THE POLITICAL PROSTITUTION OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN PALESTINE
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THE POLITICAL PROSTITUTION OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN PALESTINE

May 10, 2001

MID-EAST REALITIES - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 5/09: We're talking here about political prostitution; for it too is an age-old profession and it too leads to many other vices.

Furthermore, in a sense, this kind of prostitution more than the other kind needs to be exposed and understood. This is especially true if one is interested in the eventual real independence of the Palestinian people, something which to be fulfilled in a serious way requires their liberation from the regimes, class interests, and old church political and financial arrangements that are now so interwoven into the very bowels of today's complex Israeli-Palestinian-Hashemite conflict.

We don't know if the rumor is true that the Orthodox church sold or leased the land to the Israelis on which today's Knesset stands. We do believe that the outline of facts and intrigue in the article below is accurate, though of course there is nearly always a subtle Zionist twist to the choice of subjects and analysis published in Israel's most interesting and sophisticated newspaper, Ha'aretz.

SEX IN THE SEPULCHRE

Charges of bribery and even lechery are the outcome of bitter rivalry over the top job of Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem.

By Danny Rubinstein

[Ha'aretz - 8 May 2001: The struggle over the post of Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem is now at its peak. The leaders of the Jerusalem patriarchate are currently involved in an intense rivalry, enhanced by political pressure, rumors of corruption, bribes and mudslinging.

"It seems that the corruption of the medieval church we read about in Umberto Eco's 'The Name of the Rose' is revisiting the churches in the Holy Land, and lechery, one of the seven cardinal sins, is feeding the souls of many clergy," wrote Sammy Kirreh, a lecturer at Bethlehem University, on April 20 in the Palestinian English-language weekly, Jerusalem Times.

In his commentary, he relates that he saw a couple "kissing and touching each other shamelessly" in a dark corner of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; that a friar was seen "in the act with a young boy," of another seen in a church "on top of a nun in the Holy Sepulchre"; and of yet a third "found with another friar."

Kirreh says a friend showed him a photograph of a cleric "who has recently nominated himself to a top senior position with the church, atop a little boy." As a punishment, the sinner was banished for some months to the Mount of Temptation in Jericho.

It has been over four months since the death of the previous patriarch, Diodoros I, and as time goes by, rumors and slander about the various candidates grow apace. A newspaper in Greece recently published an apparently fabricated picture of one of the candidates for the position of patriarch in bed with a boy and the candidate sued the paper for libel.

Stories about another candidate tell that he is involved in huge financial dealings with Israelis and Palestinians and that he has already paid millions of dollars to clerics involved in the election process of the new patriarch to convince them to vote for him.

The governments of Jordan and Israel, the PLO and the Palestinian Authority, and to some extent the Greek government - all have fingers in the pie.

The post of Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem is a highly coveted one because of the considerable power it embodies. The patriarch is the virtually absolute ruler of the Orthodox Patriarchate, the oldest and strongest in Israel. It is a small, virtually independent realm with untold assets and treasures. The Jerusalem patriarchate is responsible for the areas that include Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. The patriarch is all-powerful, and has no authority - pope or council - above him. At his disposal are thousands of acres, hundreds of buildings, churches, convents, monasteries, entire streets with shops and businesses. The patriarchate's properties are scattered throughout Jerusalem and the West Bank, the Galilee, Jaffa, Lod, Ramle, Gaza, Amman, the Jericho Valley and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

The election process has a number of stages. At the first stage, a locum temens is elected to temporarily replace the deceased patriarch. Metropolitan Cornelius, one of the candidates currently vying for the post of patriarch, was chosen to fill that position. He is about 65 years old and in recent years served in the important post of trustee of the partriarchate's courts, which rule in matters of marriage and divorce for the members of the Greek Orthodox community in Israel, the West Bank and Jordan.

At the second stage, 17 Greek priests, members of the synod known as the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, meet with 12 local Arab clerics, representatives of the various areas of the patriarchate (Nablus, Irbid, Jaffa, Nazareth, Amman, etc.).

Most of the 17 Greek members of the synod arrived in Jerusalem as 15-year-old boys to study and do sacred service for the patriarchate. The have since served in various positions in the church and are appointed by the patriarch. The 12 local Arab clerics are also appointed by the patriarch and subject to his authority.

Ethnic-national and political tensions have divided the members of the Greed synod and the Arab clerics for centuries. The Arabs complain that the Greeks only look out for themselves and are unwilling to allocate funds for the welfare of their Arab co-religionists.

The patriarch is elected from among the members of the synod and the body of local clerics, 26 in all. They assembled after the death of Diodoros and each wrote down the name of the person he supported, one name - his own or someone else's. After the completion of this stage, they ended up with a list containing the names of 15 candidates. Only one was an Arab. The reason for the dearth of Arab names on the list is that an Arab has no chance of ultimately being elected because the body that actually elects the patriarch is the synod, all of whose members are Greek.

