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
Gush Shalom founder Uri Avnery urges readers to sign a petition demanding the Israeli Football Association either remove the settlement football clubs from its membership or relocate them outside the illegal settlements
In recent days, a growing global campaign is calling for soccer clubs based at Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories to be banned from participation in the Israeli Soccer League. Should the Israeli Soccer Association fail to comply, Israeli soccer in general might find itself expelled from FIFA, the International Soccer Association.Read More
by Uri Avnery
SO HERE we are. Either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be our next president.
“Our”? I am not a US citizen, and have no desire to be one.
But I live in a world in which the USA is the sole superpower, in which every decision of the US administration has an impact on the lives of every human being.
FOR ME AS a citizen of Israel, this impact is much greater than for most and much more immediate. I just saw a cartoon showing both Trump and Hillary crawling on the ground and licking the boots of an Israeli soldier. This is not too much of an exaggeration.
Both candidates claim to be unwavering supporters of “Israel”. But what does that mean? Do they support all sections of Israeli society?Read More
(Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem) Ramallah – On Tuesday July 12, 2016, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas awarded the Medal of Jerusalem to H.B. Emeritus Fouad Twal.
The Latin Patriarch was welcomed in the presidential compound in the city of Ramallah in presence of Mr. Hanna Amireh, PLO Executive Committee member, Mr. Ziad Bandak, the advisor to President Abbas on Christian affairs, Mr. Majdi Al-Khaldi, the advisor to President Abbas for Diplomatic Affairs and International relations and a few Latin Patriarchate priests.Read More
Monday, July 25, 2016 – 11:00am to 1:00pm
A roundtable discussion with lawmakers and activists exploring the current status of Palestinian rights advocacy. Speakers include Representative Keith Ellison, Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District, Dr. James Zogby, founder and president of the Arab American Institute, and Linda Sarsour, co-founder of the Muslim Democratic Club of New York and New York State Delegate to the DNC. Josh Ruebner, Policy Director for the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, will moderate the session.Read More
In her letter to Hillary Clinton, Besan Aljadili responds to the candidate’s speech at AIPAC. She writes: “I doubt you see Palestinians as humans, because if you did, your Israel-only stance would have changed. But I assure you that Palestinians have hearts that seek safety and peace with every beat. We are made of flesh and blood like any other human being walking this earth. We have dreams just like yours and we have the desire to love and be loved. Instead, since the moment I entered university, I have feared ending up unemployed with no future, like 200,000 other Palestinians in Gaza.”Read More
As the Presidential campaign unfolds in the United States, Palestinian Christian Samia Khoury writes:
As Palestinians, we have always been blamed for having missed on many opportunities and generous offers that could have guaranteed our liberation and independence. It is always easy to claim so in hindsight. But the choices we have been offered were always either bad choices or worse choices. So no sane Palestinian would have accepted any of those offers, whether it was the partition plan of 1947 or the “generous offer” of Ehud Barak, or the ongoing peace negotiations under which new realities have been created and which had obliterated the Palestinian right of return in accordance to UN resolution 194 on December 11, 1948. But the history of the partition of Palestine and the process of the ethnic cleansing of its indigenous Palestinian population is well known by now. Thanks to the many historians, including Israeli historians, such as Ilan Pappe and others who refuted the Israeli claim that the Palestinians left their homes and towns in 1948, on their own and basically at the request of Arab leaders.
Britain and the USA played a major role in the Palestinian Nakba in 1948, and despite all UN resolutions to redress the glaring injustice done to the Palestinians at that time, they continue to hinder any action towards granting the Palestinians their legitimate rights, including the right of return. That is why I felt that rating Mr. Obama should be related to the many missed opportunities during his two-term office as president of the USA. Without putting an end to that grave injustice, there will never be peace or security for the whole region.Read More
Clinton’s major opponent for the nomination, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders [the candidate with a Jewish heritage who called for the US to acknowledge the human rights of Palestinians and take a more balanced approach vis-à-vis Israel and Palestine], graciously conceded and called for a unanimous affirmation of her nomination. Some of his delegates were not so gracious, threatening to cast their votes on November 8 for someone other than Clinton. Wall urges readers to ponder what happens when a third party throws a proverbial “monkey wrench” into a presidential race.
On August 18, 1920, the U.S. Congress ratified the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting women the right to vote.
On Thursday night, July 28, 2016, just short of 96 years later, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was nominated by the Democratic National Convention to become the next president of the United States.
Almost a century after women gained the right to vote, a woman is now one election away from becoming president.Read More
From the West Bank, Mazin Qumsiyeh sends news regarding Palestinian Christians.
