Our father, Arthur Stern (z”l), was a Holocaust survivor, so like many Jews, today’s Yom Ha’Shoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day –touches us personally.
Born in Beirut, Lebanon on August 31, 1950 (Son of Fawzi Francis Kobti and Verginie Elias El-Sharif). Studied at the Latin Patriarchate Seminary of Jerusalem from 1963-1975. Worked as a teacher at Terra Santa College 1973-1974 (Franciscan Fathers of the Custody of the Holy...Read More
Seeking truth and justice
…continuation of the ecumenical path” towards Christian unity
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday travels to Cairo to meet with Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Egypt’s al-Azhar university. The pope will spend just over 24 hours in the Egyptian capital, where he’ll also meet with the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II and leaders of the small Catholic community there.
At al-Azhar university Pope Francis will speak at an international peace conference which the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is also be attending. His visit to the prestigious Islamic institution comes just two months after the resumption of talks between the university and a Vatican delegation.
Professor Gabriel Said Reynolds teaches Islamic Studies and Theology at the University of Notre Dame in the United States and was a member of the Catholic delegation for the talks at al-Azhar in February, which came after years of tension and mistrust between the two sides.Read More
CAIRO (Reuters) – Pope Francis arrives in Cairo on Friday hoping to mend ties with Islamic religious leaders but his message of peace comes as Egypt’s Coptic Christian community faces unprecedented pressure from Islamic State militants who have threatened to wipe it out.
Below are some facts about Egypt’s Coptic Christians:
— The Coptic Orthodox Church is one of oldest in the world. It is the principal Christian church in predominantly Muslim Egypt. Its members are called Coptic Orthodox, distinguishing them from Copts who converted to Catholicism and from the Eastern Orthodox, who are mostly Greek.Read More
…a threshold of hope designed to strengthen Islamic-Christian relations
abouna.org, CAIRO – Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa has entrusted Fr. Rif’at Bader, director of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media in Jordan (CCSM) to represent him at Al-Azhar International Conference on Peace due to convene in Cairo on Thursday, April 27, as well as at the audiences of His Holiness Pope Francis in Egypt on Friday and Saturday April 28-29.Read More
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel arrived in Jerusalem for a prearranged meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Prime Minister canceled the meeting.
Ma’an reported Thursday that a general strike has begun in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
As part of the strike, Palestinians shut down their shops and businesses in solidarity with the more than 1,500 Palestinian prisoners now enduring the 11th day of their “Freedom and Dignity” hunger strike.
The Arabic graffiti above means, “Salt and Water,” the only nutrients striking prisoners allow themselves. Placed on the locked door of a Palestinian sh0p, “salt and water” signals support for the strike which was organized by imprisoned Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouthi.
The general strike calls for a Day of Rage on Friday, April 28, during which Palestinians are expected to show their solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners’ movement.Read More
April 27, 2017 – “What is the role of churches in peace-building? How are they actually involved? Which are the ecumenical challenges, and especially which are the ecumenical opportunities that arise from joint efforts at peace building?”
These were some of the questions on the table as the Executive of the Joint Working Group (JWG) of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Roman Catholic Church met in Dublin, Ireland on 24-26 April.
In a communiqué issued on 27 April, the group stressed that migration and peace-building in situations of violence are the two burning issues that the JWG wants to address more specifically during its present mandate.Read More
Tveit reflected that, together, Christians and Muslims represent about half the world’s population. “So as we are here, we are not talking about only ourselves,” he said. “We are talking about humanity in many ways. We should address these questions from a basic theological perspective. What does it mean to believe today in one God that created the one humanity?”
April 26, 2017 – The second meeting of a delegation of the Muslim Council of Elders led by the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, His Eminence Professor Dr Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, and a delegation of the World Council of Churches (WCC) led by Dr Agnes Abuom, Moderator of the Central Committee of the WCC and Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary, took place at Al Azhar, Cairo, Egypt, 26 April. Dr Al-Tayyeb opened the gathering by welcoming the World Council of Churches to this important meeting which was taking place at a critical time in the history of the Middle East and the world.Read More
There is much interest in how Francis will frame his peace message at the conference, particularly in relation to the ongoing terrorism that claims to find its justification in the Quran and what ways he will suggest for Christian and Muslim religious leaders to combat terrorism and work together for peace in Egypt and the Middle East.
by Gerard O’Connell | America, the Jesuit Review | April 26, 2017
Pope Francis’ two-day visit to Egypt on April 28-29 will be a significant interreligious and ecumenical event as well as a pastoral one: interreligious, as it aims to foster joint Christian-Muslim efforts for peace and the rejection of the use of the name of God to support violence and terrorism; ecumenical because it seeks to further deepen the growing friendship between the Catholic and Coptic churches; and pastoral, since it hopes to bring consolation and encouragement to the country’s tiny, hard-pressed Catholic community.
