Monday, March 12, 2012

398 The Bible's Not their Title Deed - Catholic Church rejects "Promised Land" & "Chosen People" claim to West Bank

The Bible's Not their Title Deed -  Catholic Church rejects "Promised Land" & "Chosen People" claim to West Bank

This pronouncement by the Catholic Church is very important, addressing the sentiments Zionist regularly use to press their claim for Judea and Samaria (the West Bank territory of the Palestinians).

Yet, Western reporting of this story seemed to focus on the Israeli response more than on what the Church said.

I searched Google News on "promised land" on October 25 & 26.

This Protestant news site exaggerated the Church statement:

Vatican: 'Jews Have No Claim to Promised Land'
theTrumpet.com http://www.thetrumpet.com/index.php?q=7572.6156.0.0

Israel cannot use the biblical concept of a promised land or a chosen people to justify … territorial claims ...

This South African site got the message right:

Palestine is not Israel's 'promised land': Archbishop
http://www.timeslive.co.za/world/article723440.ece/Palestine-is-not-Israels-promised-land--Archbishop

This Russian site also highlighted the main point:

Vatican rejects "chosen people" claim, calls on Israel to end "occupation"
http://rt.com/Politics/2010-10-25/vatican-israel-palestinians-catholic.html

JTA (Jewish Telegrapg Agency) also did well:

Israel can't use Bible to justify claims, Mideast synod says

http://www.jta.org/news/article/2010/10/24/2741414/mideast-synod-says-israel-cant-use-bible-to-justify-claims

Euronews, on the other hand, chose a headline focusing on the Israeli response:

Israel rejects Catholic criticism
http://www.euronews.net/2010/10/25/israel-rejects-catholic-criticism/

And the New York Times chose a bland title that missed the important point:

Bishops at Meeting Urge Israel to End Its Occupation of Palestinian Territories
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/24/world/europe/24vatican.html?_r=1

The following items are various news reports about this matter. Pay particular attention to the headline/title of each report.

(1) Palestine is not Israel's 'promised land': Archbishop
(2) Vatican rejects "chosen people" claim, calls on Israel to end "occupation"
(3) Israel can't use Bible to justify claims, Mideast synod says
(4) Bishops at Meeting Urge Israel to End Its Occupation of Palestinian Territories
(5) Israel rejects Catholic criticism
(6) West Bank occupation unacceptable: Vatican
(7) Vatican body asks UN to 'end Israeli occupation'
(8) Bishops Ask UN to Help Bridge Israeli-Palestinian Divide
(9) Hariri hails Catholic bishops' call to end Israeli occupation
(10) Israel's Chief Rabbi: 'The Vatican doesn't' have to tell us how to interpret the Bible'

(1) Palestine is not Israel's 'promised land': Archbishop

http://www.timeslive.co.za/world/article723440.ece/Palestine-is-not-Israels-promised-land--Archbishop

Palestine is not Israel's 'promised land': Archbishop

Oct 23, 2010 4:54 PM | By Sapa-AFP

Israel cannot claim Palestinian territory as its promised land citing the Bible to justify its occupation and the expulsion of Palestinians, a Catholic archbishop said.

Cyril Salim Bustros, head of the Greek Melkite Church in the United States, made his comments after the Middle East synod of Catholic bishops called on the United Nations to implement its resolutions and end Israeli occupation of Arab lands.

The synod's final statement, drawn up by a commission headed by Bustros, also said that "recourse to theological and biblical positions which use the Word of God to wrongly justify injustices is not acceptable.

"On the contrary, recourse to religion must lead every person to see the face of God in others and to treat them according to their God-given prerogatives and God's commandments, namely, according to God's bountiful goodness, mercy, justice and love for us."

Speaking at press conference, Butros said: "The theme of the promised land cannot be used as a basis to justify the return of the Jews to Israel and the expatriation of the Palestinians."

"For Christians one can no longer talk of the land promised to the Jewish people," he said, because the "promise" was "abolished by the presence of Christ."

