Closure of the Holy Sepulchre is a Dark Day for All

The Holy Sepulchre holds a sacred meaning for Muslims as well as Christians. Many Jerusalemite Muslims light candles and revere both Mary and Jesus, in part hoping that they maybe blessed in some way by these holy figures. This is highlighted through this tweet from Ghanem Nuseibeh, whose family members were entrusted with the keys to the Holy Sepulchre, as a Jerusalemite Muslim family. They have symbolically held the keys to the Holy Sepulchre for generations.

A recent bill by lawmaker Rachel Azaria, who sponsored the legislation, would mean that the State could expropriate land in Jerusalem sold by churches to private real estate firms in recent years. This has caused concern since the Church is a major landowner in Jerusalem and opens up racial and religious fault lines as every inch of Jerusalem is historically contested and with ramifications globally for faith communities.

Such a move is even more startling since the closure of the Sepulchre places a focus on the bill and does nothing for the image of the State in the eyes of many Christians. In fact, it can be regarded as a retrograde move, playing on sensitivities at a time when the US Embassy move to Jerusalem has already inflamed tensions in some communities. More than ever, stable and calm heads are needed rather than inflammatory pieces of legislation and moves that irritate the fragile balance and peace that is within Jerusalem.

Further posts by Nuseibeh also reflect a change in the position of liberal and progressive Palestinian voices, which need to be heard if there is to be any form of peace in the future.

The Holy Sepulchre is a symbol of hope at a time when darkness seems to be taking over parts of the global political landscape. The longer is remains closed, the longer the damage to the reputation of Israel and in the eyes of both Christians and Muslims. No doubt, many Jews will also see this as a retrograde move by the State of Israel. However, we want to highlight the comments made by Nuseibeh:

“Israel’s action against churches harms Israel as much as the churches. Someone should tell Israeli politicians not to over-rely on Trump. They need Arab, Christian and Muslim (s), more than American Evangelicals”.

 

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