"Al-Bushra"

Seeking truth and justice

The Palestine National Orchestra

Posted on Dec 5, 2016

the-palestine-national-orchestra-1

 

This Week in Palestine | View PDF

The Palestine National Orchestra (PNO) is Palestine’s first professional orchestra since 1948. Established in 2010 by the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music (ESNCM), it is a festival chamber orchestra that meets once or twice per year for intensive rehearsals and concert tours. Its members are professional musicians of Palestinian origin, as well as internationals with connections to Palestine. In addition to its performances in Palestine, the orchestra’s international tours have included Jordan (2012) and Indonesia (2013).

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Palestine: Cross-Border Celebrations

Posted on Dec 5, 2016

In a world often afflicted by a sense of exclusivism between religions, Palestine knows many instances of Muslim-Christian mutual openness and conviviality surrounding religious celebrations.

A Christmas procession in Beit Sahour. Photo courtesy of the Arab Educational Institute, Bethlehem.

by Fuad Giacaman and Toine van Teeffelen | This Week in Palestine | click for PDF

Jamila, a Muslim woman from Beit Sahour, cherishes special memories about Christmastime in her predominantly Christian town:

“As a six-year-old child, I lived near Shepherds Field in Beit Sahour. I used to meet with my Christian and Muslim friends to pray and sing Christmas hymns before the Christmas midnight Mass. We used to carry oil lamps and walk barefooted at night, heading towards Manger Square to commemorate the shepherds who were guided by the star to the birthplace of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. I also remember how during the Christmas feast our Christian neighbors used to come knocking at the door to offer us Christmas gifts and sweets. From our side, we as Muslims used to give them little gifts and sweets during Islamic feasts, such as katayef at the breaking of the fast in Ramadan (katayef is a sort of sweet dumpling filled with cream or nuts, and commonly eaten during Ramadan nights).”

In cities such as Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and Ramallah, where Christian communities live side by side with the Muslim majority, one can still find many traces of border-crossing traditions.

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Feeling less alone: a Senior Center in Beit Sahour

Posted on Dec 5, 2016

The Senior Center in Beit Sahour cares for dozens of elderly people by involving them in various activities and programs to make them feel a little less alone.

A day care center where to spend time, get together and feel less alone. This center is located in Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem: the elderly can benefit from recreation programs and activities that aim to foster, enrich and develop interpersonal relationships.

HIYAM SAHOURI
Member of Senior Center

“The center has been operating for over 27 years, but I began coming here only three years ago, because all my sons and my daughters are married, and my husband and I were alone… We are very happy: we come here to pray, play cards, chat, laugh and eat together.”

Singing, rejoicing and engaging in the suggested recreational activities: the center offers this and much more, to try to give these ‘differently young people’ a little affection and a lot of company.

MICHAEL HIJAZIN
Member of Senior Center

“I have been coming to this center for six years. I am very happy here. They offer a great service here, and it is better than staying at home alone. I have nowhere else to go.”

ILENE QASSIS
Director of Senior Center

“A senior who has worked all his life, deserves honor and respect. We have over 130 members whom we always try to help by making them feel useful and more capable of giving.”

A place that is the result of an act of love.

The elderly, as recalled by Pope Francis, have “the mission to witness to the values that really matter and which endure forever because they are engraved on the heart of every human being and guaranteed by the Word of God”.

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Palestinian village Susya tests citizen power

Posted on Dec 5, 2016

Susana Bates / Drew Altizer Photography / TheatreWorksU.S. Rep. Anna G. Eshoo was a keynote speaker at TheatreWorks Silicon Valleyâ s Leading Ladies event celebrating passion in arts and innovation, held Feb. 7, 2015, at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts.

by Rabbi Arik Ascherman* | PUBLISHED: December 4, 2016 at 6:11 pm in the San Jose Mercury News, updated December 5, 2016

Nobody knows what will be the policy of the next administration regarding human rights in the Occupied Territories. As a rabbi and co-founder of the Israeli interfaith NGO Haqel (The Field): Arabs and Jews in Defense of Human Rights, I believe in God’s power to work miracles in the human heart. I also know that we need to be prepared for the worst.

