Two team mates and I had made an appointment with the minister of the Anglican Church in Nablus to interview him about the general situation for Christians in Nablus and hopefully get some answers to why Christians are leaving Nablus in such big numbers. However, what was closest to his heart at that moment was to convey his opinion on the future of his homeland. He strongly believes in a one-state solution and goes on speaking of the wisdom of King Solomon and the two mothers who claim the one son. Solomon suggests that the child be cut in two and the true mother, preferring to give up her child rather than to see him butchered, asks Solomon to give her baby to the false mother. Solomon then of course understood who was the real mother.
|St. Philips Church in Nablus|
In Father Ibrahim's argumentation Palestine is the son and himself and many of his alike are the true mother. Palestine is too small to be divided, it has no natural borders. Palestine must be one country where all peoples can live in peace with each other. "The Zionists are putting up limits, but we have to look beyond these limits" he continues and quotes again from the Bible - "open your eyes and you will see miracles". Father Ibrahim firmly believes in this - "read the Bible and think - do not put up limits".
According to the Father there are five major problems: The Israeli settlements, borders, access to water, Palestinian refugees and Jerusalem. "With one state, all these problems will disappear because the settlers become neighbours, borders are settled, water is for everyone, refugees can live where they like and Jerusalem will be for all the people".
How to achieve all this? It is a big challenge, he says. Fundamentalists on both sides will not join him, he knows. Besides, politicians are apt to go for the least complicated option, which is the two-state solution. The Father holds that the logic of nature is difficult. God created the world in a certain system, so if you for instance want to change the way of the flow of a river, this is possible by using force, but as soon as the force weakens, the river will go back to its natural course. The same with Palestine; you can change anything by force, but nature will win in the end because the force will not last forever.
So we need to take one step at the time, the Father continues. The first step, he says, is education - all, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Druze - must learn the beauty of diversity. "When you use more colours the picture is more beautiful. All parties in the society must accept that we are different and learn to respect this fact".
The two-state solution may be the first choice, but Father Ibrahim is convinced that the wisdom of King Solomon will prevail in the end - and that Palestine one day will be one country for all peoples to live in peace.
Before we leave him, we ask him about the reason for Christians leaving Nablus. The major reason for Christians emigrating, he says, is the occupation - or rather - the consequences of the occupation: unemployment and financial insecurity. The Western media will have it that the Christians are leaving due to muslim fundamentalism. That is not the right picture, the Father stresses. "We can live in peace with the Muslims, we have no real religious problems."
Father Ibrahim has no plans of emigrating. He will continue telling his people that the occupation will end one day - and remind them that this is the holy land and that it is important that the Christians remain here. He wants to convince them that if they work hard here, they can also thrive. "We can make the future with our own hands, but we need to stay together and in harmony with our neighbours". People will not find paradise anywhere else, he believes, they need to make their paradise here.