Seeking truth and justice

2017 Int’l Year to End Israeli Occupation of Palestine?

Posted on Aug 27, 2016 in Human rights, Israel, Justice, NGO, Palestine, Peace, World

Photo: Che Guevara visiting Gaza Strip during 1959. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

By J Nastranis

NEW YORK (IDN) – The UN General Assembly is coming under strong pressure to declare 2017 as the International Year to End Israeli Occupation of Palestine, particularly in the aftermath of the July 2016 report by the Middle East Quartet – comprising the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations.

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Israel may finally be doing something to stop its most racist soccer fans

Posted on Aug 26, 2016 in Human rights, Israel, Justice, Palestine

For more than a decade, La Familia has been a blight on Israeli soccer, a violently racist scourge that chants “death to Arabs” throughout matches and has pressured Beitar Jerusalem management — successfully, at least up to now — not to sign any Israeli-Arab players. But the arrests this summer could mean that the group’s power and infamy are finally waning.

Members of the right-wing Beitar Jerusalem supporters’ group La Familia have been proudly racist for years. (Abir Sultan/EPA)

by By Raphael Gellar, freelance journalist based in Tel Aviv who specializes in the connection between soccer and politics, 19 August 2016

TEL AVIV — The Israeli national soccer league begins its new season on Saturday. But one of the most significant developments of the upcoming year may have happened last month.

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Why Does Israel’s Football Team Play In Europe?

Posted on Aug 26, 2016 in Human rights, Israel, Justice, Palestine, World

As Sepp Blatter tries to resolve Israel’s status in FIFA, we look at the country’s turbulent history in international football.

Israel’s side line up during the country’s only World Cup, in 1970

By Richard Williams, Sky News Online, 4 July 2016

For those unacquainted with the history of the Middle East, the idea of a country which borders Jordan and Egypt playing in European football competition may appear an odd one.

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Uri Avnery: Olympic Jews?

Posted on Aug 26, 2016 in Human rights, Israel, Jews, Palestine, World

Uri Avnery

Uri Avnery

by Uri Avnery, Gush Shalom

THE SCENE at Ben-Gurion airport this week was rather astonishing.

More then a thousand young male fans came to welcome the two Israeli Judo fighters – one female, one male – who had won a bronze medal each at the Olympic games in Rio.

It was a very raucous welcome. The crowd went wild, shouted, pushed, raised fists.

Yet judo is not a very popular sport in Israel. Israeli sports enthusiasts pack the soccer stadiums, as well as the basketball courts. But in these two sports, Israel is far from winning any medals.

So Israeli crowds suddenly became judo fans (some called it “Jewdo”). People who did not go wild with enthusiasm were considered traitors. We did not hear anything about the judo champions who got the gold or silver medals. Were there any?

WE CAN only imagine what would have happened if the Israeli Olympic contingent had included Arab athletes. Arabs? In our contingent?

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Roots of religion and violence in the Middle East are explored in Ecumenical Review

Posted on Aug 25, 2016 in Christians, Ecumenism, Human rights, Israel, Jews, Justice, Middle East, NGO, Palestine, Peace

151126 World Council of Churches logo18 August 2016

The latest edition of Ecumenical Review, the quarterly journal of the World Council of Churches (WCC), features a discussion of the roots of religion and violence in the Middle East.

Five presentations drawn from three WCC-sponsored conferences of recent years explore aspects of the religious concepts of “promised land,” the “theology of land” and how to go about “reading the Hebrew Bible in solidarity with the Palestinian people.”

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Christian Peacemaker Team: Partner with us to transform violence and oppression

Posted on Aug 24, 2016 in Christians, Israel, Justice, NGO, Palestine, Peace, World

Christian Peacemaker Teams Palestine is a faith-based organization that supports Palestinian-led, non-violent, grassroots resistance to the Israeli occupation and the unjust structures that uphold it. By collaborating with local Palestinian and Israeli peacemakers and educating people in our home communities we strive to help create a space for justice and peace.

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Elijah Interfaith Institute in Jerusalem offers a study on leadership in world religions

Posted on Aug 23, 2016 in Christians, Interreligious dialogue, Israel, Jews, Muslims, Vatican

Elijah Interfaith institute in Jerusalem offers a study on leadership in world religions

JERUSALEM – The 2016 edition of the summer school of the Elijah Interfaith institute brought together over 25 students from 10 countries, Jews and Christians, to study the theme of leadership in world religions. On August 4th, Bishop William Shomali, Patriarchal Vicar in Jerusalem, offered a lecture on Christian leadership in general and in particular the leadership of Pope Francis.