While I can provide a long list of instances where the U.S. should have parlayed its friendship with Israel into more vigorous advocacy for human rights, there are instances where administrations from both parties have defended God’s Image in every human being.

One example is Susya, an “unrecognized” Palestinian village in the South Hebron Hills in the Occupied West Bank.

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No Nativity without Al-Majous

Posted on Dec 4, 2016

No Nativity without Al-Majous

St. Apollinaris Nuovo in Ravenna; the three Wise Men stepping forward with their gifts in outstretched arms. Photo courtesy of the author.


by Andreas F. Kuntz* | This Week in Palestine, December 2016 | View PDF

Everybody knows the Wise Men (also called Magi and in Arabic al-majous) who came from afar to Palestine around 2,000 years ago. They belong to Christmas celebrations, to Christmas-crib exhibitions, and are featured in many of the images that show the baby Jesus being worshiped. For Bethlehem, they mean even much more: A main street in the historic center is named after the star they followed. Star Street has been listed by UNESCO World Heritage as a pilgrimage route together with a centuries-old church, the Church of the Nativity.

But there are even more reasons why the Wise Men should have a place in Christian religious celebrations in Bethlehem. The Wise Men represent a special kind of pilgrim, coming from outside the Levant.

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Pope Francis meets U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the Vatican

Posted on Dec 2, 2016

Pope Francis meets U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the Vatican Dec. 2, 2016. Credit: L’Osservatore Romano.

by Elise Harris, Vatican City, Dec 2, 2016 / 07:58 am (CNA/EWTN News)

While he was in town for a global meeting on the crisis in the Mediterranean region, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stopped by the Vatican for a meeting with Pope Francis that likely centered largely on the challenges of migration.

Kerry is currently in Rome for the three-day “Rome Med – Mediterranean Dialogues” meeting, which this year runs Dec. 1-3. The second annual event is a high-level initiative of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, as well as the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI).

The main purpose of the gathering is to draft a “positive agenda” for the Mediterranean region given the current challenges by coming up with new ideas and rethinking traditional approaches at both the local and international levels.

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Sabeel Christmas Message, 2016

Posted on Dec 2, 2016

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Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will towards men and women.
Sabeel Christmas Message, 2016*

 

christmas

Dear Friends,

Christmas is a time of joy. Amid the sorrows and hardships of daily life, we need the Christmas spirit, the good news and gladness of Christmas. The birth of Jesus Christ gives us joy and hope, “to you is born … a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” Christmas never fails to refresh and renew us so that we can cope with the difficulties of daily life.

Yet the Christmas story is also full of trauma and tragedy. The beauty and innocence of the Christ child is juxtaposed with the selfishness and cruelty of Herod and the callousness of the people of power.

As we reflect on the Christmas story this season, what are some of the relevant lessons that we can learn?

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Christian Religious Celebrations in Palestine

Posted on Dec 2, 2016

patriarch-michel-sabbahby  Patriarch Michel Sabbah* | This Week in Palestine, December 2016 | View PDF

Every day is a feast that we celebrate with gratitude. Palestinian Christians end the liturgical year with two feasts, honoring All Saints Day on November 1 and commemorating the dead on All Souls Day on November 2.

The main feasts for the Virgin Mary include the Annunciation on March 25, which recalls the appearance of Angel Gabriel to Mary in Nazareth as he announced that she would be the mother of the Incarnate Word of God, Jesus Christ (Lk 1:26–39; Jn 1:1–5, 14). This day is the feast of the city of Nazareth.

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Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews meets with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel

Posted on Dec 2, 2016

Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews meets with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel

(Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem) STATEMENT – The Bilateral Commission Meeting of the Delegations of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews took place in Rome, in November 28-30, 2016 in presence of Cardinal Turkson, Archbishop Pizzaballa, Bishop Marcuzzo, and several rabbis, among them the rabbis Rasson Arussi and David Rosen. Below is the full text of the declaration issued at the end of the meeting. The main theme : promoting peace in the face of violence in the name of religion.