We get depressed to hear from friends in Gaza of the continuing hardships and almost impossible life they live under Israeli siege. That siege does not seem to end as the Turkish government “normalized” its relationship with Israel (i.e. went back to being a partner in crime). We get uplifted by the indomitable spirit of resistance of the young people who don’t give up.
We hear Bernie Sanders abandon his principles and support Hillary Clinton for President (she is a Zionist war monger and will not be much better than the lunatic Donald Trump).Read More
by Claus Grue, communication consultant for the World Council of Churches
World Council of Churches, July 12, 2016 – Every morning a cheerful and articulate man arrives at his office in East Jerusalem with at least a grain of hope. Dr Bernard Sabella has devoted his entire life to the rights of the Palestinian people. In his job as the executive director of Department of Services to Palestinian Refugees (DSPR), he encounters issues concerning the Palestinian-Israeli relationship daily. At the same time, he just wants to be an ordinary citizen in the country where he and his family have their roots, without constantly being associated with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which at times he feels does injustice to his identity as a Palestinian.Read More
By Kate Veik and Kevin J. Jones
Krakow, Poland, Jul 28, 2016 / 12:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Among the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims at World Youth Day are two brothers, recently reunited.
“I’m from Syria,” Yousef Astfan, 34, told CNA. “It’s been divided.”
Yousef first attended World Youth Day in Madrid in 2011. Now he’s in Krakow with his brother, 25-year-old Al Astfan, a first-time attendee who loves the event.
“It’s great. It’s such a great opportunity to meet people from all the world, in the name of Jesus,” Al said.
Yousef explained his own thoughts about the massive Catholic youth gathering.Read More
11 July 2016
by Claus Grue, communication consultant at the World Council of Churches.
For Ramzi Zananiri, executive director of Jerusalem and the West bank at the Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees (DSPR), which is part of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), the current situation in the Holy Land is “heart-breaking”, and he says the Palestinians are “hostages” under troublesome realities.Read More
POLAND – Nearly 700 young people from the Diocese of Jerusalem left on Monday to take part in the World Youth Days, which will take place this year in Krakow in Poland. In this report, we will show their timetable in Poland, starting as of their outset from Jerusalem to Mass with Pope Francis, through George’s diary (an alias).
Summer 2016. George is the fictitious name of a young Palestinian Christian from Jerusalem, who is participating in WYD 2016, together with Pope Francis. He lives his daily enriching experiences, which shape his soul, tired and weary of the superficial life centered on materialistic and egocentric concerns.Read More
Are Jews of Middle Eastern, North African and Spanish descent discriminated against in Israel?
(Al Jazeera World) July 13, 2016 – Israel is a nation of immigrants, and first-generation Israelis comprise only 32 percent of the population.
Integration into Israeli society has been one of its main political goals and, under the leadership of founding prime minister David Ben-Gurion, Israel was going to be “the great Jewish melting pot”, but it has come under severe strain almost since its inception in 1948.
“There’s a gap in Israeli society,” says Karen Amit, an Israeli of Moroccan origin.Read More
by Amer Zahr, a Palestinian-American, comedian, writer and adjunct professor at University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. The views expressed are his own.
(CNN) July 13, 2016 – Last month, Jason Greenblatt, a Trump Organization executive vice president and adviser on Israel to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, told us all that Trump would be the best candidate for Israel.
While this may be true (especially if you are an ardent supporter of Israel’s current right-wing government), it seems to be an odd criterion upon which an American citizen might base his or her vote for U.S. president.
Defending Israel’s behavior in Jerusalem since 1948, Greenblatt leaves out much context and history. While it is factually true that Jordan committed gross violations during its control of Jerusalem from 1948-1967, Israel was no saint. In the aftermath of the 1948 war, at the same time Jordan was expelling roughly 1,500 Jewish residents from East Jerusalem, Israel forcibly evicted thousands of Muslim and Christian Palestinians from neighborhoods in West Jerusalem. Jewish residents occupy these homes today. Those exiled Palestinians were not given any compensation for their homes or the right to return to them, rights recognized under international law and United Nations resolutions.Read More
by Ben East
It is lunchtime on a sunny day in the Scottish city of Glasgow, and the general director of The Edward Said National Conservatory of Music is making a thoughtful observation about the aims of its Palestine Youth Orchestra.
Suddenly, a ping-pong ball bounces across the table. Suhail Khoury barely bats an eyelid.
“Having an orchestra can tell people that young Palestinians are like anyone else, despite their situation,” he says. “They like to play music; they like to have fun.”
Fun, in this case, means a game of table tennis at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, during a break from rehearsals for the PYO’s first tour of the United Kingdom, which begins in Perth today. The moment of levity sums up their approach: incredible passion about their work, but a desire to enjoy themselves as well.
