Dr Bernard Sabella, Executive Secretary of the Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees (DSPR) writes on justice:
Justice refers to “the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness: as in upholding the justice of a cause.” DSPR of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) has always upheld the justice of the Palestinian cause and the need for a life of dignity for Palestinian refugees.
We work in a variety of contexts and with a volatile unstable situation. The 11-day Gaza war in May 2021 left hundreds of casualties and caused extensive damage to essential services.
In Lebanon, the overall instability contributes to further poverty and desperation among the population, affecting particularly the refugees and the marginalised.
In Jerusalem and the West Bank, the shadow of the Separation Barrier adds to the injustice felt by Palestinian farmer communities as it encircles the Holy City of Jerusalem and isolates the communities from each other.
In Syria, thousands of Palestinian refugees became refugees once again as they headed either to Lebanon or to Jordan to escape the effects of the continuing civil strife in their country.
In Jordan, the influx of millions of refugees poses the challenge of how to meet their needs and those of the host communities, often in refugee camps.
In Galilee, where the Palestinian Arab community suffers the results of structural built-in discrimination in development strategies and budgets, the challenge is how to help the Arab and Jewish communities to be open to each other and sensitise both on the cost of inequalities.
The trauma of continued conflict and the instability of conditions of life for Palestinian refugees and communities highlight the need for justice. Reaching out to these people who have rights, to empower them and to make them feel a sense of justice is one of our objectives in DSPR. Success stories make us aware that justice can be achieved when individuals and affected communities are determined to overcome restrictions on their rights, aspirations and on their development. A just solution to conflict starts with the transformation of individual lives so that dignity and hope become sustainable.
It is our belief in DSPR/MECC that justice starts with the transformation of individual lives. Politicians and policymakers need to learn of these transformations and to make them building stones for a just and lasting resolution to ongoing conflicts in our region.
In this Advent Season DSPR/MECC would like to quote the words of Godfrey Reggio, an American documentary film director: “So to hope to be able to have peace, to be able to have justice and environmental balance are consequences of our behaviour, not just our intentions.
May the infant babe of Bethlehem grant us all hope, peace and justice.
Give Joy and Justice this Christmas.