Israeli tanks take up positions on a street in the West Bank city of Ramallah where an ECUSA-run school has been forced to close.
Frank Griswold, Presiding Bishop of the U.S. Episcopal church, has written to Secretary of State Colin Powell complaining about the Israeli closing of an Episcopal school near Jerusalem.
The Arab Evangelical School in Ramallah, 10 miles north of Jerusalem founded in 1954, belongs to the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. Of its 568 students from kindergarten to high school, 70 per cent are Christians and 30 per cent are Muslims. On Dec.13, Israeli military forces dug a deep trench across the main road, adjacent to one side of the school, making the road impassable. On the other side of the school, tanks blocked the road to prevent access.
A nearby Christian family, supporters of the school, was evicted from its home, which now serves as a barracks for 30 Israeli soldiers.
Meanwhile, on Dec. 20 Israeli troops began withdrawing from positions in Ramallah which were taken following suicide bombings in Jerusalem and Haifa.
“While I am altogether sympathetic to the needs of Israel to protect herself against terrorist attack, I and many other Episcopalians are deeply concerned by what appears to be an overstepping of the requirements for security,” Bishop Griswold’s letter said. He added that in this case the children at the school are victims, “who are being taught the art of peace-making as an integral part of their overall curriculum.”
(Bishop Griswold led a delegation of church leaders who visited Mr. Powell in June to discuss peace in the Middle East.)
The Arab Evangelical School is funded in part by the Jerusalem 2000 project, an appeal to Episcopalians and Anglicans worldwide, which is raising money for a new secondary school building, classrooms, labs and equipment. The Jerusalem 2000 campaign, Building Presence, Building Peace, is a collaborative effort of the Episcopal Church in the U.S.A. and the rest of the Anglican Communion.