“The atmosphere is like being in a family,” says Lamar Elias, a violinist from Bethlehem. “We wait from one year to the next to come together. Of course, an orchestra has to have time to practise, but it’s actually easier for us to gather here in Scotland than it is in Palestine itself.”
That the PYO exist at all is a triumph. Set up by Khoury in 2004 to showcase and encourage Palestinian talent and carry a message of love, hope and peace, there are constant logistical hurdles to overcome due to the difficulties of living in Israeli-occupied territories. Two musicians, for example, did not receive permits to leave Gaza, let alone board a flight to the UK.Read More
By Ruth Eglash and William Booth*
JERUSALEM, July 12 — Internationally known human rights organizations in Israel reacted with indignation Tuesday to a controversial law passed by the Israeli parliament that singles out groups receiving the majority of their funding from foreign governments.
Leaders of the groups, who make up the core of Israel’s “peace camp” and are part of the dwindling left wing in Israel, said the law was written by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to muzzle opposition to the almost 50-year military occupation of the West Bank.Read More
Jerusalem (Agenzia Fides) – On July 11th, the Israeli parliament passed a controversial bill requiring non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that receive more than fifty per cent of their funding from foreign governments to declare so publicly.
In light of the ruling William Bell, Christian Aid’s Senior Advocacy Advisor for Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territory expressed his criticism. “This bill”, said Bell “is a clear attempt to restrict or close down voices that speak out against injustice. The majority of the organisations that this law will apply to are human rights organisations, including Christian Aid’s Israeli partners B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence”.Read More
What is the bill? What does the bill say?
NOTE: This post was updated on January 21, 2016, to reflect changes introduced to the draft bill, as submitted by the cabinet to the Knesset on January 18, 2016. The language of the bill (Hebrew) can be found here.
The bill’s official title is “Amendment to Bill on disclosure regarding those supported by a foreign political entity (Increasing transparency for those supported mainly by foreign political entities).” It is also known by its backers as the “Transparency Bill.” The bill is an amendment to an existing 2011 law, which determines the disclosure requirements of Israeli non-profit, non-governmental organizations (NGOs or NPOs) that receive funding from “Foreign Political Entities” (foreign governments, the European Union or the United Nations).Read More
Vatican City, Jul 15, 2016 / 12:40 am (CNA/EWTN News).- If peace is to be achieved in the Middle East, it will be a joint effort, requiring the cooperation of political authorizes, religious leaders and civilians, said the Holy See’s representative at the United Nations.Read More
Researchers from the University of Arkansas invite people working as peacemakers around the world to take part in a survey entitled “Successful peacemaking: Effective tactics, peacemaker motivations, and the influence of religion in conflict resolution.” The following is a summary of the key findings thus far that was published in the July-August issue of NewsNotes.
Researchers analyzed survey data from 95 international peacemakers considered “high priority” – defined as working in conflict zones or traveling there periodically – on their most effective strategies, greatest successes, motivations, commitment, and views on religion’s role in peacemaking. The most prevalent countries of peacemaking in the sample were: Columbia, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Israel, Iraq, Uganda, and Syria. Three key findings emerged:Read More
Vote on resolution that plays down Jewish connection to Jerusalem postponed until October due to failed coup in Turkey
By Times of Israel staff July 17, 2016, 9:04 pm
Jews, Muslims and Christians all have the right to claim historical ties to the Old City of Jerusalem, the head of the UN’s cultural body said Sunday, as the organization postponed until October a vote on a new resolution that seeks to downplay the Jewish connection to the ancient city.Read More
The Pope’s permanent observer at the UN told the Security Council that the creation of two states would help bring peace to the region
(Catholic News Service) July 18, 2016 – Archbishop Bernardito Auza, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, told the UN Security Council in a July 12 debate that the time to make peace between Israel and Palestine was long overdue.Read More
A conference was held in Jerusalem to bring together young Catholics and Jews from around the world. Meetings, visits and dialogues were aimed at getting to know each other and discovering a possible friendship.
(Terra Santa News) Jerusalem, June 30, 2016 – “Religions and politics; addressing religious extremism.”
This is the title of a three-day event organized by the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with Judaism and the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC) which brought together fifty youngsters, of which 25 were Catholics and 25 were Jews.
This is now the fourth conference that is exclusively for young people since it began in 2008 in Budapest, Hungary, with just 10 people.
This year the conference was held in Jerusalem for the first time.Read More
If you’re living in America or Europe, the biggest story of this century is probably not what you think it is. Your global worldview forecast is next.
By: Eric MetaxasBreakpointPublished: June 30, 2016 6:00 AM in
We told you recently on BreakPoint that despite appearances in our corner of the world, religion is not going extinct. Quite the contrary. Predictions by the likes of Nietzsche, Marx, and Freud that faith would vanish have turned out spectacularly wrong.
