Saturday, November 29, 2008
Mairead Corrigan Maguire, The Electronic Intifada, 29 November 2008
The following is a speech delivered by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire at the seventh International Sabeel Conference in Jerusalem on 19 November 2008:
"I am very happy to be here with you and to be invited to speak to you. I want to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Naim Ateek, and all those who helped to organize this conference.
I am deeply grateful to have the freedom to come here to East Jerusalem and the freedom to speak and meet with you.
In this the 2lst century many of us take freedom for granted, but not everyone has freedom here in Israel/Palestine. I realized this, yet again, when I told a Palestinian friend I was attending this conference and he told me that though he was born in Jerusalem he is not allowed to come into East Jerusalem.This brought home to me that East Jerusalem is indeed an integral part of the occupied territory of Palestine and many Arab people born here are not allowed into East Jerusalem.
Many Arabs who do live in East Jerusalem live in fear of their homes being demolished or expulsion by the Israeli Government -- such as the al-Kurd family home in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem where the Supreme court has ruled on the expulsion of this family from their home. Since l967 almost 20,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished in the West Bank.
The expulsions and demolitions continue almost daily, along with continuing development of illegal settlements for Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem, and the West Bank. A few days ago I visited the site in West Jerusalem where the Israelis are building a Museum of Tolerance upon an ancient Muslim cemetery, where the bones of the Muslims' ancestors are being exhumed.
This is deeply painful to the Muslim people and I would like to appeal for this project to be cancelled....."