The bishops of the Holy Land Co-ordination visited the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel's second oldest university, on Monday 15 January 2018. Bishop Dónal McKeown of Derry, Ireland, reflects on a meeting with a group of law students who are studying multiculturalism and deal with legal cases regarding people who have encountered discrimination.
Greetings from the holy city of Jerusalem where we’re here with the Holy Land Co-ordination.
Our focus this year is on young people and we had a wonderful meeting this afternoon (15 January 2018) at the Hebrew University with a number of young students – law students who have a passion for human rights and can see where their studies impinge upon their current society.
I must say I found it a very moving occasion.
I had come, after earlier visits over these past few days, quite angry at the situation of people in Gaza, angry after hearing from students in the West Bank this morning near Bethlehem, and I had to cope with that anger in myself as I met these these young students at the Hebrew University.
What I really discovered was what we’ve learned from Northern Ireland, that you have to listen to people. People can only begin to move from where they are if you listen.
Earlier I found idealistic young Palestinian students and seminarians, today I find idealistic young Jewish students who want to believe in the possibility of a state for the Jewish people.
Yet you also want to believe in the possibility of a rights-based democratic society here. The people are living with those tensions and we really hope that the next generations will ensure that their children and their grandchildren can live in a better environment.
So today, having come with a lot of anger and sadness from what we saw elsewhere, I really find the encounter with intelligent young potential professionals – people who can move their society into the future – a sign of the hope that I’d been struggling to obtain so far.
Today has been a good day, a tiring day, a moving day, an emotional day, but a day of grace.
The prayers we said this morning in the Greek Catholic Melkite church have been fulfilled already. It has been a day of blessings and for that I thank God.