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August 16, 2013
Written by: Mohammed Al-Sammak; translated by: Khalil J. Fawadleh
In her book entitled Prophecy and Politics: The Secret Alliance Between Israel and the U.S. Christian Right, the American writer, Grace Halsell, who used to write the political speeches for the late US President Lyndon Johnson, recounts the story of her visit to the Palestinian city of Nazareth – a visit she made along with a delegation of American Christians who made a tour of holy Christian places in Israel.
Halsell recounts: “Before arriving at Nazareth, the Israeli tour guide announced that we would not make a stop at this city. No one from the group inquired about the reason for making this decision and the reason for refraining from visiting the city in which Jesus Christ spent the years of his life staring from 12 years old until he was 30 years old. However, the tour guide changed his mind and informed us that we would make a twenty-minute stop at Nazareth. The justification he offered was using the toilets. As soon as the car stopped, each one of us went to a store in order to use the toilet. After twenty minutes, we rode in the car once again without touring the city. I tried to imagine a Buddhist heading to a temple of Buddha in Kamakura, Japan.”
Last month, the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, made an official tour in Egypt, Jordan, Israel and the State of Palestine.
The Israelis drew up the program of his visit to the Occupied Territories. They did not include in the program the cities of Nazareth and Bethlehem.
Nazareth houses the Church of the Annunciation, which was built over the place where the Virgin Mary received the divine announcement that she is carrying the Christ in her womb while she remained a virgin. As a result, the Church of the Annunciation is considered one of the most important holy places for Christians. Therefore, it was strange not to include this church in the program of the Archbishop’s visit!
Also, the City of Bethlehem, which houses the Church of the Nativity, constitutes one of the most important landmarks, origins and religious symbols of Christianity that saw parts of Jesus Christ’s life, was similarly not included on the program of the Archbishop’s visit.