In the kingdom of God, which covers the whole world, "there is no longer a favoured people, a chosen people, all men and women of every country have become the chosen people," the Lebanese-born Butros said.

Hardline Jewish settlers in particular claim their right to build on Palestinian territory by saying it forms part of biblical Israel, the land promised by God to the Jews according to the Old Testament.

Butros also warned against the risk of Israel becoming an exclusively Jewish state, with a consequent threat to the 1.5 million Muslim and Christian Arabs living there.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to introduce a controversial loyalty oath to Israel as a "Jewish state" to apply to both Jews and non-Jews wanting to become citizens.

He has also made a freeze on settlement building conditional on Palestinian recognition of Israel's Jewish identity in what has been widely seen as a ploy to complicate US-backed peace efforts.

(2) Vatican rejects "chosen people" claim, calls on Israel to end "occupation"
Published 25 October, 2010, 16:31

http://rt.com/Politics/2010-10-25/vatican-israel-palestinians-catholic.html

A high-ranking Israeli official on Sunday slammed a statement from Catholic bishops, who called for international organizations to lead the cause of Palestinian statehood.

Greek-Melchite Archbishop Cyrille Bustros sparked an interreligious firestorm when he suggested that Israel was "using Scripture" to continue its occupation of Palestinian territory.

"The Holy Scriptures cannot be used to justify the return of Jews to Israel and the displacement of the Palestinians," Bustros said at the close of a two-week conference in Rome, Italy, "to justify the occupation by Israel of Palestinian lands."

The Archbishop then questioned the biblical idea of a "promised land" set aside by a specific group of people.

"We Christians cannot speak of the promised land as an exclusive right for a privileged Jewish people," Bustros continued. "This promise was nullified by Christ. There is no longer a chosen people – all men and women of all countries have become the chosen people."

Bustros led the group that drafted the synod's concluding statement on Israel and the Palestinians.

The controversial comments came at the conclusion of a two-week Vatican conference assembled to discuss the plight of Christians in the Middle East.

Pope Benedict XVI was in attendance at the synod and celebrated Mass in St. Peter's Cathedral on Sunday with the bishops.

Israel responds

On Sunday, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon criticized the concluding statement of the conference, saying the forum has been "hijacked by an anti-Israeli majority."

"We express our disappointment that this important synod has become a forum for political attacks on Israel in the best history of Arab propaganda," Ayalon said in a statement. "The synod was hijacked by an anti-Israel majority."

Ayalon then called on the Vatican to distance itself from the comments, which the Israeli official said amounted to "libel."

"We call on the Vatican to distance themselves from Archbishop Bustros' comments which are a libel against the Jewish People and the State of Israel and should not be construed as the Vatican's official position," the foreign minister said in his statement. "These outrageous comments should not cast a shadow over the important relationship between the Vatican, the state of Israel and the Jewish people."

The Palestinian Authority, however, praised Bustros' comments.

"Israel cannot use the biblical concept of a promised land or chosen people to justify new settlements in Jerusalem or Israeli territorial claims," Saeb Erakat, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, said in a statement released Sunday.

Erakat said the synod sent "a clear a message to the government of Israel that it may not claim that Jerusalem is an exclusively Israeli city."

"The Palestinian people will thus have an independent and sovereign homeland where they can live with dignity and security," the statement continued optimistically. "The State of Israel will be able to enjoy peace and security within their internationally recognized borders."

"The Holy City of Jerusalem will be able to acquire its proper status, which respects its particular character, its holiness and the religious patrimony of the three religions: Jewish, Christian and Muslim," it said. "We hope that the two-state-solution might become a reality and not a dream only."

Pope Benedict XVI first called for a two-state solution to the Middle East crisis during a visit to the region in May 2009 when he voiced the Vatican's support of a sovereign Palestinian homeland. At the time, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was opposed to a two-state solution. ...

