Graphics by Alex
|Jesus was Palestinian and why it matters|
The only time this observer recalls Yassir Arafat ever becoming frustrated with the late American journalist Janet Stevens, whom he adored as a daughter, was during a visit in August of 1982 when the PLO leader, mentioned in conversation, as he often did to others, that Jesus Christ was a Palestinian. Arafat, a devout Muslim, was proud of that fact.
“For Christ’s sake, Abu Ammar, please don’t tell me about Jesus just now! We have got to get this child out of Lebanon or she will surely die!”
The PLO leader once recalled a special meeting when, on short notice, Pope John Paul invited him to the Pontiff’s summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, Italy. It was September 19, 1999, the 17thAnniversary of the Sabra-Shatila Massacre.
Arafat described how both his and the Popes eyes brimmed as the successor of St. Peter stunned Arafat with his deep knowledge and sadness of what was perpetrated during the nearly 50 hours of non-stop slaughter in the Beirut refugee camp.
They considered them as part of the makeup of the original landscape with deep roots in this land and that they have a right to live in the place where they were born and to fully exercise their undeniable Right of Return if they were ethnically cleansed.
The Palestinians of Lebanon, and those in solidarity with their struggle to Return, are much encouraged by his call for dialogue and reconciliation in Lebanon. His words, following last Sundays Angelus blessing: “My apostolic trip to Lebanon, and by extension to the whole of the Middle East, is taking place under the sign of peace,” and his emphasis on “the particular need for peaceful coexistence between Christian and Muslim communities in Lebanon and the region” are shared by all people of good will.
|Demonstrators calling for Palestinian human rights in Lebanon march from south Beirut to downtown.|
One hopes that Pope Benedict, as head of much of Lebanon’s Christian community, will encourage his large following among members of Parliament, the more than 800 religious and political leaders in Lebanon, to make a 90 minute oblation. Ninety minutes is the time required in Parliament to repeal the racist 2001 law that makes it a criminal offense for Palestinians in Lebanon to own home. As part of the same oblation, Lebanon’s leaders could glorify God by enacting the right to work for Palestinian refugees here, an elementary civil right accorded to every other foreigner in Lebanon and every refugee around the world, including apartheid Israel.