For 80 years now, this free part of the Russian Church, the ROCA (or ROCOR, for "Outside Russia") has continued to develop in Church Tradition. In the Holy Land, the ROCOR has guarded many sacred places of the Russian Orthodox Church. With the formation of the State Israel in 1948, all the extensive property was summarily expropriated and donated to the MP, expressing gratitude from the new Jewish state towards its early recognition by the Soviet Union. The property of the ROCOR in the Jordanian mandate ("West Bank") were respected. After the establishment of limited Palestinian autonomy, the Trinity Monastery in Hebron was suddenly seized by Arafat's forces (July 1997) and simultaneously transferred to representatives of the MP, who were present in advance for the occasion. A commission of high-ranking Palestinians was "set-up" to resolve the problem of Hebron. It was promised for two years continually, but it did not even meet once.
On the 15th January 2000, Arafat, without any notification, confiscated a property (with remnants of a 6th century chapel) of the Russian Palestine Mission in Jericho, turning it officially over to the MP, although only 2 or 3 of the 15 red-Russians present represent the MP (the rest being employees of the Russian Consulate General in Jerusalem). The day after, the Arab newspaper 'El Qud' justified the surprise action by stating that "Palestine recognises only one Russian Church, that of the MP". It is further announced that other expropriations of the ROCOR are to be carried out. It is expected that the next confiscation will be the school in Bethany, established by the ROCOR in 1936 on the site of an ancient chapel dedicated to Lazarus and his Sisters. These actions most probably will continue until they move to the Mount of Olives and try to expropriate the Monastery of St Mary Magdalene in the Garden of Gethsemane and Eleon Monastery near the Ascension-Chapel.
In a civilised state laws will provide protection for the citizen against random expropriation. In Nazi-Germany, Jews were deprived of their property (and later their lives). This might have taught the young Israeli state to avoid similar actions. The expropriation of ROCOR property was made under the same criminal circumstances which the Jews had experienced themselves. What happened in Hebron and Jericho recently - and which might happen soon near Jerusalem - shows how the Palestinian Authorities learned to ignore any judicial ruling. The ones who profit - the MP and the Russian Government - are to blame, of course, but the ones who implement the illegal actions are even more culpable. It shows that dealing with Palestine, on a political or economic level, could be treacherous. But what about the two Russian Churches - why are they not uniting, one might ask, now that the Cold War has ended? The Cold War may have ended elsewhere, but not in Palestine. The behaviour of the MP shows that nothing has changed fundamentally after the breakdown of Communism in Soviet Russia. Russia can hardly be considered a democratic state at present. The structures and KGB-methods remain the same. Jericho and Hebron are witness to this. For any real Church-Unification a better basis should be for than we witnness today.
Lörrach, January 29th, 2000
Notice in English
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