(3) Israel can't use Bible to justify claims, Mideast synod says
http://www.jta.org/news/article/2010/10/24/2741414/mideast-synod-says-israel-cant-use-bible-to-justify-claims

October 24, 2010

(JTA) -- A meeting of Mideast bishops declared that Israel cannot use the Bible to justify territorial claims to land in Israel.

The final statement of the two-week Synod of Bishops of the Middle East in Rome that ended Saturday blamed Israel for the conflict between the Jewish state and the Palestinians.

It rejected the use of the biblical position of the Promised Land to justify Jewish settlement of the West Bank.

"Recourse to theological and biblical positions which use the Word of God to wrongly justify injustices is not acceptable," the bishops said.

The statement called for a two-state solution to the conflict and to create a peaceful atmosphere that will prevent an exodus of Christians from the region.

The document also criticized Jewish settlement of Jerusalem, saying that "We have meditated on the situation of the holy city of Jerusalem. We are anxious about the unilateral initiatives that threaten its composition and risk to change its demographic balance."

Participants included more than 170 Catholic bishops from Muslim countries, as well as other Church figures and non-Catholic representatives and experts.

Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon rejected the statement.

"We express our disappointment that this important Synod has become a forum for political attacks on Israel in the best history of Arab propaganda," Ayalon said. "The Synod was hijacked by an anti-Israel majority."

In his Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Benedict XVI called on countries in the Middle East to guarantee religious freedom to non-Muslims. He said Middle East peace and a two-state solution were vital to solving the problems of the region.

"Peace is possible. Peace is urgent. Peace is an indispensable condition for a life worthy of the human person and of society," the pope said. "Peace is also the best remedy to avoid immigration from the Middle East."

(4) Bishops at Meeting Urge Israel to End Its Occupation of Palestinian Territories

By RACHEL DONADIO

Published: October 23, 2010

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/24/world/europe/24vatican.html?_r=1

VATICAN CITY — Bishops from across the Middle East on Saturday urged Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian territories so that a two-state solution could be found swiftly.

In a final communiqué at the end of a two-week-long meeting at the Vatican on the plight of Christians in the Middle East, the bishops also urged Israel not to use the Bible "to wrongly justify injustices," apparently referring to Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

But in a news conference Saturday, the archbishop in charge of the committee that drafted the communiqué, Cyrille Salim Bustros, appeared to go further, saying the Bible did not justify a Jewish presence in Israel.

"The concept of the promised land cannot be used as a base for the justification of the return of Jews to Israel and the displacement of Palestinians," he said. "Sacred scripture should not be used to justify the occupation by Israel of Palestine."

Archbishop Bustros, of Newton, Mass., belongs to the Greek-Melkite church, an Eastern Rite church whose bishops participated in the Vatican's annual Middle East synod.

Israeli officials called on the Vatican to clarify the comment. "I think this ambiguity should be lifted by authorized voices from the Vatican," said Yigal Palmor, the spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said that the written communiqué was the official message of the meeting, not the remarks of Archbishop Bustros.

The communiqué calls for a two-state solution so that the Palestinians would have "an independent and sovereign homeland where they can live with dignity and security," and "the State of Israel will be able to enjoy peace and security within internationally recognized borders."

"If you read the text of the message," Father Lombardi said, "it's clear, it talks about the security of Israel and the rights of Palestinians who also have a right to their state."

The statement also criticized some Zionists who use the Bible to justify the Jewish presence in the occupied territories, saying that "recourse to theological and biblical positions which use the word of God to wrongly justify injustices is not acceptable."

The message said that in a two-state solution, special status should be given to Jerusalem as a city holy to Christians, Jews and Muslims.

The bishops also blamed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for causing tensions that resulted in the exodus of Christians from the region. In recent decades, the number of Christians in the Middle East has declined radically, largely because of war, instability and changing economic conditions.

Mr. Palmor noted that Israel was the only country in the Middle East where the Christian population had risen in recent years, because of immigration.

The bishops called on countries across the region to foster the economic and security conditions for Christians to live securely, and urged Christians not to sell their property if they did emigrate.

