Canon Hatem Shehadeh from Haifa in the Diocese of Jerusalem visited Dublin & Glendalough from 21 to 26 May as part of the partnership link between the two dioceses. He shared his experiences as a Christian, Arab, Palestinian, Israeli, Irish Anglican minister living in the Land of the Holy One. His mother-in-law comes from Fermanagh and he holds Irish citizenship.
He addressed both clergy and lay people in the Church of Ireland Theological Institute. He attended the Ministry of Healing Eucharist in Christ Church Cathedral, followed by lunch with Our Table, a refugee initiative. He was at the Thinking Allowed event in the Holy Cross Diocesan Centre, Clonliffe Road, Dublin 3 and was in St John’s Church, Laragh, for Evening Prayer.
Canon Hatem talked movingly about the situation of Christians in his home country and his insistence that they must not stop believing the message of peace, witnessing to the Lord and spreading the good news and the message of peace and reconciliation.
Canon Hatem has asked Christians in the west to do three things:
1.Push back against the demonisation of both Palestinians and Israelis.
2.Reject the support of violence. It is not Christian.
3. Support those who are seeking peace. “We don’t need you to be pro- Palestinian or pro–Israeli. Be pro–peace”.
Canon Hatem is involved in a schools-based peace project which brings together Jews, Moslems and Christians. He visited Nun’s Cross NS and East Glendalough NS and spoke of this initiative. In Nun’s Cross NS, he taught the children some Arabic and Hebrew words. One child asked him what the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis was about. He gave a wonderful illustration: “Here is a watch. One persons say that my father gave it to me and another that my great-great-great-great grandfather gave it to me”. There are two stories which lead to conflicting views.