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Jewish-Christian relations highlighted in latest Current Dialogue

Posted on Dec 2, 2016

World Council of Churches

29 November 2016

At the close of the 50th year since promulgation of Vatican II’s declaration on Christian relations with other religions, relations between Christians and Jews, and between Christians and Muslims, are freshly explored in the just-released issue of Current Dialogue.

The publication, now in its 58th issue, is compiled and edited by the World Council of Churches (WCC) programme on Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation.

The issue features a dozen Christian and Jewish theologians reflecting on the state of Jewish-Christian relations today and whether there exists a “special relationship” between the two religious traditions. In a related feature, Lawrence H. Schiffman writes on “what Jewish-Christian relations in antiquity can teach us today.”

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Follow-up on meetings about getting Palestinian villages on maps

Posted on Dec 1, 2016

Tamsin of Rebuilding Alliance writes about bringing a delegation from Palestine and Israel to meet Congressional staff in person. Their goal is to get Palestinian villages on maps.

Our delegation, including a distinguished artist from the Palestinian village of Um al Kheir as well as two mapping experts from the Israeli human rights group Bimkom, was well-received at every office we visited. Here are the House and Senate offices we met with on Nov. 14 and 15:

Rep. Womack (R-AR), Sen. Casey (D-PA), Rep. Bishop (R-MI), Rep. Bonamici (D-OR), Sen. Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Markey (D-MA), Rep. Ellison (D-MN), Sen. Boozman (R-AR), Sen. Murray (D-WA), Sen. Warren (D-MA), Rep. Eshoo (D-CA).

We visited the Monday after the election, and nearly everyone was wondering what the future will hold. We got a variety of responses from staffers, many of whom were unsure how the issue of Palestinian rights will be dealt with when the new administration comes in. Many of them acknowledged that while Congress cannot demand anything of private companies, it is important for the mapping companies to show what exists in reality. Several offices agreed that it seemed strange that Israeli settlements are mapped, while Palestinian villages have been left off, and promised to do what they can to contact Google and Apple.

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Senator George J. Mitchell: A Guide to Brokering Peace

Posted on Dec 1, 2016

The Editors, America Magazine, the National Catholic Review, Nov. 30, 2016

In this week’s podcast, Senator George J. Mitchell speaks to Tim Reidy and Kevin Clarke about his experience negotiating peace deals in the Middle East and Northern Ireland. His latest book, A Path to Peace, written with Alon Sachar, lays out possible avenues for peace in the Middle East going forward. George J. Mitchell was the primary architect of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement for peace in Northern Ireland and served as U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace.

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Is Europe doing enough to protect persecuted Christians?

Posted on Dec 1, 2016

Credit: UnSplash

Vienna, Austria, Dec 1, 2016 / 12:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- European leaders gathered this week at a conference in Vienna to discuss Christian persecution and its resounding effect on Europe, particularly emphasizing the need to seriously address religious discrimination and genocide around the world.

“The persecution faced by Christians around the world must be recognized and treated by the international community with the seriousness it deserves,” Ellen Fantini, executive director of the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians, stated Nov. 29.

“The pressure faced by Christians in Europe is much more subtle – what Pope Francis has called ‘polite persecution’.”

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Churches’ diaconal action in the Middle East analyzed

Posted on Dec 1, 2016

World Council of Churches

© Bethany M. Waggoner

01 December 2016 – The story shared by Fr Yukoub Babawe of the Oum-El-Nour Relief Committee of the Syrian Orthodox Church in Iraq’s city of Erbil moved and challenged participants at a recent meeting in Beirut.

Each day churches in Erbil have offered shelter, food and basic support to more than 20,000 people from the Nineveh plain and Mosul during an occupation by terrorist fighters from the group calling itself Islamic State.