Yes, in the West (particularly Europe) religion is on the decline. But on a global scale, secularism is the worldview that’s losing steam. Giles Fraser wrote recently in The Guardian, “The secularization hypothesis is a European myth, a piece of myopic parochialism that shows how narrow our worldview [is]… Religion is the future.”
But which religion?Read More
by Saher Kawas, Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM – Graffiti painted along the Separation wall, charged with political and social messages, have always been a form of protest against Israel’s unjust measures. Near the Emmanuel Monastery in Bethlehem, an icon of the Mother of God emerges on the 8-meter high concrete wall, revealing with its beauty the failure of communities to love one another.
Made at the request of the local faithful and some internationals, the icon of Our Lady who brings down walls was written on the Separation wall between Bethlehem and Jerusalem in 2010. The purpose of their request was clear; an icon that could bring along hope that the wall would come down some day.Read More
In the wake of the highly-anticipated Chilcot report, the World Council of Churches (WCC) stands by its original position, first adopted in 2002 via a wide consultative process with its member churches, that all possible efforts should have been exhausted to prevent the war in Iraq.
In 2002, the WCC, as it strongly affirmed that the rule of law should prevail instead of military intervention, warned about the risks and consequences of an invasion of Iraq. At that time, the WCC began preparations to avert a post-conflict humanitarian catastrophe through preparedness to respond to the needs of innocent civilians.Read More
The persecution of Christians in Iraq and Syria has exposed a rift among the half-million Chaldeans in the U.S., igniting furious debate as to whether the religious minority — subjects of ongoing genocide at the hands of ISIS — should remain in their ancestral home or seek asylum abroad.
According to leaders within the Chaldean community, which is an Iraq branch of the Catholic Church, there are two opposing factions within the religious community. One is led by Baghdad-based Patriarch Sako, who closely aligns under the governance of Pope Francis and holds particular influence among the 250,000 Chaldeans located in the Detroit area. Sako urges Chaldeans to hold fast to their bloody homeland.
Then there is the other side helmed by Bishop Sarhad Jammo, who until last week presided over Southern California’s 150,000-plus Chaldean community. Jammo advocated for Chaldeans to flee the war zone for their own survival. The two metropolitan regions host roughly 80 percent of American Chaldeans.Read More
The Iraqi Patriarch, Louis Raphael I, stated this in an interview with Fides news agency, following the publication of the Chilcot Report
by Gianni Valente, Vatican Insider
The Western-led armed intervention against Saddam Hussein in 2003 “triggered the infernal spiral we are now living in”. This is why the recently published Chilcot Report – which aims to reconstruct the cause and the events surrounding the involvement of the British army in that war – “is a positive step, because it is important to acknowledge the errors of the past, to ensure they are not repeated in the future”. The Chaldean Patriarch, Louis Raphael I said this in an interview with Catholic news agency Fides, in reference to the document recently produced by the Inquiry Committee chaired by Sir John Chilcot, documenting the inappropriateness and illegality of the military action taken on that occasion by the British government led by Tony Blair, against the Iraqi regime.Read More
Muslim communities and the West need to be reminded that Christianity is a child of the Middle East and is therefore not alien to the region. There needs to be recognition that Arab Christians suffer along with all Arabs the effects of unstable or oppressive governments and hostile foreign policies. In short, there needs to be a return to a generous pan-Arabism which embraces pluralism in that each Arab minority group is protected and welcomed. –Reverend Andrew Thompson
by Joanna Andrews, Al Shindagah
#Christianity originated in the Middle East. It was one of the major religions of the region until the Arab Muslim conquest in the 7th century. Today Christians make up just five per cent of the population of the Middle East. Reverend Andrew Thompson, the Senior Chaplain of St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Abu Dhabi, says low birth rates and political turmoil are two of the contributing factors. As part of our inter-faith series Joanna Andrews caught up with Reverend Thompson and started by asking him about #Christianity in the UAE.Read More
Christian presence in the Palestinian center of Ramallah, 16 kilometers north of Jerusalem. A journey in one of the most multicultural and religious cities of the territory.
The city of Ramallah, 16 kilometers north of Jerusalem, owes its name to two words that mean “God wanted.” It is characterized by a growing rapidly population, due to an internal migration from rural areas and other cities. Thanks to the growing job opportunities, residents have already exceeded 200 thousand people, according to the Palestinian statistics office.
Despite the changes, Ramallah continues to attract the Christian immigrants from the northern areas of the West Bank. Since the ancient times, Christians have found here a suitable place to settle. There are five churches of different denominations documenting their presence and various schools enrolling Christians and Muslims students.Read More