The bishops also urged the Vatican to study allowing married priests from some Eastern Rite churches to practice outside of their own dioceses, including in Western rite countries, to help alleviate the shortage of priests.

(5) Israel rejects Catholic criticism
25/10 07:25 CET

http://www.euronews.net/2010/10/25/israel-rejects-catholic-criticism/

Israel has reacted strongly to Vatican criticism over the government's building of settler homes in Jerusalem.

The Catholic Church accused the Jewish state of using the biblical concepts of "a promised land" and "a chosen people" to justify its policy.

Yigal Palmor, spokesman for the Israeli government said: " It has never been any Israeli government's policy to use the scriptures as a justification for anything. When we hear such statements all we can say is `let he who has not sinned cast the first stone`."

The Catholic comments came at the end of the church's two week synod in Rome, attended by bishops from around the world, and over seen by Pope Benedict XVI.

Israel has been widely condemned for refusing to
to extend a moratorium on settlement building and has announced plans to build another 238 homes in East Jerusalem.

(6) West Bank occupation unacceptable: Vatican
John Lyons, Middle East Correspondent    The Australian    October 25, 2010  12:00AM   

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/west-bank-occupation-unacceptable-vatican/story-e6frg6so-1225942961688

THE Vatican has issued one of its strongest condemnations yet of Israel's "occupation" of the West Bank.

It has rejected the use of biblical texts by Jewish settlers to justify "injustices".

Releasing a strongly worded document by the synod of bishops for the Middle East, a senior Archbishop also challenged the notion of Jews as "the chosen people", saying such a concept no longer existed.

After a two-week conference, which ended with a meeting with the Pope, the bishops called on the international community to pressure Israel to end the occupation.

"Recourse to theological and biblical positions, which use the word of God to wrongly justify injustices, is not acceptable," the statement said.

At a news conference, the head of the committee, Greek-Melchite Archbishop Cyrille Bustros, said: "The Holy Scriptures cannot be used to justify the return of Jews to Israel and the displacement of the Palestinians, to justify the occupation by Israel of Palestinian lands. "We Christians cannot speak of the promised land as an exclusive right for a privileged Jewish people.

"This promise was nullified by Christ. There is no longer a chosen people -- all men and women of all countries have become the chosen people."

The bishops called for a two-state solution, saying this would allow Jerusalem to acquire its "proper status -- which respects its particular character, its holiness and the religious patrimony of the three religions: Jewish, Christian and Muslim."

Only 2.1 per cent of those living in Israel are Christian -- the Vatican says there is a slow decline but Israel says while the percentage is low in absolute numbers, Christians are growing but being outnumbered because of Jewish and Muslim birthrates.

Israeli spokesman Yigal Palmor told The Australian he was surprised by the strength of the Vatican statement and that it was both theological and political.

"The debate over who holds the correct interpretation of the scriptures was something debated in the Middle Ages and it would seem unwise to try to revisit that," he said.

Asked about the criticism of the use of the Bible to justify Jewish settlements on Palestinian land, Mr Palmor said: "Firstly, this has not been any official policy in Israel by any government and, secondly, he who has not sinned should cast the first stone -- that is something they should understand."

Additional reports: Agencies

(7) Vatican body asks UN to 'end Israeli occupation'

In final statement of two-week conference, bishops' synod says Biblical concept of 'promised land' cannot be used to justify settlements

Published: 10.23.10, 14:00 / Israel News

Reuters

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3973590,00.html

Israel cannot use the Biblical concept of a promised land or a chosen people to justify new "settlements" in Jerusalem or territorial claims, a Vatican synod on the Middle East said on Saturday.

 In its concluding message after two weeks of meetings, the synod of bishops from the Middle East also said it hoped a two-state solution for peace between Israel and the Palestinians could be lifted from dream to reality and called for peaceful conditions that would stop a Christian exodus from the region.

"We have meditated on the situation of the holy city of Jerusalem. We are anxious about the unilateral initiatives that threaten its composition and risk to change its demographic balance," the message said.

