists, researchers and diplomats. They have pioneered the use of video as a tool for human rights advocacy, and Risa Zoll and Lizi Sagi (pictured) told us how giving cameras to Palestinian families under threat from settler communities nearby has both enabled them to document human rights abuses but also helped to reduce violent incidents.
Rabbis for Human Rights is another impressive organisation. Their Executive Director, Rabbi Arik Ascherman told us about their work which focused on both human rights issues inside
Our day concluded with a meeting with the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Fouad Twal. He welcomed our visit and encouraged the
As the sun set we were able to make a brief visit to the heart of the Old City, and witness prayers being said at the Western Wall and above, on Temple Mount hearing the Muslim call to prayer. It was a parable of how close these two great faiths and communities are and yet the fact that barriers increasingly prevent one community from meeting with another, the reality, at least for the moment, is that the distance between one community and another is greater than ever.