We will talk about and show you how people live now in this very troubled land. I plan to discuss not just the biblical shrines and churches, but also share the many perspectives we heard from Palestinians and Israelis.
The politics is complicated and, frankly, it is crucial that we as Americans get a firmer (and less naive) understanding. I hope you can join us tonight.
The story below came across last night about our bishop in Jerusalem, the Right Rev. Suheil Dawani, (pictured below) and the difficulties he's had with Israeli authorities renewing his residency permit to live in East Jerusalem. We spent an evening with Bishop Dwali, and I will tell you about some of what he told us and his witness for peace and justice against many odds. Please pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
Please also keep the United Nations in your prayers this week as it considers resolutions by the Palestinians for statehood. I have a few things to say about that, and I will share them with you here soon. Here is the story from Episcopal News Service:
By ENS staff, September 27, 2011
[Episcopal News Service] The residency permits and visas that enable Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem Suheil Dawani and his family to reside legally in Jerusalem have been reinstated after 13 months of the documentation being denied by Israel's Ministry of Interior.
"I want to thank all of you, my friends and colleagues throughout the Anglican Episcopal Communion and the worldwide Christian community, for your continued support throughout this time," said Dawani, a Palestinian Christian, in a Sept. 27 letter sent to international partners. "It has been deeply appreciated and most encouraging knowing that we have been kept in your thoughts and prayers as we awaited this most heartening outcome."
Many international religious leaders -- Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the Anglican Communion primates, and the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem -- had joined in the diplomatic efforts calling for the documentation to be reinstated.
The House of Bishops in March wrote to Israel's ambassadors serving in nations where the Episcopal Church has dioceses or a presence, calling for their help in resolving the matter as soon as possible.
"I have been overwhelmed by the support given to me," said Dawani in his letter. "Please know that in my heart I give you all great thanks..."
Israel's Ministry of the Interior denied the residency permit for Dawani, his wife and his youngest daughter on the grounds that the bishop had allegedly sold Israeli land illegally to Palestinians. Dawani also was accused of forging documents. Dawani has denied all allegations, none of which have been substantiated by any documentary evidence.
The bishop attempted to resolve the matter -- sending letters to the Ministry of the Interior and the nation's attorney general in which he asked to know the specific charges against him and requested reinstatement of the residency permit -- but much of his communication went unanswered.
Dawani's episcopal ministry requires him to travel throughout the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, which includes parishes and institutions in Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian Territories. Dawani has held a residency permit for Jerusalem since 2007. Being without the permit since August 2010, Dawani has been unable to visit or minister to many of the Christian communities he leads throughout the Holy Land.