He will arrive in a country under a state of emergency declared by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi following terrorist attacks—claimed by ISIS—on the Coptic churches of Tanta and Alexandria on Palm Sunday that killed 44 believers and injured over 100. The Egyptian leader then ordered the army to maintain security in the cities and to protect places of worship.Read More
What does Israel’s West Bank settlement policy have to do with international soccer?
Dr. James M. Dorsey, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies and the co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, is the leading world expert on this subject. He is the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer, a book that among other things explores the topic of this episode’s discussion. Dorsey closely follows the way in which the Israeli-Palestinian conflict plays out on the soccer field, in FIFA, the international soccer association.Read More
Americans for Peace Now | April 20, 2017
With a heavy heart, we are writing to let you know that we have decided to suspend our 2017 Israel Study Tour, pending clarifications from the government of Israel regarding the new “Entry Law,” which could be used to deny entry into Israel to individuals and organizations that publicly support boycotting settlement products.
We are therefore canceling our planned June tour. We do not know yet whether we will reschedule this tour to another date this year or whether we’ll have to suspend our Israel Study Tour program indefinitely, until the law is either revoked, amended or applied in a way that does not impact APN, its staff members, Board members and activists.Read More
Children Representing Holy Land Offer the Lesson on April 27, During Catholic Action’s International Congress, Will Help Pope Prepare for Trip to Egypt
by Deborah Castellano Lubov | zenit.org | April 25, 2017
A family from Bethlehem will teach Pope Francis the words of the Sign of the Cross in Arabic, the day before he leaves for Egypt for his 18th Apostolic Visit to Cairo, April 28-29.
“In this way, the Pope will be more prepared for his visit,” said children Anthony and Lea, who together with their parents, Vincenzo and Carol Bellomo, are representatives of the Holy Land in Catholic Actions 2nd International Congress.Read More
Yale University | April 23, 2017
Introduced by Rebecca Vilkomerson, Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace, Gandhi Peace Award Honoree Omar Barghouti describes victories of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) in the effort for Palestinian justice.Read More
Charges dropped against AMP staffers
Thanks in part to public pressure from activists and attention from major media outlets around the world, the federal government has dropped all charges against American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) staffers Taher Herzallah and Kareem El Hosseiny.Read More
Dad applied lessons from the Holocaust into a commitment to human rights, equality and justice in the US and in Israel.
Our father, Arthur Stern (z”l), was a Holocaust survivor, so like many Jews, today’s Yom Ha’Shoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day –touches us personally.
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities have notified Israeli travel agencies that they will be forced to sign a commitment pledging not to take groups of tourists to the occupied West Bank, according to a copy the notification obtained by Ma’an on Sunday.
In the Hebrew-language document dated April 23, the Border Control Department of the Israeli Population and Immigration Authority notifies travel agencies that as of May 15, the day when Palestinians commemorate the 1948 Nakba, they will have to “attach, with each request to bring a group of tourists into the country, a special form pledging that they will not send tourists to Judea and Samaria,” using the Israeli term for the occupied West Bank.Read More
It’s also known as the Church of the Ten Lepers
by Maria C. Khoury, EdD, of Taybeh
On the Gregorian calendar, the 23rd of April is the holy Feast Day of Saint George. In Orthodox Christian tradition, which uses the Julian calendar, feasts are celebrated thirteen days later.
Saint George is the most beloved saint in the whole Middle East and the patron saint of Taybeh in particular and Palestine in general. In addition to the honor of having our own Saint George Church in Taybeh, I happen to have had the great blessing of seeing the new renovations at Saint George Greek Orthodox Church in Burqin this week.
While we few Christians left in Burqin, we have lots of miracles and a deep tradition of Saint George oral history. The seventy Christians who live there are maintaining the Light of Christ; you can imagine this means hardly ten families.Read More
We know that shortly after being risen, Jesus appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus, not far from Jerusalem …. that is where we are going!
