Israeli wall will affect Salesian school and winery

The United States Catholic bishops have joined the bishops of the Holy Land in condemning the Israeli government’s plans to re-route its separation wall through the Cremisan Valley, near Bethlehem, in a way that will cut 58 Christian families off from their agricultural and recreational lands.

The proposed route of the Israeli wall will also affect the Salesian order’s Cremisan monastery and winery, which will be on the Israel side of the wall.

The Salesian sisters who educate about 450 West Bank children fear their pupils will no longer be able to come to school, and the West Bank labourers who work in the winery’s vineyards and maintain the Salesian buildings fear they will lose their jobs.

Not only will the workers be on the other side of the wall and need permits to travel to the winery, but the wall will also separate the monastery from grapes supplied from other religious communities on the West Bank.

“Proceeding with this plan will cut families off from agricultural and recreational lands, other family members, water sources, and schools — including depriving Christian Palestinian youth of fellowship with their peers,” said Bishop Richard Pates, chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ committee on international justice and peace.

“The Cremisan Valley situation is a microcosm of a protracted pattern that has serious implications for the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Bishop Pates said in a letter to recently-retired US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“As the wall moves and constricts more and more communities in the West Bank, the possibility of a future resolution becomes less likely.

“Moving the wall and disassociating Palestinian families from their lands and livelihoods will incite more resentment against the state of Israel among residents of the West Bank, not less, increasing the frustrations that can lead to violence.”

In addition to its range of table wines, the Cremisan winery makes altar wine that is used in many of the shrines of the Holy Land — and is also exported to churches in Britain.


United States Conference of Catholic Bishops


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Image: CNEWA

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