Yukoub outlined Oum-El-Nour’s initiatives and revealed the suffering of the internally displaced, whilst elucidating on massive efforts and solidarity from the local community and the church in their diaconal work.

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World Council of Churches: Solidarity with churches in the Middle East

Posted on Dec 1, 2016

World Council of Churches

© Paul Jeffrey/ACT 

The situation of the Middle East calls for collective efforts by ecumenical partners to achieve peace and justice at local, national, regional and international levels. Major problems in the region include armed occupation of territory, denial of human rights and national aspirations, failures to implement the rule of law at the national and international levels, various forms of extremism and intolerance, and nuclear proliferation in Israel and Iran. Interlinked with these is the question of control of energy resources.

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New Catholic Relief Services’ chairman has strong Middle East focus

Posted on Nov 29, 2016

Bishop Gregory J. Mansour will be the next chairman of Catholic Relief Services. “I have seen firsthand the suffering of Christians and others violently forced from their homes in the Middle East,” he said. “But it is heartening to see the compassionate work that CRS continues to do in the midst of chaos.”

(Credit: CNS/courtesy Jeffrey Bruno, EWTN.)

Catholic News Agency, November 28, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Bishop Gregory John Mansour, a Maronite bishop with experience in Middle East issues, will be the next chairman of Catholic Relief Services, the foreign aid arm of the U.S. bishops.

“It is my honor and privilege to be appointed as chairman of the CRS board of directors,” Mansour said on November 22. “As a member of the CRS board, I’ve witnessed CRS’s tremendous work among the most vulnerable.

“I have seen firsthand the suffering of Christians and others violently forced from their homes in the Middle East. Witnessing their plight was difficult, but it is heartening to see the compassionate work that CRS continues to do in the midst of chaos.”

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Religious freedom report highlights threat of ‘Islamic hyper-extremism’

Posted on Nov 29, 2016

A new report from the papal charity Aid to the Church in Need finds a mounting spiral of violence and persecution for religious reasons around the world, including what it describes as the lethal impact of the rise of “Islamist hyper-extremism.”

Young Christians in the Middle East march in protest against persecution by ISIS. (Credit: AP.)

Inés San Martín, Vatican Correspondent, Crux, November 28, 2016

ROME- “Why don’t you talk about us? Because we’re not European?”

This was the challenging question posed by Sister Guadalupe Rodrigo, an Argentine-born missionary in the Middle East to hundreds gathered last April in the Roosevelt Hotel in New York for the #WeAreN2016 congress, dedicated to the theme of anti-Christian persecution.

“Do you remember the attacks in Paris? The reaction of the people was spectacular, the media, the social networks…It happened on a Friday. Imagine there was another attack on Saturday. And then one on Sunday,” she said. “Imagine what the reaction would have been.”

“This happens every day in Syria,” she deadpanned.

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Seven-million-piece Mosaic Uncovered in Jericho after 80 Years

Posted on Nov 29, 2016

Hisham’s Palace is one more part of this history, making Jericho a crossroads of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism in the West Bank.

The huge mosaic lies in the bath house at Hisham's Palace, five kilometers north of the West Bank city of Jericho.

by Oren Liebermann, CNN, November 29, 2016

Jericho, West Bank (CNN)The beauty of the mosaic is only overshadowed by its size.

Seven million mosaic stones, each less than one square centimeter, cover the floor of the main hall of Hisham’s Palace in Jericho, West Bank.

For years, this work of art remained hidden, but last month it was briefly uncovered ahead of being officially opened to the public. The mosaic was first discovered in 1935 by Palestinian archaeologist Dimitri Baramki and the British archaeologist Robert Hamilton — but had been buried under sand to protect it from erosion.

