I am now in Moscow, which once again became a holy city, with hundreds of churches, all full of worshippers in their holiday attire. They stand now inside and outside the edifices, holding lit candles, preparing themselves to the glorious moment, a few minutes after midnight, when the priests will call out Christ is Risen, and the congregation will reply with Verily He is Risen. Huge cross-street boards announce that Christ is Risen, blissfully unaware of political correctness limitations.
I came here from the Holy Land, which is also a wonderful place for Easter, but Moscow has something that even Jerusalem has not got: totality of experience. Here it is the feast for everybody, by everybody. Happiness is celebrating Christmas in the West, and Easter in the East. That is because the West stresses human nature of Christ, the East prefers his divine nature. Try and do it next year, or any other year, until voracious modernity will swallow the last glimpse of spirit.
I have been invited to speak on the Russian TV, announcing my belief that there is no confrontation between Christianity and Islam, though enemies of both faiths try to create it. Political problems are just that – political, and not theological. And in the political sphere, Palestine is a powerful uniting knot. Yes, we want Palestine to be saved, but its suffering is not in vain if it keeps our friends united and our enemies in disarray. Without Palestine, it would be much easier to unleash Christians upon Muslims, Shias upon Sunnis, Russians against Chinese and Arabs against Iranians. This is the Christ-nature of Palestine and its fate.
I came to Moscow when she suffered the bomb attack. By God, Russians are different: there was a very responsible, calm and compassionate coverage, none of hysterical frenzy we are accustomed to in Israel – or in America. They tried to keep repercussions down to minimum; though security is beefed up in anticipation of possible follow-up, but the city remained calm.
This calm gives the lie to rumours spread by the usual suspects that the explosions were somehow orchestrated by local forces keen to suppress citizens' liberties. In Israel, or in America such explosions would be utilized by the state to unleash their fury on defenceless Gaza or Afghanistan, to attack and profile Muslims, to bring in new laws muzzling people by Patriot acts. Nothing of this sort happens in Russia. The civil rights are not infringed. The attacks were meant to undermine the position of the Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is responsible for general security. Their second objective was to facilitate Russian vote against Iran. These goals point out the guiding hand: it is surely to be found well beyond Caucasus Mountains.
I've met today with Russian Muslims, including the Mufti; all of them condemn the acts, all of them stress that it was not in their interests. The Mufti correctly said that the Russian Muslims have no single will; they are not united on any question; things done by people who happen to be Muslims are not done because they are Muslims. Likewise, IRA bombings were not done because the Irish nationalists were Catholic.
Some of our friends refer to Chechen plight. No doubt, the first Chechen war was a crime perpetrated by the West's appointee Boris Yeltsin. But this is past long gone. Now Chechens have all the rights, the Chechens in Moscow are a highly visible and prosperous community, with a status that Palestinians would be extremely lucky to achieve. Now there is no reason for confrontation, and there is every reason for healing. Alas, some of the Chechen rebels joined the path of CIA stooges of al-Qaeda. It is better to give up on them like we gave up on Tamil Tigers.
Much in our world depends on Russia. Together with China, she can save Iran and the Middle East. Russian anti-Putin dissidents led by Kasparov and Bonner call to distance Russia from China, to support the West against Iran, and stand by Israel against Palestine. There is a place for dissent; much of internal Russian politics are in shambles, the gap between the rich and the poor is too big; income tax stands at ridiculous 12%, neoliberalism is still alive and kicking. But one should be cautious and support the right (meaning the left) sort of dissent.
We are going through a very important and tricky patch; this is a wrong time to relax and wait-and-see; this is the time to act, to act for peace. Not a fake peace of surrender, but the true peace of victory. Its best example is the Christ's victory over Death.
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