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The Challenge of Jubilee

“…to bring good news to the poor… to proclaim release to the captives…

recovery of sight to the blind …to let the oppressed go free…to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (Jubilee).”

Naim-Ateek

The last fifty years have brought untold suffering upon our Palestinian people.  Our only crime was to say ‘no’ to the occupation of our country and to resist it as an aberration and which is illegal under international law. Since 1967, the Israeli government has been oppressing the Palestinians and denying them their human and political rights.

In 2017, Palestinians will be marking 50 years since the loss of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.  It is a fitting time to lift up the biblical concept of Jubilee when all those who were deeply in debt to others,enslaved by others,had their land forfeited to the stronger others, and were driven out from their agricultural lands by the militarily powerful others – to all those,in a Jubilee year, God expects and demands justice to be done.  Their rightful ownership must be restored.  God is a God of truth and justice; and justice and righteousness must be done in the land.

The challenge before us, at the 10th Sabeel International Conference, March 7-13, 2017,is to lift high, and focus on,the essence of the message of Jubilee.  It is a message of hope for all the poor and oppressed of the land.  It is a vision for the establishment of truth and justice for all the land and its inhabitants.  It is an inclusive message so that peace and security can be achieved for all.

In its essence, this vision of Jubilee requires the following:

  • The Israeli government needs to recognize the reality of the presence of the Palestinian people – Christians and Muslims in their land, Palestine.These inhabitants have been living in Palestine long before the establishment of the state of Israel. They are not here by accident.  God willed for them to be here from time immemorial.  They are the offspring of all the nations that inhabited the land for thousands of years.
  • By denying occupation, Israel is putting its head in the sand.The whole world recognizes the illegality of the occupation, and yet Israel says there is no occupation.Israel continues to live the lie that it can create facts on the ground that are irreversible. In fact, honesty and truth constitute the dawn of Jubilee.
  • Israel needs to recognize that Palestinians have rights that Israel has taken a way by force. These rights must be returned in accordance to justice in the eyes of God and in line with international law.  These rights must be returned.  This is the essence of the concept of Jubilee.
  • The rights of the Palestinian refugees are enshrined and guaranteed by international law and by God’s justice. The Jubilee demands their return and rehabilitation.
  • The Palestinian prisoners, detainees, and all those held under administrative detention, must be released so they can return to their families and to their normal way of life. It is a return of their dignity and humanity that they were stripped of by Israel.  This is Jubilee.
  • The cancellation of debts is also a sign of Jubilee, especially those debts that have been incurred as a result of heavy fines imposed on Palestinians who are unjustly accused and indicted. This is Jubilee.
  • Jubilee calls for the removal of all checkpoints and the tearing down of the apartheid wall and the guarantee of free access of Palestinians to Jerusalem and the rest of the country. It calls for the cessation of all measures to empty Jerusalem of its Palestinian population. This is what Jubilee means.

2017 is a Jubilee year because it allows us, as people of faith, to hear the cry of the oppressed in this land who have been denied freedom and to restore it to them.  It allows the government of Israel to listen to God’s voice, to the voice of the international community and to the voice of human morality and justice.  God has created us free and it is a sin and a crime for Israel to shackle and imprison us.

God has proclaimed a Jubilee year to call us to repentance and responsibility.  God is challenging us to respond to the demands of Jubilee.  God is calling on the government of Israel to seize this Jubilee opportunity, to return to its senses, to take the initiative, and to implement the requirements of Jubilee.  God is calling on the people of Israel to open their eyes and to listen to the voice of reason, morality, and justice.  Above all, to listen to God’s voice and proclaim liberation to all the people of the land for the benefit of all the people of the land. The psalmist wrote, “If you hear his voice harden not your hearts”  (Psalm 95).

Naim Ateek

Chair, Sabeel Board
Jerusalem
November 10, 2017

This prayer ministry enables local and international friends of Sabeel to pray over regional concerns on a weekly basis
Sabeel Wave of Prayer
December 1st, 2016

Strong winds and dry weather have fuelled hundreds of fires across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory last week. Tens of thousands of residents were evacuated from their homes. Major fires in Israel and Palestine are now under control.

  • We pray for all those affected by the fires that raged for days last week in Israel and Palestine. We especially pray for those who lost their homes, and for the rejuvenation of the destroyed land. We give thanks for those who worked hard to keep the fire at bay and for the many countries, near and far, who responded to the call for help to subdue the blaze. Lord in your mercy…
November 25th marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. According to statistics, the number of Arab women murdered in 2016 by family members and spouses has increased since 2015. On this occasion, Sixteen days of global activism kicked off.
  • Lord, as women across the globe face discrimination and violence, we pray for legal and societal changes which will curb the tide of violence against women. May we always be reminded of the daily struggle for justice that the majority of women around the world go through. We pray that perpetrators of violence against women will be held accountable for their actions. Lord in your mercy…
     
  • We pray that our new Sabeel edition of the Cornerstone, titled “Increase our Faith” which addresses the Issue of forgiveness will reach many people around the world. May justice prevail in our troubled land in order to achieve true peace and reconciliation. Lord, in your mercy…
November 29 was observed by the United Nations as International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people.
  • Lord, our hearts are united with all people everywhere who say “enough” to the ongoing occupation and the violence and oppression that has kept its hold on this land for too long.  May this day not just heighten the world’s awareness of the injustice that is part of daily life in Palestine but also give those in positions of leadership the will and courage to act in ways that lead to a just peace. Lord, in your mercy… 
     
  • We join the World Council of Churches by praying for the countries of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger. Lord in your mercy…

Strong winds and dry weather have fuelled hundreds of fires across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory last week. Tens of thousands of residents were evacuated from their homes. Major fires in Israel and Palestine are now under control.

  • We pray for all those affected by the fires that raged for days last week in Israel and Palestine. We especially pray for those who lost their homes, and for the rejuvenation of the destroyed land. We give thanks for those who worked hard to keep the fire at bay and for the many countries, near and far, who responded to the call for help to subdue the blaze. Lord in your mercy…
November 25th marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. According to statistics, the number of Arab women murdered in 2016 by family members and spouses has increased since 2015. On this occasion, Sixteen days of global activism kicked off.
  • Lord, as women across the globe face discrimination and violence, we pray for legal and societal changes which will curb the tide of violence against women. May we always be reminded of the daily struggle for justice that the majority of women around the world go through. We pray that perpetrators of violence against women will be held accountable for their actions. Lord in your mercy…
     
  • We pray that our new Sabeel edition of the Cornerstone, titled “Increase our Faith” which addresses the Issue of forgiveness will reach many people around the world. May justice prevail in our troubled land in order to achieve true peace and reconciliation. Lord, in your mercy…
November 29 was observed by the United Nations as International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people.
  • Lord, our hearts are united with all people everywhere who say “enough” to the ongoing occupation and the violence and oppression that has kept its hold on this land for too long.  May this day not just heighten the world’s awareness of the injustice that is part of daily life in Palestine but also give those in positions of leadership the will and courage to act in ways that lead to a just peace. Lord, in your mercy… 
     
  • We join the World Council of Churches by praying for the countries of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger. Lord in your mercy…
The Canadian Friends of Sabeel, a project of Necef Sabeel Canada, is committed to standing in solidarity with Palestinians, and raising awareness in Canada of the struggle of Palestinian Christians, while joining all people in Palestine and Israel striving for peace with justice toward reconciliation.
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