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Thursday, August 10, 2006

 

'What Do You Imagine Happens To Others?'



Sophia at St. Jacobs Church in Rothenburg ob der Tauber as we light candles in churches and pray for Palestinian and Lebanese refugees right to return to their homes.

From:"Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal" riahasal@netvision.net.il

06 August 2006—in the evening

Dear Friends,

I regret coming to you again today, again with a story of hateful
behavior, but I believe that it is a story I am to tell.

I was scheduled to leave Tel Aviv on Swiss Air flight number 255D at
15:55 this afternoon. I proceeded as usual to the baggage and security
clearance area. After
asking me both relevant and non-relevant security questions, the young
woman security officer concluded by questioning why I did not have an
Israeli visa even though I was carrying an Israeli passport!! Then she
let me put my bags on the conveyor belt so that they could be screened,
after decorating both bags and my passport with blue and green
stickers. Then I saw her rushing to a supervisor who ordered the belt
stopped. Approaching me he asked, “English or Hebrew?” I responded,
“Please, Arabic”. Arabic is one of two official languages of the State
of Israel and I knew that it was my right in this “oasis of democracy”
to make that official request. Because I refused to speak other than
Arabic, because I informed them that I am an
Arab-Palestinian-Christian, and because down deep I knew that their
behavior was designed to humiliate me, I insisted in conversing with
them in the language I master which is Arabic, my mother tongue. At
that point, Tal Vardi, the Security Duty Manager also showed up and
insisted on speaking in any language other than Arabic. I refused. An
Arab from Nazareth who happened to be present offered to translate when
Mr. Vardi turned his back and turned toward me only to say, “You will
not fly today!”

I called Mr. Caesar Marjieh, Director of the Department for Christian
Communities who tried his best to assist me, but he did not succeed. I
waited two hours thinking that someone with enough courtesy and good
judgment would come, but to no avail. I had no alternative but to
return to Jerusalem and inform my friends who were expecting me in
Geneva today and London tomorrow of the situation. Later in the week I
will file a suit in the High Court against the Security Duty Manager
and his staff for violating my civil rights without cause.

My indignation is not for me, but it is for all people in occupied
territories who face this kind of oppression and humiliation every day
of their lives. This happened to an Anglican Bishop with special
identification given him by the Department of the Interior and the
Ministry of Religious Affairs. What do you imagine happens to others?

In, with, and through Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Riah H. Abu El-Assal
Bishop
The Diocese of Jerusalem
Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria

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