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“Building Bridges” : Scouting for a better relationship between communities

Posted on Nov 29, 2016

“Building Bridges” : scouting for a better relationship between the communities

AMMAN – The International Catholic Conference of Scouting for the Europe Mediterranean Region was held in Amman from the 24th till the 27th of November at the center Our Lady of Peace, under the theme “Building Bridges”. Fr. Imad Twal, General Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, who conducted the first session of the meeting, explained how peace is not only a concept but also an aspect of culture and how the scouts can make a difference in the region for a better coexistence. Below the full text of his intervention.

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Christian heritage site found ransacked after monastery retaken from ISIS

Posted on Nov 29, 2016

ISIS issued an ultimatum to Christians: pay a tax, convert to Islam, or die by the sword.

The Mar Behnam Christian monastery near Mosul, Iraq. . (photo credit:REUTERS)

By REUTERS \ November 22, 2016

KHIDIR ILYAS, Iraq – The history pages of Iraq’s Christian community lie in charred fragments on the floor of a fourth-century monastery near Mosul which Islamic State militants ransacked during a two-year occupation that ended over the weekend.

The jihadists at the Mar Behnam monastery burned a collection of books about Christian theology, scraped off inscriptions written in Syriac – the language used by Jesus [sic] – and demolished sculptures of the Virgin Mary and the monastery’s patron saint.

They removed the site’s crosses and tried to erase any mention of Behnam, the son of an Assyrian king who, according to popular legend, built the monastery as penance for killing both his children after they converted to Christianity.

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Underground Church movement grows in Iran despite regime’s efforts

Posted on Nov 29, 2016

Christians in Iran are being driven to worship in secret house churches, and even there, they may face arrest. (Reuters)

By Perry Chiaramonte | November 28, 2016 | Fox News

Despite the Iranian regime’s best efforts to stop the spread of Christianity, a large underground church movement is growing.

Hundreds of Iranian citizens have been converting to Christianity, and many are being baptized in large ceremonies in underground churches held in private homes across the country. This month, Christian ministry ELAM estimated that more than 200 Iranian and Afghans were secretly baptized in a service just across the Iranian border.

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In Syrian monastery, priest who escaped ISIS sees signs of hope

Posted on Nov 29, 2016

Father Jacques Mourad, who escaped from Islamic State. Credit: Terre Sainte Mag.

Father Jacques Mourad,SJ, who escaped from Islamic State. Credit: Terre Sainte Mag.

By Andrea Gagliarducci

Homs, Syria, Nov 27, 2016 / 06:48 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The fourth-century saint Mar Elian’s relics survived the Islamic State’s destruction of the Syrian monastery that bears his name, and a priest who escaped captivity says these are among the signs of hope for Syria.

“In Mar Elian, we have always hoped to welcome everyone. Mar Elian was really a sign of hope for the Syrian people,” Jesuit Fr. Jacques Mourad told CNA. “Everything changed when I was taken hostage. But we can still build something. We must, however, await the end of this war.”

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Religious Leaders’ Summit for Peace in the Middle East: “Religion can no longer be an obstacle”

Posted on Nov 28, 2016

Photo © Communication Office of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

by Myriam Ambroselli | Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem

ALICANTE – An interreligious meeting was held on November 14-16, 2016 in Spain, which brought together Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religious leaders. At the heart of the debate was the responsibility of religious leaders in the construction of peace in the Middle East. They reiterated their appeal against violence and incitement to hatred between religions.

“Relentlessly seek peace in the Holy Land”: at a time of extreme religious and political tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, a group of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim community leaders gathered in Spain for a three-day meeting, at the conclusion of which a joint denunciation against violence and incitement was issued.

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What Reformation Means in Palestine

Posted on Nov 28, 2016

World Council of ChurchesBishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land speaks about the significance of the Protestant Reformation for Christians in Palestine today. Freedom, education, gender justice, transformation and orientation towards the neighbour are topics that spring to his mind.

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Inauguration and Blessing of Saint Rachel Center in Jerusalem

Posted on Nov 28, 2016

Inauguration and Blessing of Saint Rachel Center in Jerusalem

Vivien Laguette | Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem

JERUSALEM – The Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, blessed St. Rachel Center for Children on Thursday, November 10, 2016, in the presence of many children.