US-brokered peace talks have stalled since Israel rejected appeals to extend a temporary moratorium on settlement construction in the West Bank that expired last month.

 Since the freeze expired, Israel has announced plans to build another 238 homes in two east Jerusalem neighborhoods, drawing the condemnation of Palestinians and world leaders.

 In a separate part of the document, a section on cooperation with Jews, the synod fathers also took issue with Jews who use the Bible to justify settlements in the West Bank, which Israel captured in 1967.

 "Recourse to theological and biblical positions which use the Word of God to wrongly justify injustices is not acceptable," the document said.

 Many Jewish settlers and right-wing Israelis claim a biblical birthright to the West Bank, which they call Judea and Samaria and regard as a part of historical, ancient Israel given to the Jews by God.

Asked about the passage at a news conference, Greek-Melchite Archbishop Cyrille Salim Bustros, said:

 "We Christians cannot speak about the promised land for the Jewish people. There is no longer a chosen people. All men and women of all countries have become the chosen people.

 "The concept of the promised land cannot be used as a base for the justification of the return of Jews to Israel and the displacement of Palestinians," he added. "The justification of Israel's occupation of the land of Palestine cannot be based on sacred scriptures."

 The synod's concluding message repeated a Vatican call for Jerusalem to have a special status "which respects its particular character" as a city sacred to the three great monotheistic religions -- Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

 Jerusalem remains a key issue of dispute. Palestinians want east Jerusalem for capital of a future state. Israel has annexed the area, a move never recognized internationally, and has declared Jerusalem to be its "united and eternal" capital.

 Israel did not include east Jerusalem as part of its 10-month building freeze, though most plans there were put on hold in March, when the US protested reports of a new housing project leaked during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden.

 While recognizing "the suffering and insecurity in which Israelis live" and the need for Israel to enjoy peace within internationally recognized borders, the document was much more expansive and detailed on the situation of Palestinians.

It said Palestinians "are suffering the consequences of the Israeli occupation: the lack of freedom of movement, the wall of separation and the military checkpoints, the political prisoners, the demolition of homes, the disturbance of socio-economic life and the thousands of refugees."

 It urged Christians in the region not to sell their homes and properties. "It is a vital aspect of the lives of those who remain there and for those who one day will return there."

 It condemned terrorism "from wherever it may proceed" as well as anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and discrimination against Christians.

(8) Bishops Ask UN to Help Bridge Israeli-Palestinian Divide

VOA News

23 October 2010

http://www.voanews.com/english/news/Bishops-Ask-UN-to-Help-Bridge-Israeli-Palestinian-Disvide--105594253.html

Catholic Bishops from the Middle East are appealing to the United Nations and the international community to help find a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The bishops have been meeting in a regional assembly in Rome for the past two weeks.  In their concluding message, they said Israel should not use the Biblical concept of "a promised land" or "a chosen people" to justify the construction of more Jewish settlements in Arab East Jerusalem.

The bishops met with Pope Benedict before issuing their statement Saturday, which called for an end to Israeli "occupation" of Palestinian land, and for progress toward "an independent and sovereign homeland" for Palestinians.

In contrast, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday that Palestinians must recognize Israel as a Jewish state before Israel will be ready to end their conflict. 

The bishops said a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute - the same position held by the United States - would allow Palestinians to live with dignity within internationally recognized borders, and also would allow Israel to enjoy "peace and security."

Direct talks between Israel and Palestinians have stalled since Israel declared its 10-month moratorium on settlement construction in the West Bank has expired.  Palestinians oppose the building of any Jewish settlements on land they expect to be part of a future Palestinian state.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

(9) Hariri hails Catholic bishops' call to end Israeli occupation
By Agence France Presse (AFP) and The Daily Star

Compiled by Daily Star staff {Lebanon}

Monday, October 25, 2010

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=2&article_id=120751#axzz13MelDCJr

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri hailed Sunday a call by Catholic bishops for the international community to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, while Israeli officials reacted angrily to the appeal.

