Sunday 23 April 2023

The People of Saint George

There is a legend about Saint George, but he himself is not a purely legendary figure. His tomb at his birthplace, which is now known as Lod, was once a major focus of unity between Christians and Muslims in devotion to the Patron Saint of Palestine, Lebanon and Egypt before, and as much as, the Patron Saint of England. But three quarters of those who practised that devotion were violently expelled at the foundation of the State of Israel in 1948.

In similar vein, it is proposed to expand Jerusalem Walls National Park to include the Mount of Olives, under the control of Elad, a militant Israeli settler organisation. Benjamin Netanyahu depends for his parliamentary majority on people who actively believe that there is a religious obligation to burn down churches, since they hold the Divinity of Christ to be an idolatrous assertion. They recently desecrated the Protestant cemetery on Mount Zion, where it is maintained by the local Anglican diocese on behalf of a British owner.

While fourth generation Israelis could not possibly be told to “go home”, the State of Israel’s having been founded in the same year that the Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury, it is clear from the Bible that the pre-Israelite population, the founders of Jerusalem, never went away. They never have. They became Christian when or before the Roman Empire did, and they adopted the use of Arabic at the time of a Muslim Conquest contemporaneous with the Saxon Conquest of what is now England. Those ancient indigenous Christians are still there. The founders of modern Palestinian identity, they are the people of Shireen Abu Akleh, the people of Saint George. Parties that burn down their churches are now in government in Israel, and are about to take control of the Mount of Olives.