The Sacred Scriptures tell us that the Risen Jesus appeared to the disciples who were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus, a small village about 11 kilometers away from the Holy City.Read More
Indeed, the Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti, now heading a mass hunger strike in the Israeli prisons, was sentenced by an Israeli court to five life terms. The New York Times was ready to publish this fact after the high-level protests made by the Government of Israel.
Prime Minister Netanyahu and his ministers should be reminded of some more facts. For example, in the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, carried out on July 22, 1946, by the Etzel (Irgun) underground organization headed by Menachem Begin, 91 people were killed. Of them, as reported at the time, 28 were Britons, 41 Arabs, 17 Jews, and five others.Read More
They Will Accompany Him to Al-Azhar University and Join in the Dialogue with the Other High Authorities of Sunni Islam that Condemn Terrorism
by Anne Kurian | Zenit
The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, will be in Cairo next to Pope Francis during the the Pontiff ‘s trip to Egypt on April 28-29. Together, they will visit Al-Azhar University, thus giving a strong sign in favor of Christian unity and inter-religious dialogue.Read More
Alison Weir, If Americans Knew
A review of my book by prominent intellectual Ziad Hafez has been published by Contemporary Arab Affairs, a quarterly journal issued in London by Taylor and Francis and sponsored by the Center of Arab Unity Studies.
Mr. Hafez calls the book “explosive and meticulously researched” and says “its scholarly content makes it an indispensable tool for any researcher on the root cause of Middle Eastern turmoil.”Read More
by James M. Wall | Wallwritings | April 19, 2017
The Irish writer is Eimear McBride. The scholar is a fellow named Chas Freeman. They did not actually walk into a bar together. Most likely they have never met. But they are soul-mates.
Chas and Eimear have each recently offered readers a deeper look into the evils of Israel’s occupation. The old “walk into a bar” line is merely a device to entice you to read what they want to share.
Eimear McBride speaks first. She is back from her first visit to Palestine. She is angry. She has brought many pictures with her. She slams one of them on a table.
In the picture, a Palestinian boy stands on the tiled floor of what had been his bathroom. The roof and the walls are gone.
The house was not bombed. It was destroyed, one might say to the boy, by some bad people who didn’t want him to live there.Read More
His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II attended a special Easter event for the children of different orphanages in Damascus. This event was organized by St. Jacob Baradeus Church in Jaramana. The children of the “Little Angel House” also participated in this event.Read More
by Miriam Berger | Women & Girls | East Jerusalem | April 14, 2017
Radia Salhout, 36, dreads Tuesdays. That’s when she rises extra early in her small house in Jabal Mukabar, a poor, tough part of Palestinian East Jerusalem. After making sure all is set for her teenage son’s day, she rides a bus that snakes through the hills, then gets off and walks to another bus stop. There she meets up with other unemployed women who, like her, are headed to the Israeli Employment Office for Palestinians. There’s no direct bus, so they wait for an informal shared taxi driven by a man with a car looking to make extra money.
Once Salhout reaches the guarded, pale-stone complex of the Interior Ministry that houses the employment services, she huddles in line at the outdoor check-in station to register using her fingerprint. Then she pushes through the gated entrance to where men and women wait, packed together, for security to inspect their papers, bags and bodies. Once through, Salhout waits in a room for her name to be called. When it is, she meets briefly with a representative of Israel’s Employment Office to prove in person that she’s looking for work so she can receive social security benefits.Read More
By Jack Moore | Newsweek | March 17, 2017
The infamous but anonymous graffiti artist Banksy is looking for wise men and women to trek to the West Bank city of Bethlehem but to a very different resting place—his new hotel.
The ‘Walled Off Hotel,’ a nine-bedroom boutique establishment, is fashioned to host tourists and to give the community in the city—famous as the purported birthplace of Jesus—an economic boost, where Israeli restrictions hamper financial opportunity.Read More
Tikkun is both the preeminent intellectual and theological prophetic voice of progressive Jews and also an interfaith voice doing our activism through the interfaith (and secular-humanist-welcoming) NSP– Network of Spiritual Progressives. So on this Easter we want to highlight the important social justice work being done by Christian progressives while simultaneously urging all Christian progressives and their organizations to JOIN the NSP so that we can coordinate strategies and activism and highlight each other’s activities. Membership also gives you a subscription to Tikkun magazine!
