Garth Hewitt, singer and director of the Amos Trust, an Anglican charity which supported the Christian community in the Holy Land, has just completed a series of concerts in Israel and Palestine. The concerts ranged from St John's Church in Haifa and St George's Melkite Church in Tarshiha - in Galilee, to St George's Anglican Cathedral in East Jerusalem, St Andrew's Church Ramallah and the Peace Centre in Manger Square in Bethlehem. Garth said: "People were wonderfully welcoming and hospitable - however they are feeling forgotten by the world, not least by the Christian Community nd long for people to visit and hear their story first hand". Garth was also leading a group of young people from the Amos Collective with Beki Bateson (who also manages the Greenbelt Festival). Most of the group were visiting the Holy Land for the first time and were shocked to see that the Wall was expanding every day, especially in the Bethlehem area, and to see the impact of the ever growing settlements in the West Bank. The group also had the chance to meet the Christian Peacemakers in Hebron, and to see something of the impact of these remarkable pacifist Christians trying to protect the community there. Just as they arrived, an incident occurred in Maghar, a village in Galilee, where the Druze drove out over 2, 000 Christians and burned homes and shops. The refugees are now scattered across Galilee. The shock was particularly deep as the police did not protect the Christians from these attacks, and some members of the police were involved. This is making the Christian community of Israel feel particularly insecure. Christian leaders within the Holy Land have accused Israel of neglecting its responsibility for the security of indigenous Christians. Christians see this as a 'pogrom' against them. Leaders like Anglican Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal and Abuna Elias Chacour, a Greek Melkite Priest from Ibillin, were involved in trying to ask for protection for the local Christians. Garth commented: "The racism against Palestinian people whether they are Palestinian Israeli citizens, or whether they are the Palestinians within the West Bank is causing a level of despair that I have never seen before in all the years I've visited. World leaders seem out of touch with the daily incursions by the Israeli army, the breaking of international law, the regular killings that are occurring, and the destruction of the economy of the Palestinian people who feel completely betrayed by the Oslo agreement. They are certainly not feeling optimistic about peace at the moment; indeed peace discussions sound like a fantasy compared to the reality of what they face daily on the ground". Amos Trust will be taking another pilgrimage group to the Holy Land in June as part of their regular commitment to meet with and bring support to the 'Living Stones' - local Christians and Jewish and Muslim peacemakers. Source: Amos Trust
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