On arriving back in Devon I noticed the headline in The Times newspaper (page 18 23rd January 2016) Israel speech is halted after student rioters throw chairs. The story is about how protesters disrupted a student meeting at King’s College London at which a former head of Israel’s secret service was speaking. It suggested that the college’s Action Palestine society was to blame.
One of the things which struck me in the Holy Land was how a non-violent path was often advocated. Elias Chacour (A former Archbishop of Acre, Haifa, Nazareth and all Galilee) spoke about how violence creates violence and if you use violence you will become a victim of violence. Zoughbi the director and founder of The Palestinian Conflict Resolution Centre in Bethlehem talked about the need for creative non violence -that is hope which in turn is a reflection of faith.
On our visit to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem we witnessed the jockeying for place to worship however, both the Archbishop of Jerusalem Suheil Dawani and Elia Chacour spoke about how the Christians in Israel-Palestine are united in their difference/denominations – not divided by them. It seems that pressure strips away the rubbish and leaves us with what really matters.
I was grateful for our unity as a group of pilgrims. There was clear difference between some of us that travelled but we found a unity under the love of God – it gave me hope for the Church of England and wider society.
This week there was also coverage in the media of the British Museum acquiring The Lampedussa Cross.
The cross was the last article brought to the British Museum by Neil MacGregor before he left. Made by Francesco Tuccio of coloured drift wood from the wreckage of migrant boats which had washed up on the Lampedusa shores it is for Tuccio a symbol of rescue and of hope for a new life of the migrants desperate plight. Jill Cook (Senior Curator) see it as an object upon which hangs so many stories. A testimony to an extraordinary period of history, but also she hopes, a testimony of humanity.
Museums are places where we are able to look and understand history and so holds the possibility for not making mistakes in the future. The continued press coverage of refugee migration and of student rioters suggests we should learn quickly – that would be a testimony of humanity.