Towards the Dawn

 Oona King MP for Bethnal Green & Bow, launched Garth Hewitt's new book Towards the Dawn last Wednesday at Church House, Westminster.

The book takes the reader on a journey through the Church year from Easter to Trinity, and geographically from Jerusalem through Bethlehem to Nazareth and Galilee. It tells the story of the current situation through the voices of the Christian Church, and through peacemakers from all communities, Jewish, Christian and Muslim.

At the launch, Ms King, who visited the Holy Land last year with Christian Aid, said: "It was shattering to go in 2003 and see what was happening in the Gaza Strip. Just in 1997, one third of all Palestinians lived below the poverty line; now two thirds of Palestinian children are in that situation."

Ms King spoke of her "visual horror of seeing the wall". She said: "We have been trying to move away from all those barriers - the Berlin Wall coming down was such an important moment for the world. We thought we had learned the lesson that dividing people physically is not an answer It is dividing people from their land and their livelihoods. We are moving back towards the Dark Ages with this. With my personal background from a Jewish family I find it quite astounding."

Oona King added: "It is so important to have sane voices, not just within the political context, but within civil society including churches and religious organisations. I hope that dialogue will continue to show up accurately the things that have been happening in the Occupied Territories."

Garth Hewitt said: "The Christian community are leaving because the situation is so desperate - very soon we may see the end of the indigenous Christian community in the Holy Land unless we listen to them now."

He added that a priest in Galilee asked the question of Christians in the West: "are you still our brothers and sisters in Christ?", and commented that "it is time for us to answer that by going and visiting and listening to them."

Garth pointed out that though these are very dark times, "the darkest hour is just before the dawn", and the book reflects the courage and the resurrection faith of this amazing community.

Towards the Dawn, published by SPCK, is available at bookstores or on-line through Amazon on our front page.

First published LONDON - 23 January 2004 - 390 words

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