Hart of the Matter #8: Riah Abu El-Assal

My guest tonight is a Palestinian Arab. On one occasion when he was stopped at a checkpoint and asked if he was carrying a weapon, he answered “Yes”. He was then ordered by tense Israeli soldiers to move to a safe distance and take the weapon out of his suitcase. With Israeli guns trained on him, he slowly removed a Bible. “This is the only weapon I have ever carried”, he said, “and it’s the only weapon I need.”

He was, and is, Riah Abu El-Assal, who, on 6th January 1998, was consecrated to serve a nine-year term as the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem – a Diocese which includes Syria, Lebanon and Jordan as well as Israel/Palestine.

Bishop Riah was born in Nazareth. He was 12 when the Zionist state of Israel came into being. At the time he was on holiday in Lebanon with his family. Overnight the family became refugees, and it took his father 10 years to obtain permission for the family to return to their home in Nazareth. Most of the other 800,000 Palestinians who were dispossessed of their land and their rights were not so fortunate.

Bishop Riah is a man who speaks his mind. And that made him an enemy so far as Israel’s military, political and security establishments were, and are, concerned. Even as the Bishop of Jerusalem he was subjected to travel bans and humiliation at checkpoints.

5 comments on this post.
  1. Bruce N:

    Bishop Riah is correct in stating that God promised the land not to the Jewish people but to Abraham. He says that Jews did not appear until Moses. The face is that nobody is referred to as Jews until the second dispersion of the kingdom of Judah (thus Jews)and is mentioned in the story of Queen Esther. It is very doubtful that European Jewry has much if any actual bloodline going back to these “jews” who were restored to the land under Nehemiah. God did promise the land to the descendants of Abraham – these have been so scattered into humanity that only God can tell where the strands of DNA have found themselves – if not into every nation.

  2. Josué Cohen Zlochisty:

    Religion has to be separated from this issue because the UN resolutions are not based in the existence of any deity but in international Law and Human rights, if we base the resolution of the israeli-palestinian conflict on religious bases both sides are right in their land claming, because both religions have to be regarded as valid if things are to be fair.

    But Zionism is wrong from both sides, secular and religious, first the Talmud prohibits the stablishment of a Jewish State without a Messiah, clearly the Messiah is not here as we don’t have world peace, second the Torah forbids murder.
    If Zionism is legal for Jews then any claim of land from any ethno-linguistic collectivity anywhere in the world based on a religious legend has to be given approval (i.e. the Aztlan movement.

    From secularism Jews as an ethnolinuguistic collectivity were apatrides in Europe for centuries, curiously despite some incidents of antisemitism they were protected and prosperous in muslim kingdoms and Caliphates. The existence of a Jewish state was understandable at that time because an apatride people will be always at the mercy of the country they live in but today, all Jews have citizenship of the countries they live in but Zionism creates the illusion of an “imminent Holocaust” anywhere in the world to generate fear and force Jews to emigrate there.
    The truth is, despite some spots of antisemitism around the world, Jews have full citizenship in their respective countries so they are no longer apatrides and enjoy the same rights as any other citizen, they have passports, pay taxes, own property and are part of their countries, so there is no need of an ethnic Jewish State in which non-Jews are not granted the same rights of Jewish citizens.

    In fact before WWII, both religious and non-religious Jews hated Zionism, religious Jews because it was secular and because there was no Messiah and non-religious Jews because it was an obstacle for the integration of Jews in modern society and treathened to wipe out the differences between the different Jewish groups in the Diaspora by putting them under one single social scheme (just look what they did to yiddish)
    Most secular Jews were Bundists, specially in Soviet Russia.

    So Israel needs to change and move to post-zionism.

    Sincerely from a Mexican Jew

  3. Bambang:

    … ” The 4th Geneva Convention does not apply to Gaza or the West Bank since at the time of ratification neethir territory was under the jurisdiction of any state at the time. “That is a statement completely unfounded in either law of reason. It’s like saying the constitution doesn’t apply to Kansas because it became a state after the constitution was written.International treaties are made between sovereign political bodies (governments or states) and not between pieces of land. The State is Israel is a party to the Geneva conventions, the obligations and rights inhering therein are upon that state whatever is geographical jurisdiction may be.

  4. confoundmeonce:

    This Segment of ”Society That Calls itself “zionist’ Is Only finishing itself Off By ”its` Own hands ‘. It would be difficult for Anyone who is equipped with any Logical Thinking faculties at All… To Not Be able to Figure This OUT. What Do The Jewish People ( As a Whole ) Think about what that bunch of miscreants are Bringing down on All of Them ? Hate Breeds More Hate..And Wars That Are created From This Hate..Will only Barrel Right Back onto The Haters..and eventually, put an End to Them . SO..Why Isn`t The Jewish Population Speaking Up And Acting Against What Is being Done To These Poor People Hemmed up on Gaza.. Stealing Their Lands from them..And Murdering All who Voice Complaints. ?? All of The Silently standing by and Allowing these Atrocities to Continue >> Are as Guilty as These Creatures Who ARE The actual culprits.. and so, all Will Pay the Price for It. YET, You Can Turn It Around. So Please Help put a Stop to This Grievous Madness. . Before IT becomes Too late .

  5. Zarina Bhatia:

    I have great admiration for Bishop Riah and I know he was mistreated by being removed from St George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem for reasons best known to Church of England as I am not a Christian. He is truly a Palestinian and has friends of Muslims and had given refuge to Mordechai Vanunu too, he also has some friends of Israeli origin like Uri Avnery I believe, but basically he has every reason to resent Zionist Israelis to have occupied the land of Palestine. I have personally met him and will always be his ally. He sends me greetings for both Christian and Muslim festivals. I draw inspiration from him as a genuine friend and we share Justice for Palestinians and wish they achieve their Freedom. I am proud to have him as a friend.

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