Sunday, November 28, 2010

Wine not to buy from the wicked monks

The Cremisan Monastery that self-describes itself as juxtaposed between 'Israeli tower blocks and Palestinian luxury villas' (http://www.cremisan.org/index.html) in fact stands on land donated by Palestinians in the nineteenth century from a village slowly being encircled by Israel's new security fence.

The 'luxury villas' are, in fact, houses, belonging to Palestinian refugees who have seen most of the territory of their village illegally incorporated into Israel and whose property is often subject to demolition orders by the Israeli authorities (as they will not grant the permits that would give, even their school, a legal status). When having tried and failed to get a permit, the Israelis do demolish your home (or, in one case, your pigeon coup), they send you a bill, and if you do not pay it, you find yourself banished from such incidentals as access to health care! Many people apparently demolish their own homes (when all legal delay is expired) to save them the cost and the banishment.

The security barrier is presently under construction and, when complete, will both virtually surround the village and cut it off from its remaining agricultural holdings. The barrier has been moved closer to the village both so as not to run too close to the zoo in the valley below (presumably the animals were objecting to yet another fence obscuring their view of freedom) and so as not to encroach on the land of the monastery. Is this latter incidence a coincidence? As Private Eye would say, 'We do not think so' nor do the villagers. A suspicion that is given further confirmation by the fact that the monks are getting their own road so that they will not have to negotiate the security barrier. A side deal has obviously been struck to the detriment of the refugees, to the benefit of the monks, and if Jesus had not been resurrected, he would most certainly be rotating in his grave.

The Salesian Order to which these monks belong was founded by Don Bosco to work on behalf of the poor (especially children of the newly beggared industrial poor), that these monks can be so detached from their surroundings to believe that their neighbours are 'living in luxury' defies belief, that they collude with oppression is so beyond contempt that we need a new category for 'transcendent contempt'!

I suggest they get out of their wine vats, put on their sandals, take a short walk down the hill and visit one of the families in their 'luxury villa' preferably one of the outlying houses to the village which is going to get its own barrier. The main barrier cannot be diverted so this solitary house will have its own fence and manned gate (presumably). The mother of this family has been told that it might be an electrified fence which if her children touch it, they will die!

I wish I was making this up -as a Catholic myself, you do not know where to put your shame!

2 comments:

  1. Perhaps not wicked - just isolated, and bound up in their own lives and concerns. In that I suppose, they are not alone.

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  2. I do not use 'wicked' lightly, as far as we can see they colluded with the authorities to divert the barrier from their property, closer to the village, thus imprisoning the refugees further - and hardly an 'isolated' community since they market themselves in the 'world' quite freely; and, in any case, it is the singular failure of a monastic vocation to be either 'isolated' or 'bound up in your own lives'!

    Meanwhile, the villagers have brought their plight repeatedly to their notice, only to be told to 'write to Rome'.

    I think wicked is too kind a word...

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