World Day of Prayer


I beg you, bear with one another in love

1 March 2024 - Palestine

Palestine

 
Artist for the Day of Prayer 2024: Halima Aziz
 

Halima Aziz (born in Hagen, Germany, in 1999) is a passionate Palestinian visual artist and design student based in Germany. Her parents are from Tulkarm and Gaza. She grew up in Palestine but, following the war in 2008, the family moved back to Germany. Halima was interested in art from an early age and started painting professionally in 2017 while participating in an art school project. She paints in acrylic and oil on canvas, or sometimes with watercolours on fine art paper. She enjoys making colourful and eye-catching paintings most of which express specific feelings or have a specific meaning. Halima is mostly inspired by nature, art museums, books or her native Palestine. Through her paintings she is proudly representing Palestinian heritage, identity, life, culture, history and tradition. Her artwork has been exhibited internationally three times.
 
The artwork: “Praying Palestinian Women”
 
The artwork, shows three Palestinian women praying together in a peaceful, outdoor space and is aptly named ‘Praying Palestinian Women’. Halima has used motifs and symbols which indicate the origin and cohesiveness of these women: Olive trees are a sign of everlasting and abundant life because they can live for thousands of years. The Palestinian people are deeply rooted in their country and this is underlined by the golden roots of the tree. Poppy flowers are abundant and meaningful as they are a reminder of loved ones who have given their lives for their country. Traditional Palestinian dress such as the tatreez (embroidery), thobe (dress) or the white scarf symbolise the people’s creativity and their country’s rich heritage. The keys are a symbol of the hope to return back to Palestine.

As of 31 July 2019, 138 of the 193 United Nations member states have recognised Palestine as a state with observer status, allowing them to take part in general debates, and the Palestinian flag now flies outside the United Nations.

Fauna Flora and Geography
Historic Palestine includes Bethlehem, Nazareth, the River Jordan and Jerusalem. The country is part of a large land mass connecting Asia, Europe and Africa known as the Fertile Crescent giving rise to its unique geography and geology. Palestine is ‘The Land of Milk and Honey’ and agriculture is a highly valued occupation with many Palestinians cultivating their own plots and gardens.

Agriculture
The olive tree is a symbol of deep roots, longevity, and a sustainable livelihood. For this reason, we used the olive tree as a symbol throughout our worship service. Olives and olive oil have been used throughout the history of our region for medicinal purposes, healthy cooking, and to bless the foreheads of people.

Another plant in Palestine is the cactus, which originally came from Latin America, but which has become an inseparable element of Palestine. This cactus, called the “prickly pear” bears delicious fruit. [1]

Gaza
Gaza is located on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, bordering Egypt and Israel. Gaza covers 365 sq km with over 2 million inhabitants, nearly half of them children, making Gaza the third most densely populated area in the world. Although there are less than one thousand Christians in Gaza, there is a strong feeling of ecumenical belonging and service to the whole community.

The West Bank
The West Bank is so named because it is on the west bank of the Jordan River. After the Oslo Accords of 1993-1995 the West Bank was divided into Areas A, B and C. The Palestinian Authority, formed in 1994, was given partial civil control over Areas A and B. Today the Palestinian Authority is based in Ramallah which is the capital of Palestine.

Education
School and universities have contributed to the maintenance of Palestinian national life. The majority of private schools are run by a variety of religious organisations and children of all faiths are welcome to attend.

Palestinian Art and Culture
Palestinian art finds its roots in folk art and traditional Christian and Islamic painting. The vibrant tatreeze style of embroidery is worn by Palestinians worldwide on festive occasions as a means of unifying or literally weaving together all Palestinians.

Graffiti artists from various political affiliations and backgrounds document their struggle against the occupation, their main canvas being the West Bank separation wall.

The West Bank festival with the farthest global reach is the Palestine International Festival. Held in many towns including Bethlehem, Nazareth and Ramallah during July, it hosts Palestinian culture displays and invites dance and music groups from all over the Mediterranean to take part.

People and Population
Palestinians are a scattered population with over 12 million living all over the world. Estimates suggest that just over 5 million Palestinians currently reside in Palestine and Israel. There is a small Christian minority in this predominantly Muslim country, making up about 2% of the Palestinian population.

The Role of Women
The role and structure of family is important, and the extended family is the most common structure in Palestinian society. In direct response to rising rates of early child miscarriages and high levels of reported domestic abuse against younger women, the minimum age for marriage increased to 18 in 2019. The Ministry of women’s Affairs established in 2003 is the main governmental agency responsible for promoting and protecting women’s rights in Palestine.

CEDAW
Under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, calls continue to be made to improve the human rights of women, for them to be further protected and to increase the number of women participating as decision makers.

Health
In general, hospitals in Palestine are well equipped, however the Palestinian health care system suffers from a lack of financial support, and restrictions on movement make it difficult for Palestinians to access health care easily.

Some private hospitals, under church supervision, are open to all Palestinians, regardless of faith tradition, strengthening the relationship between all members of the community.

Christianity and Interfaith Issues
The Christian Church in Palestine is an active church, rich in history and diverse in traditions, with a unique mission and calling. In the area from which Christianity spread and many denominations arose, Jerusalem alone is home to thirteen historically recognised churches throughout the Holy Land and worldwide. Christian-Jewish interfaith connections are central in the ongoing conversations regarding Israel and Palestine.

The World day of Prayer
The National Committee in Palestine works in conjunction with a wide variety of organisations that are connected to the Christian Church. Involvement with the movement since the 1950s has enabled Palestinian women to interact with over 100 countries, strengthening the Middle East presence and witness.

The invitation to write the service for 2024 was an opportunity to reflect on continuing challenging times, encouraging Palestinian Christian women to keep searching for a deeper understanding among all the people who share the land, trusting for and hoping in the humanity of one another.

[1] On the back inside cover of Together in Prayer Magazine (issue 41) the image labelled ‘Fig plants prickly fruits’ should state that prickly fruit come from Cactus plants.