During the third and current stage of the election process, the list of 15 candidates must be approved by the authorities. In the past, the candidates only needed to be approved by the Ottoman ruler, later by the British High Commissioner and since 1948 by the Jordanian government.

In the current political situation, the candidates need the approval of the governments of Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Last week, newspapers in East Jerusalem reported that the Jordanian authorities had not approved Metropolitan Timotheus (Father Timothy) because he is suspected of connections with Israel and selling church land to Jews. Father Timothy serves as director-general of the patriarchate, and in recent years, when Patriarch Diodoros was bedridden, Timotheus was viewed as the strong man in the church. Caused an uproar The news from Jordan caused an uproar in the patriarchate. Timotheus and his supporters rushed to Jordan to see what could be done. The result was that last Friday, the patriarchate in Jerusalem received an official letter signed by Jordanian Prime Minister Ali Abu-Ragheb stating that Jordan had reversed its previous decision and now approved all 15 candidates, including Father Timothy.

Israeli Minister of Religious Affairs Asher Ohana must also officially approve the 15 candidates on behalf of the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority's unofficial approval is also required (unofficial because the Palestinian Authority is not a country).

Sources in the patriarchate expressed the hope last week that the Israeli and Palestinian approvals would be given immediately, making it possible to begin the fourth stage of the election as early as next week. At this stage, a short list of three finalists is chosen from the list of 15 by a body of 50 clerics: the 17 members of the synod, the 12 local Arab clerics and another 21 Greek clerics that serve the patriarchate but are not members of the synod.

Immediately after choosing the three finalists, the 17 members of the synod will meet to elect the new patriarch. The meeting is held in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem and is conducted in accordance with strict traditional protocol and by secret ballot.

Meanwhile, no one knows for sure who the top contenders are. The guesses for the top three are Metropolitan Cornelius, the current locum temens, the oldest of the candidates and viewed as lacking personal charisma; Father Timothy, the director-general of the patriarchate, accused of having ties with Israel; and Archbishop Irineos, the current Exarch of the Holy Sepulchre in Athens, considered to be very close to the PLO. Rumors in the patriarchate have it that Archbishop Irineos also has personal ties with Israelis who desire to do business in Greece, and that they are now trying to recruit support for him in the Israeli government.

With all the importance of the Jordanian, Israeli and Palestinian political involvement in the election process, it would appear that political considerations do not take first priority among the church officials involved in the process. Each of the top patriarchate officials has his own camp of supporters, Many, however, switch camps, exchange loyalties, buy and sell each other, make empty promises, form alliances, spread rumors, slander, issue huge bribes, grab any help they can get - from politicians, businesspeople, journalists and other movers and shakers in Israel, the territories, Jordan and Greece.

The competition between the candidates has caused tensions and suspicions to soar, creating a foul atmosphere in the patriarchate. Many would prefer to hasten the process, which could end next week. The final decision on the next Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem, however, could still be a long way off


May 2001


Magazine



FEISAL HUSSEINI - DEAD AT 60 IN KUWAIT
(May 31, 2001)
Feisal Husseini will be buried tomorrow in Jerusalem with great circumstance. However whatever else he was, and many think he was a good and committed man, he was a fairly simple man and he certainly was not a great man.

SHARON SHOULD SURRENDER TO HISTORY
(May 25, 2001)
Like many nation states born out of war, Israel must re-evaluate its past in order to move forward, argues Mark Mazower*

THE GAZA GHETTO/PRISON
(May 25, 2001)
The "Gaza Strip" is a huge ghetto; created of course by the Israelis. In a sense it is also the largest prison in the world as the great majority of those who reside in Gaza are unable to leave and return through any of the handful of Israeli army checkposts which control who comes and goes.

APARTHEID ISRAEL
(May 24, 2001)
"There is a huge gap between us (Jews) and our enemies -- not just in ability but in morality, culture, sanctity of life, and conscience. They are our neighbors here, but it seems as if at a distance of a few hundred meters away, there are people who do not belong to our continent, to our world, but actually belong to a different galaxy."

WATER WARS
(May 24, 2001)
In the end its not really the "settlements" that will determine which civilization will prosper in the once Holy Land now so fought over by the descendants of Abraham. Control and use of WATER is even more at the heart of the conflict between the two competing societies.

CONTINUE THE INTIFADA
(May 23, 2001)
It's a terrible deal for the Palestinians actually -- they expected to give up their very justifiable struggle against the occupier in exchange for another promise to "freeze settlements". Gee...it was just last year that Yasser Arafat was proclaiming ad infinitum that no matter what there would be a Palestinian State by the end of the year!

