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Thread: Patriarch To Israel

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    Thumbs down Patriarch To Israel

    In almost every controversial matter, Maronite Patriarch Mar Bishara al-Rai plays a starring role. After a series of contradictory positions and his visit to Syria in February 2013, he decided to take a step that his predecessors refrained from, visiting occupied Palestine as part of a papal delegation.

    During the civil war, the Maronite patriarch opposed the relationship between right-wing militias and Israel. There are a number of Maronite religious orders in the Holy Land and a Maronite diocese headed by Bishop Boulos Sayyah, who for 16 years used the Naqoura crossing to travel between Lebanon and occupied Palestine. Sayyah’s visits took place with the knowledge and permission of the Lebanese state. But no head of a Lebanese church has stepped foot on these lands before because they did not want such a step to be perceived as recognition of or normalization with the Zionist entity.



    The visit by Maronite Patriarch Mar Bishara al-Rai to Jerusalem in May can not go unnoticed, especially since no Lebanese patriarch has done so before. Why does Rai then, unlike his predecessor, insist on traveling to occupied Palestine as part of the papal visit?

    Former Maronite Patriarch Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir recalls in his memoir, as reported by journalist Antoine Saad, that he refused to accompany Pope John Paul II on his journey to the Holy Land because “there is a domestic situation that we must take into account. We have bishops that travel between Lebanon and Palestine, but taking into consideration the domestic situation, we preferred not to do it.”

    Saad tells Al-Akhbar: “There is no enmity in the dogmatic sense, but Sfeir was always against the Israeli policy regarding the Palestinian cause and its actions in Lebanon.” He adds: “The position of the Maronite patriarchate was always clear in its hostility towards Israel and its belief that this entity has played a role that has caused us many calamities.” It is from this perspective that “Sfeir raised many questions during the civil war about the relationship between the Christian militias and Israel, which led to disagreements and tensions between him and the Lebanese Forces.”

    The position of the Maronite patriarchate was always clear in its hostility towards Israel and its belief that this entity has played a role that has caused us many calamities.However, one can not compare the two patriarchs according to Saad, they had different issues to take into consideration. “We should not forget that Israel had not withdrawn its army [from Lebanon] when Sfeir refused to participate in the Vatican’s delegation.” That is why, “I don’t consider the visit [by Rai] a normalization of relations. There are issues beyond politics and conflicts, namely Rai’s sense of attachment to the Holy Land,” Saad concludes.
    Patriarchal deputy, Bishop Samir Mazloum, does not believe that Israel needs a visit of this kind to exploit politically. “The Arabs offer it a lot more,” he says. In an interview with Al-Akhbar he emphasized that a visit to Jerusalem “does not mean recognizing Israel. The position of the Maronite patriarchate is known. But there are obligations towards the pope and his visit first, and towards Maronites in Palestine second.” Even though Pope Francis is not the first pope to visit Jerusalem, Mazloum believes that the visit is a “historical occasion that compels Rai to be present.”

    He hoped that people would not make a big deal of the issue. “It has nothing to do with normalization, the patriarch is not a political figure, he is visiting his parishioners and nothing more.” Israel will continue to be in Bkirki’s view “a usurping, occupying country that deprived a people of their land and attacked Lebanon.” As for Sfeir’s refusal to go on a similar trip, Mazloum says: “It was a different situation. The circumstances today, in Rai’s opinion, are different.”

    One of the bishops who does not feel comfortable with the visit is trying to understand what made Rai agree to go on this trip. He tries to justify it by saying that the Maronite church has a bishop in occupied Palestine and “he remained Lebanese despite his travels between Lebanon and the Holy Land.” The patriarch is visiting his parishioners “and not the state in the same way that he visits other countries, especially Syria.”

    Rai brought up the issue at the meeting of the Council of Maronite Bishops. He said the pope is going to visit the region and “I will take advantage of this trip to visit the church’s parishioners.” No one protested publicly, even though some of the bishops did not feel comfortable with the idea. The visit’s program is still not clear, but “there definitely won’t be meetings with any political figure since the visit is not to a state,” Rai said.

