Christian and Muslim leaders boycott Mike Pence’s Holy Land visit

People demonstrate against U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence
People demonstrate against U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence

US vice-president Mike Pence’s mission to the Holy Land to defend its shrinking Christian communities has been torpedoed by the refusal of Christian and Muslim prelates and Palestinian leaders to meet him.

The boycott was ignited by outrage over US president Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on December 6th. As this day is celebrated by Christians as the name day of St Nicholas, Mr Trump’s choice of date for his announcement was doubly insulting.

Christian and Muslim Arabs regard East Jerusalem as the occupied capital of a future Palestinian state, a position formally adopted by all 57 Muslim states at last Thursday’s summit in Istanbul. The US alone has recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Instead of beginning his tour on Sunday in Jerusalem and Bethlehem as planned, Mr Pence is set to arrive in Cairo next Wednesday for a brief meeting with president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi before flying to Jerusalem to meet Israeli president Reuven Rivlin and prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and to address Israel’s parliament. An evangelical Christian who urged Mr Trump to make his Jerusalem declaration, Mr Pence will be warmly welcomed by Israelis.

His stay in Cairo was curtailed when he was rebuffed by top Christian and Muslim clerics. Coptic pope Tawadros cancelled an audience with Mr Pence, arguing Mr Trump “did not take into account the feelings of millions of Arab people”. The pope heads the region’s largest Christian community, constituting 10 per cent of Egypt’s 93 million people.

The world’s leading Sunni scholar, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, asked, “How can I sit with those who granted what they do not own to those who do not deserve it?” – referring to US politicians and Israelis. The sheikh has organised an international conference of senior Muslim and Christian scholars on January 17th and 18th to boost opposition to Mr Trump’s move.

Cut off

Since Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has cut off all contacts with the US due to Mr Trump’s declaration, Mr Pence will not be received by Palestinian Authority figures either.

Fatah Revolutionary Council member Mohamed Lahham warned that if Mr Pence tried to visit East Jerusalem or the West Bank, “we will receive [him] with shoes” – meaning he will be pelted with footwear.

Brandishing Palestinian flags and placards condemning US policy, Christian and Muslim Palestinians held a protest in front of Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, the birthplace of Jesus. Christian community leader George Zinasaid that Trump has no right to forget the religious and historical significance of Jerusalem for Christians and Muslims or the holy city’s indigenous inhabitants.

While attending a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Beit Sahour, a town near Bethlehem, Jerusalem’s Latin patriarch, Emeritus Michel Sabbah, said: “Our oppressors decided to deprive us of the joy of Christmas . . . to offer us war instead of peace.”

Nazareth, the town where Jesus spent his childhood, has cancelled traditional singing and dancing during Christmas celebrations.

The custodian of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, Adeeb Joudeh, said he had refused to meet Mr Pence. To prevent sectarian squabbles, two Muslim families, the Joudehs and Nusseibehs, have for centuries held the key to the church, believed to have been built on the site of Jesus’s crucifixion and entombment. Christian officials said Mr Pence had not asked to visit the church.

Western Wall

The religious dimension of Mr Pence’s tour to the Holy Land has been reduced to a visit to the Western Wall, regarded by Jews as their holiest site. The wall is a remnant of the temple erected by Herod the Great on the mount that has long hosted the compound containing the 7th-century Dome of the Rock and 8th-century al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site for Muslims.

Last week a multi-faith Bahraini delegation, visiting Jerusalem to promote Palestinian-Israeli dialogue at a time of escalating tensions, was refused access to the compound, shunned by Palestinian officials and prevented by Palestinians from entering Gaza.

Mr Trump has been castigated by other Christian religious figures across the region. Patriarchate Louis Raphael Saki of the Iraqi Chaldean Catholic Church called on Mr Trump to reverse his decision. Damascus-based Melkite Greek Catholic patriarch Joseph Absi and all Christian bishops in Jordan also rejected the move.

Lebanon’s Maronite patriarch Cardinal Bechara al-Rai said Mr Trump’s move “violates international resolutions, defies international and regional will, and is a slap in the face of Palestinians, Levantine Christians, Muslims and all Arabs.”

He rejected Mr Pence’s mission as further foreign intervention in the region. “What destroyed us have been the wars provoked by external agents in Palestine, Iraq and Syria. and now, please spare us the melodrama of westerners asking us what they can do to save Christians.”

IRISH TIMES

  • Niemals

    US vice-president Mike Pence’s mission to the Holy Land to defend(?) its shrinking Christian communities…

    It is understandable why it has been torpedoed by the refusal of Christian and Muslim prelates and Palestinian leaders to meet him.

    • Danny Farah

      All these leaders talked and still do about saving Christians but nobody stepped up to the plate.
      While a lot of people didn’t want Saddam Hussein to continue his rules but it took hundreds of thousands to be killed and majority of the minorities which part of them Christians who have been there before even the muslims has suffered annihilation while the west just watched. But the Christians leaders here all they want to preserve Jerusalem since it’s a big money generator for them. What do they care about Middle Eastern Christians and they turned a blind eye on us all. They give us lip service about bringing them here but when come to the airports they were turned back. All bull if you ask me.

    • Sania

      Need to fight even by shovels contra each kind of evil, especially against fasci.

      • Niemals

        Fight your own wars if you love it so much, but don’t involve me – I don’t like wars.

        • Hind Abyad

          You’re fully involved Alzheimer.

  • Y K

    ‘ please spare us the melodrama of westerners asking us what they can do to save Christians.”’

    Of course, the moment the (Muslim) sh*t hits the fan, these “Christians” start whining about the “West” throwing them under the bus. 🙂

    • Hind Abyad

      Spare us your wailing wall.. go to the Hill.