WHAT THE "MITCHELL COMMISSION REPORT" REALLY SAYS
(May 23, 2001)
"Here's your lifeline Yasser, Nabil, Jabril, and all you Palestinian VIPs -- and you better grab it because it may be the last one you get".

THE MITCHELL COMMISSION REPORT -- A LONG SORDID HISTORY
(May 22, 2001)
The big fix is on of course with the "Mitchell Commission Report". Other madmen desperately scampering from one TV studio to the next are "Ambassador" Dennis Ross, now back at the Israeli/Jewish lobby from whence he came, and of course Senator Mitchell, himself retired from the most pro-Israeli political body on the planet ...

ARAFAT AND THE WORLD FORCED TO DANCE TO SHARON'S WAR TUNES
(May 21, 2001)
The Israelis are pushing their lies, schemes, deceptions, and brutality more than ever these days. It's all designed of course to demoralize and confuse the Palestinians, to twist and torture them into submission.

BREAKING NEWS - RAJOUB HIT
(May 20, 2001)
Jibril Rajoub is a favorite of the CIA, the headquarters of which he has personally visited numerous times in recent years on his visits to Washington. His force is the main one trained by the CIA in order to keep the Arafat Regime in power ...

TRUE MARTYRDOM
(May 20, 2001)
Mahmoud Ahmed Marmash -- 21 and now departed -- never knew anything other than Israel's brutal military occupation. He never knew anything other than Arab "client regimes" and the Arafat "Authority". He never knew anything other than a savage Israeli army, fueled by an increasingly racist ideology, armed and financed by America.

ISRAEL - APARTHEID IN THE MIDDLE EAST
(May 20, 2001)
A little trip back in history's lane will result in all kinds of close connections between Israel and South Africa in the days of Apartheid. And during that trip one will discover that Shimon Peres and Yossi Beilin were at the top of the list of those promoting those relations.

THE ARAB AMERICANS and their "CLIENT ORGANIZATIONS"
(May 19, 2001)
There are many desperate and depressed people out there these days, especially among Palestinians, their friends, and the Jewish left that is mortified to awaken to find itself with Ariel Sharon as Prime Minister, the hoped for salvation of the Oslo "Peace Process" destroyed, and one of their false prophets, Shimon Peres, at Sharon's side.

SUICIDE BOMB, ISRAELI AIR STRIKES CAUSE NEW CARNAGE
(May 18, 2001)
A suicide bombing followed by retaliatory Israeli air strikes killed 16 people and injured 200 on Friday in one of the bloodiest days since a Palestinian uprising erupted nearly eight months ago.

ISRAEL'S ARMY - A NEW, PERHAPS DANGERSOUS, FREEDOM
(May 18, 2001)
TRIGGER-HAPPY troops set loose? Questions about the response of Israeli soldiers facing Palestinian demonstrators are being asked, and not just by Palestinians. But suspicions about individual behaviour are less relevant than the clear fact that the army, given its head by Ariel Sharon, has made a deliberate decision ...

SEVEN KILLED, OVER 50 INJURED IN SUICIDE BOMB ATTACK
(May 18, 2001)
A Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance to the Hasharon shopping mall in the center of the coastal town of Netanya at around 11.30 A.M on Friday morning. Seven people were killed in the blast, one of them most likely the bomber himself.

ISRAELI ARMY ON THE RAMPAGE
(May 17, 2001)
The Israelis are more and more specifically targeting children, journalists, and Palestinians at all levels. The goal is to create such fear, such intimidation, such apprehension, that ...

MORE BLOOD AND MEMORIES FLOW ON "DISASTER DAY"
(May 16, 2001)
Yesterday was the 53rd anniversary of what the Israelis believe was the start of their independence and the Palestinians believe was the start of their ongoing and tortuous "disaster", the "nakba".

"SCHOLARS, INTELLECTUALS, EXPERTS BETRAY THEIR VOCATIONS..." - MER FLASHBACK
(May 15, 2001)
The recent orgy of 'activism' surrounding the new "Har Homa" settlement has given 'peace groups' and various Arab Americans groups something to do again.

THERE WERE WARNINGS THEN, THERE ARE WARNINGS NOW
(May 15, 2001)
It's 53 years now since Palestine was fractured, a Jewish State was born, the Palestinian refugee crisis created. There were warnings from both Arab and Jewish leaders what would result if a "Jewish State" were declared when the British withdrew from Palestine in 1948.

NO JUNITY, NO ALLIES, NO FUTURE
(May 14, 2001)
Let's get right to the bottom line here first. Those American Jews, and whoever else for that matter have been looking to what is called "JUNITY" (that's "Jewish Unity For a Just Peace" so they say) ...

AN AFFRONT TO CIVILISATION
(May 13, 2001)
I was on my way to Khan Yunis, a desperately poor Palestinian refugee town in the Gaza Strip, when we learned it was under heavy bombardment. Please, urged my Palestinian guides, could I postpone my visit to the next day?