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Ben Ehrenreich’s New Palestine Book Explores Life on “Planet Hebron”

Posted on Aug 22, 2016 in Human rights, Israel, Justice, Palestine

You need a good reason to write or read a book on Palestine these days. Not only is the field over-tilled, it has become boring. We all know the facts or imagine we do, however differently we interpret them. To justify a new book, you have to provide new facts or a new way of looking at old ones. Ehrenreich does both. Many of his facts are new to us, his intended Western readership, if not to the Palestinians and Israelis who live them.

by Charles Glass*

When I moved to Lebanon in 1972, a joke was doing the rounds about an Englishman, a Frenchman, and an Arab tasked to write books about elephants. The Englishman wrote How to Hunt Elephants, and the Frenchman came up with Recipes for Cooking Elephants à la Française. The Arab, meanwhile, produced 12 volumes titled The Elephant and the Palestine Problem. Since then, publishers have poured out thousands of tomes on Palestine and Israel, some bad, some good. Ben Ehrenreich’s The Way to Spring: Life and Death in Palestine is the latest, and it is excellent.

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Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns: Water can’t wait!

Posted on Aug 21, 2016 in Christians, Human rights, Israel, Justice, NGO, Palestine

151210 Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Tell Congress to support equal water rights for Palestinians and Israelis

Organizations in the Faith Forum on Middle East Policy send out action alerts monthly, focusing on different issues so that members of Congress hear consistently that their constituents support a just and lasting resolution to the Palestinian and Israeli conflict.

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Water in the Village, or Is that No Water in the Village?

Posted on Aug 21, 2016 in Christians, Holy Land, Human rights, Israel, Narrative, NGO, Palestine

Taybeh sits on one of the highest hills overlooking the Dead Sea. It has 30,000 olive trees that need water. (Photo courtesy of the Taybeh Group Photo Archives)

By Maria Khoury

It is almost a miracle when you manage to make beer without a guarantee that you will have running water most days of the week. Since Amnesty International’s 2009 report on water shortage in Palestine, you may be aware of this issue and its effect on local farming. But the issue has far-reaching consequences that affect all kinds of sectors in our local economy. Let me give you an example: a premium high-quality boutique beer consists of 90 percent water that, most of the time, is scarce, especially along the higher elevations on the arid edge of the Jordan Valley.

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Thirst and narrative

Posted on Aug 21, 2016 in Christians, Human rights, Justice, NGO, Palestine, Peace

The Ministry for Strategic Affairs has established an ten-member inter-ministerial team, charged with formulating an alternative narrative [that Israel is not a pariah state], and Israel will make every effort to get it accepted by the world. The ultimate goal is to instill this alternate narrative globally during the next ten years, until 2025. “For me, victory means a narrative change in the world’s perception of Israel. That the world will no longer equate Israel with Apartheid” she noted.

by Adam Keller, Co-founder of Gush Shalom Israeli peace movement

“Here at Fasayil, in the Jordan Valley, we get water twice a week,” explained our host, to the group of activists from Tel Aviv. “Twice a week the water is flowing through this little water pipe which you see here on the ground, a pipe with a 20 mm diameter. When the large container is full we distribute the water among all the families, it has to last for three days. And by the way, we are more fortunate compared to the Palestinian communities more north. To them, Israel does not give any water at all, and often the soldiers even confiscate the water which they buy for themselves. That is because the area where they live had been declared as a firing range, and the army says they are living there illegally. So far, they did not declare Fasayil a firing range. “

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Jesuit Document on the Middle East

Posted on Aug 20, 2016 in Christians, Holy Land, Human rights, Interreligious dialogue, Islamic State, Israel, Jews, Jordan, Justice, Middle East, Muslims, NGO, Palestine, Peace, Syria, World

jesuit logoIn a new document, Jesuits involved in the Middle East call on the international community to take on a “sense of responsibility” for conflicts in the region and to abandon “the Machiavellian behaviors, passive attitudes and ideological battles” that for too long have stood in the way of lasting peace. The text, “Middle East: Searching for the Word,” which was produced at the request of the superior general of the Society of Jesus, Adolfo Nicolás, S.J., highlights the plight of Christians, who are often persecuted because of their perceived identification with the West and existing regimes or because their faith. The authors note that while the Arab Spring of 2011 failed to translate into successful political and economic programs, Christians and all Arabs should see signs of hope in the widespread desire for a system of government “based on the values of modernity, democracy, human rights, social justice, and cultural openness.” In countries that lack democratic traditions, they say, there must be “education for citizenship,” which “requires genuine familiarity with human rights” and “respects cultural and religious plurality.”  The text follows:

