Perfectly in line with last week’s Torah Portion, the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem has shown their blatant contempt for God’s promise given to Abraham.
Everyone is familiar with God’s promise to Abraham: “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you…” (Genesis 12:3a NKJV)
A more literal translation of this verse, however, reads like this:
“I will bless him who blesses you, and curse him who shows you contempt.” (Genesis 12:3a WEB)
Whoa! Time to sit up and pay attention. Most of us would never dream of cursing someone, let alone a nation. Showing contempt, however, is something that any one of us could do without thinking much of it.
Recently, a Palestinian building project called “Lana” was announced for East Jerusalem. The project is being spearheaded by multi-billionaire Palestinian businessman Bashar Masri, the same man who also built Rawabi. To celebrate and launch the project, a press conference was held on October 11th, 2021, at the St. George Hotel in Jerusalem. In attendance were Patriarch Theophilos III, Patriarch of Jerusalem; Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, the Grand Mufti of Palestine; Honorable Sheikh Azzam Khateeb, Head of the Islamic Waqf; Evangelos Vlioras, the Greek Consul General in Jerusalem; Hanna Ameireh and Issa Qassiessieh, representatives of the Presidential Committee on Churches’ Affairs; and Palestinian businessman Jalal Nassr-Eddin; as well as other bishops and leaders in Jerusalem.
To learn more about the “Lana” project (which means “ours” in Arabic), I encourage you to watch last week’s episode on The Israel Guys Youtube channel. In this article, however, I’d like to highlight two significant aspects of this story – the reason behind the “Lana” building project and the partnership with the Greek Orthodox Church.
According to The Orthodox Times website, the launch of the “Lana” building project in East Jerusalem is the “result of a partnership between the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and Massar International Company, headquartered in Rawabi.”
Patriarch Theophilos III, Patriarch of Jerusalem, spoke of the project at the press conference as “a symbol of cooperation between the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the wider local community to improve people’s living standards, provide housing, and job opportunities for thousands of citizens in the city, especially in light of the immense challenges that our Holy City and its community are witnessing.”
During his speech, he said:
“The vision of our esteemed friend and partner, Bashar Masri, to create a comprehensive communal living experience makes the “Lana” neighborhood housing development a model of progressive thinking in the field of community living.”
There’s two underlying issues that I’d like to dive deeper into. On a surface level, this project seems like a beautiful way to improve the lives of Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, provide jobs for Palestinians, etc. There’s just one problem: According to the “Lana” website, the building project is described as follows:
“Lana” is a modern mixed-use neighborhood built to serve the Palestinian people of Jerusalem, providing residences and integrated retail in an atmosphere of comfort, luxury and elegance.
The “Lana” website describes the project as luxury apartments. However, they are being built in a very poor and rough neighborhood of Jerusalem, Beit Hanina. The developer, Bashar Masri, was also responsible for building Rawabi, the first modern, western-style city in the so-called “West Bank.” While “Lana” is being promoted as luxury apartments, Rawabi apartments were built as an affordable option for Palestinians. Even though Rawabi is nearly finished, and apartments have been ready to move in for several years, it remains a ghost town. Earlier this year we traveled to Rawabi and documented how empty the city is, even several years after the apartments were opened for sale to the public. Watch our video of going into a Palestinian Village here.
This begs the question. If Bashar Masri cannot sell economy apartments in a beautiful, western-style city to his own people, how will he sell luxury-style apartments to the Palestinians of East Jerusalem? Since Masri undoubtedly knows this, this can only lead us to the conclusion that this project is just another way to plant the Palestinian foothold, not only in Judea and Samaria, but also in Jerusalem, with the hope that one day the city will be their capital in their own state.
The Greek Orthodox Church also knows this, and is not only a willing participant, but an eager partner in this land-grab project. This brings me back to the Torah portion for last week.
It should be expected that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, the Islamic Waqf, and Bashar Masri would have an ideology showing contempt for Israel. However, for the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem to partner with them in their contempt is akin to spitting in God’s face, especially when their faith should align with Abraham and the covenant that God made with him in Genesis.
Ironically, they also chose a very significant week for launching the “Lana” building project in Jerusalem. While Genesis 12:3 was being read in homes all over the world, the Arabs of Jerusalem and the Greek Orthodox church decided to show their contempt for God’s covenant made with Abraham. Unfortunately, God promises that a curse will ultimately follow for showing contempt to His promise.
Ultimately, when it comes to God’s promises, we have to decide where we stand. There’s no option to sit on the fence. Will we bless Israel unconditionally or will we show contempt for her land and people?
Where will you stand?