The new St. Rachel Center, which opened on September 1, 2016 2016, welcomes children of migrants, from the early months until the age of 12, and supports their healthy development. Its ultimate goal is to enable children to integrate into the Israeli society: learning the rhythm of life and teaching in Hebrew.

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France is a country struggling between two strands….

Posted on Nov 28, 2016

mazin qumsiyeh w175Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh writes from France:

France is so beautiful. It is a country of laws. I met also so many people willing to help and are helping fellow human beings and/or working to protect the environment. Despite some amnesia of its colonial history and remaining strains of racism, France functions (at least in laws) with Liberté, égalité, fraternité. In practice, it is a society struggling between two strands: one based on humanity and justice and one based on fear, racism, and injustice.

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Religious leaders of the Holy Land in Auschwitz

Posted on Nov 28, 2016

Photo : Pawel Sawicki – auschwitz.org

Vivien Laguette | Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem

AUSCHWITZ – Thirty senior religious leaders of the Holy Land, among them Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, visited the Auschwitz death camp during a historic visit to condemn extremism and hatred.

During a trip to Poland, thirty members of the Council of Religious Community Leaders in Israel visited the former death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. Among them were Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III, the Greek-Catholic Archbishop, Georges Bacouni, the Anglican Archbishop Suheil Dawani, Sheikh Mowafaq, Druze religious leader, Rabbis Dimony Icchak Elefant and David Rosen and two Sunni imams from Galilee.

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PayPal for Palestinians in Palestine

Posted on Nov 28, 2016

paypal-for-palestinians-1

by Abed Almonem Fatafta |  This Week in Palestine, Issue: 223, Nov 2016

In late August and early September, Palestinian entrepreneurs and our supporters around the globe were involved in an effort to raise awareness about PayPal’s inadvertent complicity with discrimination against Palestinians. While PayPal has still not committed to making the necessary changes, we believe our efforts have been noticed. We hope to continue to nudge it in the right direction so that PayPal will make the right decision to serve all people who live in the West Bank and Gaza.

At this time, PayPal does not serve Palestinians. It does, however, serve the Israeli settlers living among us. This situation, where PayPal is in Palestine but only serves the privileged Israeli settler population, results in outright discrimination that hinders opportunities for Palestine’s tech sector.

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Linking Faith and Fair Trade in Palestine

Posted on Nov 28, 2016

canaan

Welcome to Canaan Fair Trade‘s interfaith program for faith communities in the United States who sell our Palestinian fair trade olive oil, foods, and olive oil soap as fundraisers.

Fundraising discount:  Individuals or groups who register to become Interfaith Partners receive a 20% discount on their purchases to be used for their own fundraising and outreach activities.  Fundraising need not be an extra program if a group is already doing bazaars, fairs or fair trade sales to their faith community.  A reasonable amount charged over and above the purchase cost of Canaan’s products provides more funds for projects that you now support or that you want to begin, such as feeding hungry people, helping a hospital in Gaza, sending micro loans to women in India or in Palestine, alternative travel, or building schools in Afghanistan, for example.

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Rebuilding Alliance: Tangible reasons for hope

Posted on Nov 27, 2016

Donna Baranski-Walker, Executive Director of Rebuilding Alliance, writes:

There are tangible reasons for hope and good reasons for expanding our work to keep Palestinian villages standing. I ask you to set your alarm to donate to our U.S. Movement to Save Palestinian Villages (and/or to our Brighten the Future for Gaza’s Children to send a 4th shipment of solar lights).

This bonus day starts at 9:01pm on Monday night when GlobalGiving is giving away half a million dollars in matching grants! This is the biggest match ever and GG is matching 50% on each dollar donated up to $1000. Please make a donation big or small to help our U.S. Movement to Save Palestinian Villages to hold Here’s My Village community mapathons and grow.


Here are tangible reasons for hope:

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