    For some, Syria might be a provocative state that committed abuses during its tutelage of Lebanon but there is a huge difference. It is enough that the articles of the Lebanese penal code that punish any person who enters an enemy state does not apply to Syria. Drawing a parallel between Rai’s two visits is nothing but an excuse to justify an unnecessary visit. The patriarch could have chosen not to participate in the Vatican’s delegation, especially since there is a bishop who looks after the parish.

    Who knows, perhaps Rai did not intend to raise controversy. The question here is not meant to be an indictment or an accusation of treason. But neither Rai, nor the bishops who describe Israel as a “usurping state” can use some Arab leaders’ relationship with the Zionist entity as an excuse. The purpose of the patriarch’s trip is to visit the Maronite community in Palestine but can he trust that Israel will not somehow implicate him by making him shake the hand of one of its officials in front of TV cameras?

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    BEIRUT - Maronite Patriarch Beshara Boutros al-Rai is scheduled to visit Christian sites in Israel with Pope Francis.
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    “Rai will visit the Holy Land with the delegation accompanying Pope Francis, especially since there is a Maronite parish in Israel that deserves his visit,” Bishop Boulos Sayah told Al-Joumhouria newspaper in remarks published Tuesday.
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    “Rai might go with the pope on a plane [to Israel] or across land. The decision has not been taken yet,” he added.
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    Sayah stressed that the visit is purely pastoral and does not aim at the normalization with Israel.
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    “Every Christian living in the Middle East should have the right to visit the Holy Land, because Jerusalem and Bethlehem are not [the property of] Israel, but belong to all the believers in the world,” the bishop said.

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    The copts refused. The maronites accepted?

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    Yeah, why not. There are 20-25 000 Maronites there. Plus he's visiting Christian sites with the Pope. Mish rayi7 y7ott wroud 3ala abr Ariel Sharon

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    Quote Originally Posted by Knights Hospitaller View Post
    Yeah, why not. There are 20-25 000 Maronites there. Plus he's visiting Christian sites with the Pope. Mish rayi7 y7ott wroud 3ala abr Ariel Sharon
    There are 10K maronites and the christians should not be going there. Shake their hands?

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    Quote Originally Posted by lebanese1984 View Post
    There are 10K maronites and the christians should not be going there. Shake their hands?
    Why not? That's a big "F U" to all the Arabs who criticize Israel, but lick their arseholes behind the scenes. And to be honest, I don't buy into the whole Israel is The Enemy B.S. Ma be2e balad ma fatak bi rabna, killon bled sha2i2a bas la2anno Israel are "jews who raped the Islamic land" saro hinne l wa7idin our enemies.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Knights Hospitaller View Post
    Why not? That's a big "F U" to all the Arabs who criticize Israel, but lick their arseholes behind the scenes. And to be honest, I don't buy into the whole Israel is The Enemy B.S. Ma be2e balad ma fatak bi rabna, killon bled sha2i2a bas la2anno Israel are "jews who raped the Islamic land" saro hinne l wa7idin our enemies.
    Fuc# the sha2i2a. Im talking about it because Israel has their own plans to take us out of the ME. They want this to happen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lebanese1984 View Post
    Fuc# the sha2i2a. Im talking about it because Israel has their own plans to take us out of the ME. They want this to happen.
    Nobody wants the Christians in the ME. Law wi2fit bas 3ala Israel kenit nos msibe

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    He's a Cardinal in the Vatican. It's a Papal delegation.
    OneIsManyIsOne

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    Quote Originally Posted by lebanese1984 View Post
    Fuc# the sha2i2a. Im talking about it because Israel has their own plans to take us out of the ME. They want this to happen.
    What benefit would that be to Israel?

    You ignore the ancient and recent past history of the two.
    Biblically there was a strong bond between Hiram of Tyre , his people and David and his people and it continued with David's son Solomon.
    Patriarch Arida throughout his experience was a proponent of the Jewish state along with some others in that faction.
    Lastly, I recall the times of Bachir Gemayel and much is written and spun about him and his relationship with Israel, but I was there, alive and well as a college student reading, no engorging myself in the newspapers of that era so I knew.
    Latter I moved to Israel and was there during the War with the PLO and there was indeed a bond between the Christians of Lebanon and the Jews of Israel........not all Christians but many.
    I believe there is a bond and it will not disappear because it is innate for some and pragmatic for others.
    Who would claim to be that, who was not.

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