Meanwhile celebrate the fine work of the Christian activists described below as they reclaim the deep love, social justice and nonviolence message of Jesus’ mission.
–Rabbi Michael Lerner editor TikkunRead More
By Cate Malek | Newsweek
The woman who holds the key didn’t want to talk.
She goes by A’abla, and she’s a member of a Muslim family entrusted with the key to the church in Bethlehem, the West Bank city where Christians believe Jesus was born.
During Ottoman rule, major churches like this one were divided into sections for Catholics, Armenians and Greek Orthodox Christians; Muslim families were asked to keep the peace between the different sects.
I had heard the story about A’abla, but assumed it was a myth. But one afternoon, after weeks of asking around, I finally spotted her: a 70-year-old woman carrying a black wrought-iron key. She slipped through a dark wooden door at the back of the church and slowly walked down a curved staircase into the crowd of tourists below. I asked her to share some stories from her decades of living in the church. But she politely declined, then disappeared back up the staircase. She wouldn’t even tell me her last name.Read More
By Maher Chmaytelli | Reuters
TEL ESQOF, Iraq (Reuters) – Hundreds of Iraqi Christians gathered on Sunday in a church damaged by Islamic State north of Mosul, celebrating Easter there for the first time since 2014.
“God willing, the celebration of the resurrection of Christ will also mark the return and rising-up of the Christians in Iraq,” said Kyriacos Isho, 75, who was accompanied by his 12 children and grandchildren at Mar Gewargis (St George) Chaldean Catholic church in Tel Esqof.
Tel Esqof, or Bishop’s Hill in Arabic, did not sustain the same amount of damage as other Christian towns overrun by the militants three years ago in the plain of Nineveh.
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters dislodged the hardline Sunni militants from Tel Esqof just a week after it had fallen, in August 2014. On Sunday, they stood guard around the church.
The militants had smashed the church’s windows, though a new cross has now been put up in place of the one the militants took down.
A fresh breeze on Sunday cooled the white chapel as the choir sang hymns in Chaldean, a language close to the Amaraic spoken by Jesus.Read More
FRANCES D’EMILIO | Associated Press
VATICAN CITY (AP) — On Christianity’s most joyful day, Pope Francis lamented the horrors generated by war and hatred, delivering an Easter Sunday message that also decried the “latest vile” attack on civilians in Syria.
Both in his impromptu homily during Mass in St. Peter’s Square and later in his formal “Urbi et Orbi” Easter message delivered from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis reflected on a litany of suffering in the world, including wars, oppressive regimes, human trafficking, corruption, famine and domestic violence.
He encouraged people to hold fast in their “fearful hearts” to faith, acknowledging that many people wonder where God is amid so much evil and suffering in the world.Read More
Mustafa Akyol believes that Jesus’ teachings can help Islam overcome its extreme elements.
Mustafa Akyol is a brave man, smart and sincere. His ideas deserve to be aired.
In The Islamic Jesus (St. Martin’s Press, N.Y., 2017), he encourages Christians and Jews to understand what he and many scholars believe to be the influence of “Jewish Christian” communities of late antiquity on the Qur’an. He contends that offshoots of the “Jewish Christian” faith, which he traces to the apostle James in the Jerusalem church, survived in small sects.
Some of these sects were condemned by Christians as heretical — notably the Arians, Nestorians and Ebionites. These groups taught that Jesus was without sin. And they taught that he was the Christ, the Messiah. But they did not embrace the Trinity or, in most cases, worship Jesus as a member of the Godhead. In the 17th century some of their teachings reappeared in the West as Unitarianism.
Christians will question Akyol’s estimation of James’ differences with Paul. But Akyol is not evangelizing. Nor does his irenic message to Christians (and Jews) radically break new grounds of scholarship. In that sense, Akyol, a Turkish writer on faith, politics and economics, can be said to popularize some less noticed works of scholars.Read More
Dr. Maria Khoury writes:
The Miracle of the Holy Fire arrived in Taybeh from the Holy City of Jerusalem (via Ramallah) with our cousin Ibrahim and his son Philip approximately at 5:30 pm in the afternoon on this Great and Holy Saturday!
A most glorious ecumenical celebration and scouts parade led to placing the flame on the altar of Saint George Greek Orthodox Church for the Holy Resurrection service.
From the very land of Christ’s Holy Resurrection we wish all of our friends a blessed Holy Pascha!
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!Read More