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Celtic Fans Fly Palestinian Flags Against Israeli Team as European Tie Turns Political

Posted on Aug 19, 2016 in Christians, Human rights, Israel, Justice, Palestine, World

Celtic is a football club with Irish Roman Catholic roots and the majority of the fans are Catholic. Irish Catholics are known for being notably pro-Palestinian in their leaning on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with many viewing the Palestinian cause as similar to that of the Irish under British occupation in Northern Ireland. Israel maintains a military occupation over Palestinians in the West Bank and a blockade on the Gaza Strip.

The Celtic fans held aloft flags emblazoned with the Palestinian colors and skulls wrapped in the traditional Arab keffiyeh head dress. Reuters/Russell Cheyne

By , Newsweek,

The fans of Scottish football team Celtic defied Europe’s footballing body and police to make a political protest against their team’s Israeli opponents, Hapoel Beer Sheva FC, on Wednesday night, with hundreds flying the Palestinian flag.

Sections of Celtic Park in Glasgow became a sea of green , red, black and white as the Scots refused to adhere to a UEFA ban on the protest against Israeli policies in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

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Israel demolishing more Palestinian buildings, says UN

Posted on Aug 19, 2016 in Human rights, Israel, Justice, NGO, Palestine, World

It was the third time this year that Israel has torn down French-financed structures, including the dismantling of a school in February.

A Palestinian boy walks past a pile of rubble after Israeli authorities demolished a building in the village of Sebastia, near Nablus, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on August 9, 2016. Jaafar Ashtiyeh / AFP

(Agence France-Presse) RAMALLAH, August 12, 2016 – Israel has razed more Palestinian homes and other structures so far this year than in all of 2015, the United Nations said on Friday.

Israeli authorities in the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem have demolished 726 structures this year, displacing 1,020 Palestinians, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) said.

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World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel #DismantlingBarriers

Posted on Aug 18, 2016 in Christians, Ecumenism, Human rights, Israel, Justice, NGO, Palestine, Peace, World


World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel
18 – 24 September 2016
“God has broken down the dividing walls”
An initiative of the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) of the World Council of Churches

The Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) of the World Council of Churches invites member churches, faith-based communities, and civil society organizations around the world to join together in 2016 for a week of advocacy and action in support of an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine and a just peace for all in Palestine and Israel. Congregations and individuals around the globe who share the hope of justice shall unite during the week to take peaceful actions, together, to create a common international public witness.

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Animal Health and Wealth in Palestine

Posted on Aug 17, 2016 in Holy Land, Human rights, Israel, Middle East, Palestine

The Separation Wall along the western border of the West Bank has reduced the areas available to herders for grazing their flocks.

by Iyad Adra, Mohamad Issa, and Bassam Abu Aziz

Archaeological evidence shows that the Middle East, particularly the Levant region and the Jordan Valley, was the starting point for animal domestication more than eight thousand years ago. Since then, the people living in this area have relied on animals to support their livelihoods, and even now, Palestinian farmers raise and breed livestock as a source of food and income. Traditionally, the raising of small ruminants (sheep and goats) has been the largest segment of the agricultural sector. However, farming and herding sheep and goats is still managed mainly in traditional ways and with methods that have been inherited within families.

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Israeli army donkey sales stir Palestinian outrage

Posted on Aug 17, 2016 in Human rights, Israel, Justice, NGO, Palestine

Al-Maleh (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) – “Forty donkeys for sale,” reads a notice in Palestinian newspapers. Nothing out of the ordinary about that, except for the fact that the advertiser is the Israeli army.

Palestinians say the army is trying to sell back the very animals it seized from them in the occupied West Bank’s Jordan Valley.

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Animal Biodiversity in Palestine

Posted on Aug 17, 2016 in Holy Land, NGO, Palestine, World


by Mazin Qumsiyeh

At the crossroads of three continents, Palestine is located in the western part of the Fertile Crescent that connects Africa with Eurasia. This location and the associated geologic activities over the past 100 million years have ensured a unique and rich fauna, flora, and human history. The diverse habitats include five ecozones that range from the Central Highlands to the Semi-Coastal Region, Eastern Slopes, the Jordan Rift Valley, and the Coastal regions, and cover four bio-geographical regions (Mediterranean, Irano-Turanian, Saharo-Arabian, and Sudanese/Ethiopian). It is thus not surprising that this small country is biologically more diverse than some countries ten times its size.

