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The "Peace Pilgrimage" of May 2002

In May of 2002, Bishop Shaw led a delegation of pilgrims to Israel and the West Bank, where they met with private citizens and public officials, including Yasser Arafat (but apparently no Israeli official). On his return he held a press conference (reported on the Diocesan web site)[http://www.diomass.org], in which he acknowledged the fear that Israeli citizens experience as a result of the suicide bombings. But he also had this to say about the Palestinians, and about the conflict in general:

"The Palestinians have suffered enormously from the occupation and the military actions of the Israeli government against the infrastructure of the Palestinian governmental authority. The physical destruction is severe and extensive, but even that is not what most impressed me. The Palestinian people I met seem to have lost hope. And they are angry at what the Israelis have done. On both sides it seems to me that there is a sense of hopelessness and little idea of how to move forward. . . . [T]he mistrust between the Palestinians and Israelis is so deep that I do not see a way for them to live together without our support. The Israelis I spoke with do not trust the Europeans to help. Therefore, we . . .need to bring pressure on our elected leaders to insist that President Bush become engaged in the peace process. . . . Certainly, one of my primary goals now is to work toward changing our government's stance toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I hope to meet with our elected leadership in the near future about what can be done to bring peace to the region."

Bishop Shaw could easily have been echoing the words of the Palestinian Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, H. B. Michael Sabbah in his most recent Pentecost message: " On this day of global Pentecost prayers, in a spirit of solidarity and peace, we call for the establishment of a Palestinian State, alongside the State of Israel, already existing 54 years. We call for an end to the occupation of one peoples' lives and lands by another people, that is, Palestinians under the control of Israelis." (emphasis added)

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Bishop Shaw with Mr. Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the PLO Executive Committee and President of the Palestinian National Authority.
Bishop Thomas Shaw with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat.


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