IN MEMORY OF PROF. CHARLES BLACK
(May 12, 2001)
"Against hugh odds...they decline to submit, and instead go out on the streets and pick up stones. They are beaten without let or mercy. They are imprisoned under obscene conditions, after kangaroo trials, or no trials at all.

THREATENING WRITERS AND MORE ASSASSINATIONS
(May 12, 2001)
Of course what the Israelis are doing in so many areas to many classes of people is dastardly and deserves widespread condemnation. The first article details what the Israelis are doing to Palestinian writers who are citizens of Israel; the second to Palestinian activists who are struggling against Israel's occupation.

HASHEMITE COLLUSION AND REPRESSION
(May 11, 2001)
The Hashemite Regime of King Abdullah the Second is running more and more scared; and for good reason. After all, the collusion of this regime with the Israelis, going way back to the beginning of the conflict...

MAHMOUD DARWISH ON 53RD NAKBA ANNIVERSARY
(May 11, 2001)
Next Tuesday, 15 May, is the 53rd Anniversary of what the Palestinians call the Nakba, the "Disaster", and what the Israelis call their Independence. In a very unusual move some 250 Arab Professors and Intellectuals have issued a call for their own countries to finally join in a serious way the Palestinian struggle.

FROM HERZL TO SHARON - STEALTH DISPOSSESSION
(May 10, 2001)
"The removal of Arabs bodily from Palestine is part of the Zionist plan to 'spirit the penniless population across the frontier' by denying it employment... Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly."

THE POLITICAL PROSTITUTION OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN PALESTINE
(May 10, 2001)
We're talking here about political prostitution; for it too is an age-old profession and it too leads to many other vices.

THE POPE GOES VISITING
(May 9, 2001)
With the creation of a "Jewish State" in the Holy Land, in a sense a new era began twisting the modern-day concept of nationality back to one of ethnic and religious identification.

FROM HELL WITH LOVE
(May 8, 2001)
Ironically, in the early years of this ignoble "Peace Process", Dr. Sarraj himself -- a dignified psychiatrist and recipient of the Physician for Human Rights Award -- was arrested three times, tortured, and threatened with death...not by the Israelis but by the forces of the Arafat "Palestinian Authority".

ISRAELIS SEE THROUGH GLOSS OF LIFE AMID ORANGE GROVES
(May 7, 2001)
When the real estate sharks of California began to coax Americans to Los Angeles early in the last century, they stuck oranges on the trees to make the desert more alluring. The oranges are real enough in the groves on the hills around Jerusalem, but the hard selling is just the same.

WE ARE ACCUSED OF TERRORISM
(May 7, 2001)
The incomparable Nizar Qabbani was buried in Damascus earlier this week. "We Are Accused Of Terrorism" was one of his last poems first published a year ago; key excerpts from that poem follow.

GUNNING DOWN ISRAEL SHAMIR - Part II
(May 4, 2001)
Previously we outlined how the regimes-sponsored Arab American establishment, using the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) to try to control everyone as usual...

SHARON'S RISE TO THE PINNACLE OF POWER - HELPED BY THE ARABS THEMSELVES
(May 3, 2001)
Ariel Sharon's becoming Prime Minister of Israel didn't happen overnight. He pursued the job for a very long time and whatever one thinks of his person and policies he carried out a masterful political coup.

GUNNING DOWN ISRAEL SHAMIR
(May 3, 2001)
The worst thing that happened to the people of the Middle East in recent history was the imposition on them by the Western powers of the "Client Regimes" -- those who read MER regularly know what we are talking about...

ARAB REGIMES COWER AND BEG; ISRAELIS CONTINUE TO KILL AND DESTROY
(May 2, 2001)
Shimon Peres runs around the world, especially to the gullible American media, and especially to CNN and PBS, with soothing rhetorical jibberish while his Generals further demolish Palestinian homes making fools of those who believed in the "Oslo Peace Process" and its associated "agreements".

FORMER SHIN BET HEAD TALKS SOME SENSE IN PUBLIC....BUT WHY?
(May 2, 2001)
Motives are of course a very important aspect of life and politics...as is timing. And when it comes to someone who has been head of the Shin Bet, like Ami Ayalon, and who is saying these things now, at this particular crucial and sensitive time, there are good reasons to have many suspicions, and many questions, and many doubts.

EXTINGUISHING THE INTIFADA
(May 2, 2001)
A major effort is underway to somehow smother and snuff out the Intifada, one way or another. Those heading up the effort, in order of importance, are:

ARAFAT'S FIRST INTERVIEW SINCE THE INTIFADA BEGAN
(May 1, 2001)
Yasser Arafat often describes his struggle as a "long march" to the "spires and minarets" of Jerusalem, capital of his Palestinian state-to-be.




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