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Want to help persecuted Christians? A few easy steps

Posted on Aug 16, 2016 in Christians, Human rights, Iraq, Islamic State, Justice, Lebanon, Middle East, Muslims, Syria, World

Kevin J. Jones

By Kevin J. Jones, Catholic News Agency

Toronto, Canada, Aug 4, 2016 / 01:43 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Middle East Christians need help to survive, and leaders in the relief effort have outlined what the average Catholic can do.

“They can speak out. They should talk with their parish. And they should pray,” Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, told CNA Aug. 3.

Echoing his call to action was Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil in northern Iraq.

“Pray for them. Tell their story. Raise awareness about persecution. Give aid,” he said. The archbishop encouraged Americans and Canadians to try to put pressure on their politicians “to really adjust the whole political vision of America, Canada and the Middle East.”

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In Beirut, Protestants and non-Protestants highlight Reformation

Posted on Aug 15, 2016 in Christians, Ecumenism, Egypt, Lebanon, Middle East, Muslims, World

151126 World Council of Churches logoBy Katja Buck*

What does the impending 500th anniversary mean outside its European birthplace?

In the Middle East, Reformation stands for a strong legacy yet also the uncertain future of a tiny and splintered minority. The churches of the Reformation remain important within the constellation of Christian groups, say non-evangelical Christians, who call upon them to lead in ecumenical outreach to newer charismatic and Pentecostal groups.

Protestantism in the Middle East has a short history. In the mid-19th century, Protestant missionaries came from North America and Europe, bringing with them the idea of the Reformation as standing for freedom of conscience and a Bible-centred life. They founded schools and universities, built hospitals and started widespread social work. Although mixed with elements of Western cultural imperialism, their work began a transformation of society that is still evident today.

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JVP Response to the Movement for Black Lives Policy Platform

Posted on Aug 14, 2016 in Human rights, Israel, Jews, Justice, Palestine, Peace, World

Logo04 August 2016 Organizing/Press Release

Jewish Voice for Peace is following the leadership of Jews of Color in partnership with JVP as to how we can best contribute to realizing the demands and vision for Black lives laid out in the inspiring, bold Movement for Black Lives platform. Because the leadership team of JVP is currently all white Ashkenazi Jews, we are slowing down to ensure our members who are Jews of Color can lead the way, particularly in matters of racial justice. This is part of our ongoing project to dismantle white supremacy inside of JVP.

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“Genocide,” Torah, & “Black Lives Matter”: Anguish & Debate in the Jewish Community

Posted on Aug 14, 2016 in Human rights, Israel, Jews, Justice, Palestine, Peace, World

The Shalom Center logo


by Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Part 1: “Genocide,” Black Lives Matter, & the Jewish Community

[The week of August 4] a nation-wide network of “Black Lives Matter” activists, newly organized as “Movenent for Black Lives” (M4BL), published a remarkable platform for social change toward racial justice in America. Every American should read it —  see https://policy.m4bl.org/platform/

The platform has thousands of words that address both comprehensively and in great detail what it would take to fully end the legacy of slavery and the constant resurgence of racism in the US. It also addresses forms of oppression that echo racism in non-“racial” arenas, such as the oppression of sexual and gender minorities and the use of overwhelming US military power against various peoples around the world. Among these thousands of words is this one paragraph.

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FOSNA Endorses Vision for Black Lives

Posted on Aug 14, 2016 in Christians, Ecumenism, Human rights, Interreligious dialogue, Israel, Muslims, Palestine, Peace, World

A Christian Voice for Palestine

Friends of Sabeel North America wholeheartedly endorses the
Movement for Black Lives platform and commits to challenging the systems of
supremacy foundational to the occupation of Palestine and oppression of Black
people in the United States.

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9th Christian Denomination to Take Economic Action for Justice in Palestine

Posted on Aug 13, 2016 in Christians, Ecumenism, Holy Land, Human rights, Israel, Justice, NGO, Palestine, Peace

A sea of green as Lutherans vote in favor of an investment screen

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) voted overwhelmingly (by an estimated 90%) to create an investment screen that would identify and remove the Church’s investments in corporations profiting from Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights, and other human rights abuses around the world. The new screen has a broad reach, ensuring that the Church would avoid investments in corporations currently complicit in human rights violations as part of the Israeli occupation, as well as any future corporations that become complicit.

Lutherans vote overwhelmingly to end unconditional U.S. aid to Israel.

Just yesterday, the ELCA voted by a margin of 82% — 751 to 162 — calling for an end to unconditional U.S. aid to Israel.