The "participation [of Christian thinkers] in challenging the Zionist project is a necessity for Muslims not to be left alone in this confrontation, and for Arabism not to be restricted to Islam," the Lebanese premier said in Beirut Sunday.

The bishops and patriarchs of the Middle East's Catholic churches said at a Vatican synod on the Middle East over the weekend that Israel cannot use the biblical concept of a promised land or a chosen people to justify new settlements in Jerusalem or territorial claims.

"Recourse to theological and biblical positions which use the word of God to wrongly justify injustices is not acceptable," said a final statement issued after a two-week synod chaired by Pope Benedict XVI.

The bishops' statement also called on the international community to take "the necessary legal steps to put an end to the occupation of the different Arab territories."

Palestinians welcomed a call from the synod's conclusions and highlighted the role of Christians in confronting the threat posed by Israel.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat welcomed the remarks, saying Christians were an "integral part of the Palestinian people" and blaming Israel for their emigration from the Holy Land, which he added "gravely damages … the prospects of our future state."

"We join the synod in their call to the international community to uphold the universal values of freedom, dignity and justice," he said in a statement.

The Palestinians also hailed the statement's call for Israel to "uphold its moral and legal responsibility to put a speedy end to the illegal Israeli occupation," an apparent reference to past UN resolutions calling for Israel to withdraw from territories occupied in 1967.

"This is a clear message to the government of Israel that it may not claim that Jerusalem is an exclusively Israeli city," Erakat said, referring to Arab East Jerusalem, which Israel seized in 1967 and claims to have annexed in a move not recognized by the international community.

In a separate part of the document, the synod fathers also called for peaceful conditions that would stop a Christian exodus from the region.

"We have meditated on the situation of the holy city of Jerusalem. We are anxious about the unilateral initiatives that threaten its composition and risk to change its demographic balance," the message said.

It urged Christians in the region not to sell their homes and properties. "It is a vital aspect of the lives of those who remain there and for those who one day will return there."

Israel slammed the critical remarks Sunday, qualifying them as "political attacks."

"We express our disappointment that this important synod has become a forum for political attacks on Israel in the best history of Arab propaganda," deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said in a statement. "The synod was hijacked by an anti-Israel majority," he added.

Hariri also called for a continued dialogue between religious groups in order to prevent the emigration of Christians from the Middle East. – AFP, Reuters, The Daily Star

(10) Israel's Chief Rabbi: 'The Vatican doesn't' have to tell us how to interpret the Bible'

http://www.ejpress.org/article/46808

by: Yossi Lempkowicz Updated: 25/Oct/2010 12:09

JERUSALEM (EJP)---Israel's Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger said the Vatican "doesn't have to teach us about interpreting the Bible", in a comment to remarks by a archbishop who said that the theme of the Promised Land "cannot be used as a basis to justify the return of the Jews to Israel and the expatriation of the Palestinians."

"For Christians, one can no longer talk of the land promised to the Jewish people," Archbishop Cyrille Salim Bustros, the Lebanese-born head of the Greek Melkite Church in the United States declared, in a press conference after a Vatican Middle East Synod.

"The priest doesn't have to teach us about interpreting the Bible. We don't teach them how to interpret the New Testament," Rabbi Metzger told EJP Monday in Berlin where he is attending a conference of the European Council of Jewish Communities (ECJC).

He however expressed the hope that this won't create a diplomatic incident with the Vatican.

On Sunday, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon slammed the Vatican synod statement hugely critical of Israel as "political attacks on Israel."

"We express our disappointment that this important Synod has become a forum for political attacks on Israel in the best history of Arab propaganda," Ayalon said. "The Synod was hijacked by a anti-Israel majority."

Bishops and patriarchs from the Middle East held a two week long meeting at the Vatican chaired by Pope Benedict XVI on the plight of Christians in the region.

In their statement, they called on the international community "to end the occupation of Arab lands."

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