      • Y K

        Nobody’s wailing for you, sista, that’s for sure.

        • Hind Abyad

          Did somebody ask you anything? Ask your shista.

    • Hannibal

      You should read history… The real history that is. The Patriarch is 100% right. All the wars in the ME have been instigated by foreign powers and they still are.

      • Y K

        You teaching me (or anyone else, for that matter) history is like a crab louse lecturing about personal hygiene.

        • Hannibal

          The troll is at it again. The attack swine of the filthiest and most aggressive state resurfaces. When he has nothing to argue about and when cornered like the roach he is, he resorts to personal attacks. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/190e42df2318df76fa1124093a4e692b2257cc35a177ae2d7cfe39cf876a029b.jpg
          See my middle finger in your face? That is self inflicted every time you behave like a low life nitwit.
          AND YES! Teaching you every day because you say stupid things every day you low life sewer scum.

          • Y K

            I never “attack” you, pal. I’m just stating the obvious. And in your case, the obvious doesn’t change. Sadly, I might add.

            Nice photoshopping, by the way. Is that what you’re trying to market at your “startup”? Hope you’re not planning to leave your day (night?) job for this. 🙂

          • Hannibal

            Another oxymoron… It shows how conflicted you are. You need meds for schizophrenia. “I am not attacking… Stating the obvious (hidden attack)” You rare really backward. Hey it is Sunday and I am going to Church so I will pray for you so you follow Jesus and get some peace.

          • Y K

            “Hey it is Sunday and I am going to Church”

            Good that you reminded me! Haven’t dropped by the Satanists for ages now. I think it’s time to pay them a visit: X-mas spirit, all that crap. Plus, they throw cool parties! 🙂

          • Hannibal

            Sad!

          • Hind Abyad

            Y K and follower Scradje Khazarian sites Professional Internet Warriors .
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3ed5de80a4286ae3bd2c5069ed048d90c134f29989e2eb3995b5771794e0a686.jpg

            “Discussion on Euromaidan Press 17 comments
            A guide to Russian propaganda. Part 4: Russian propaganda operates by law of war

            Scradje – zorbatheturk 2 days ago
            Ukip has been a kremlin asset since Farage took over and influenced his supporters to revere the rodent. In the US the problem is worse: the ‘alt-right’ is massive and is simply a code word for ‘pro-putin’. Infowars (Alex Jones) and Breitbart (Bannon) are the spearheads, but the amount of alt-right websites and publications is staggering. These sites will ban you for knocking the rodent; breitbart blew me out in 2014, yet it allows its …blabla..”

          • Hannibal

            “We have defeated the wrong enemy” General Patton

          • Y K

            Sure. In Patton’s eyes it should have been Scradje instead of Hitler. 🙂

          • Hind Abyad
          • Y K

            You are so bottomlessly stupid it must hurt. Not to mention the inevitable dehydration from the uncontrollable verbal diarrhea.

          • Hind Abyad

            Rouh la jhanam rabid Nazi pitbull . You reject Steby Bandera?

          • Scradje

            ?…

          • Y K
          • Scradje

            Still none the wiser!

          • Y K

            I was referring to Abyad’s crazy reference to you. She evidently thinks you’re some kind of sinister Banderite puppeteer pulling the strings from behind the curtain. 🙂

          • Scradje

            I see! It is actually a bizarre substance created by Spike Milligan for an episode of The Goon Show. In the old DT comments, kremkipper troll imbeciles used to refer to me as ‘the Polish Troll’. I blocked Abyad so didn’t see her sh#t.

          • Hind Abyad
          • Hind Abyad
          • Rainbow Sponge

            Don’t you have anything better to do?

          • Y K

            She’s already taken her pills. Nothing else to do until lunch. 🙂

          • Rainbow Sponge

            LOL she liked your post. Is this some sort of bug? Hope the new iOS fixes this problem. 🙂

          • Y K
          • Hind Abyad

            This is Aleppo today with thousands of Syrians celebrating the first anniversary of its liberation. The US wanted the city to fall into the hands of headchopping Jihadist groups in the name of freedom. Seems these thousands of people didn’t count in the eyes of the US.
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7e161d6e7231222a53a9058a35700cc65e49e2b8bf33970072cf1f378b2f9ea9.jpg

        • Hind Abyad

          Disgusting head full of nauseating morbid filth..go away to the Hill.

          • Y K

            What hill, you crazy hag? Hill of Evil Counsel? 🙂

          • Hind Abyad

            The Hill means Go “go to Hell”, to Harry’s Place.. Elders of Ziyon.. Ukraine Today.. Washington Times.. Middle East Monitor, to your full time job..
            Here you language is not tolerable abusive and very aggressive, not doing any service to Zionists.

          • Hind Abyad

            Hag your sister.

  • Hannibal
    • Y K

      Business as usual in the Islamic Republic of Crapistan.

      • Sania

        iudje, take the words with attention, or it is the school of bastardje the ukra fasci…

        • Niemals

          Are you high on some drugs, or you just can’t write in English?
          Write in your own mother tongue, if you can do it….

          • Hind Abyad

            Learn US Slang Alzheimer.

          • Sania

            Are u feel humble pie for good inglish speaking dogs of war?

          • Niemals

            I don’t feel anything for you 👎

          • Sania

            I did not touch u, and I do not understand empty words
            ur covered writing position is not a symbol of great mind…🔕

          • Niemals

            Goodnight 💤💤💤 have some sweet dreams.

          • Sania

            turn off milling machine.
            not a dream, but statement like peace in Crimea, and for my sorrow not in Donbass