ELCA marks the ninth denomination to engage in economic acts of conscience to support justice for Palestinians, following the Quakers, Mennonite Central Committee, United Methodists, Presbyterians, United Church of Christ, Unitarian Universalists, Catholic Conference of Major Superiors of Men, and the Alliance of Baptists — many of those in 2016 alone!

Pastor Khaled Khalila testifies about living as a Palestinian under Israeli occupation

ELCA voting member Darla Thiele, Dakota name Shining Star Woman, had this to say before the vote:

As a Native woman, the situation in Palestine reminds me of what my people have gone through here in America. I have seen my people lose our land, our lives, our culture — our songs, dances, spiritual ways. Like the Palestinians, we have no justice. Treaties have been broken… We talk about loving our neighbor. We talk about justice. But where is the justice?… Now is the time for the church to stop profiting from these injustices. Now is the time to bring healing, to bring peace, to bring justice.

Director of Organizing & Advocacy with voting Palestinian members of Isaiah 58.

The US Campaign was proud to work alongside Isaiah 58 and allies from member groups Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA), American Friends Service Committee, Friends of Sabeel – North America, New Orleans Palestinian Solidarity Committee, and Jewish Voice for Peace on the ground in support of this crucial effort.

Anna Baltzer

Anna Baltzer signature
Anna Baltzer
Director of Organizing & Advocacy
End the Occupation

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A Palestinian Christian reflects on terrorism

Posted on Aug 13, 2016 in Christians, Holy Land, Jews, Middle East, Muslims, Narrative, Palestine, World

Samia Khoury remembers terrorism in the Holy Land that occurred 70 years ago.

by Samia Khoury

On the 27th of July, I had to take my car to be serviced at the Chevrolet garage in Talpiot on West Jerusalem. On my way back, my cousin drove me through areas that were so familiar to me in West Jerusalem when we were living there before 1948.

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Why is ‘Palestine’ missing from Google’s Middle East map?

Posted on Aug 13, 2016 in Israel, Palestine, World

The word “Palestine” does not appear on Google’s map of the area.

By Teresa Welsh, twelsh@mcclatchy.com

The internet is accusing Google of “erasing” or “deleting” Palestine off its maps, removing reference to the disputed territory which Israel claims as its own.

As with all things Middle East, passions run high on both sides of the issue: Those who say the land belongs to Israel as a Jewish state, and those who say the land is rightfully Palestinian and is being occupied by Israelis.

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2016: Humanitarian Revolution

Posted on Aug 12, 2016 in Christians, NGO, Syria, World

The refugee crisis demands better aid, not just more aid.

GETTING TO CLASS. Afghan children arrive at a school near a refugee camp near Kabul.

by David Miliband in America Magazine, the National Catholic Review

Every day in my work at the International Rescue Committee, I hear stories and see evidence of how vulnerable people in desperate straits around the world are not getting the help they need. The scale and complexity of current humanitarian needs are increasingly out of step with the resources, policies and practices available to meet them.

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Jewish Voice for Peace: Call to action on Susiya

Posted on Aug 12, 2016 in Human rights, Israel, Jews, Justice, NGO, Palestine, Peace, World

160318 JVP horizontallogo

Ashley Bohrer Jewish Voice for Peace & the Center for Jewish Nonviolence

August 9, 2016 – This morning I woke up to the terrible news that 27 people were made homeless for the second time when Israeli bulldozers demolished five structures in the South Hebron Hills village of Umm al Kheir. When I was there last month, a group of international Jewish activists and I helped rebuild a house demolished there in April. Now we need you to raise your voice to help prevent even more demolitions.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the only village facing immediate demolition now. You may have heard about the village of Susiya previously: the village has been facing nearly constant demolitions in recent years, as well as settler harassment, crop destruction, and direct violence from Israeli soldiers.

You can make a difference , but you must act now.

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2016: United States announces additional US$ 51.6 million to support Palestine refugees in the West Bank and Gaza

Posted on Aug 12, 2016 in Human rights, Jordan, Lebanon, NGO, Palestine, Syria, World

The United States announced today a new contribution of nearly US$ 52 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in response to the Agency’s 2016 Emergency Appeal for the occupied Palestinian territory. The US Consul-General, Donald Blome, and UNRWA Deputy Commissioner-General, Sandra Mitchell, made the joint announcement during a ceremony in Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem.

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2016: The story of a Holocaust survivor who encountered Pope Francis

Posted on Aug 12, 2016 in Christians, Human rights, World

Pope meets with Holocaust survivor

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