Posts made in July, 2016

WCC: ‘Unprecedented times of hopelessness’ in Holy Land

Posted on Jul 29, 2016

DSPR’s Ramzi Zananiri is worried. © WCC/Claus Grue

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.

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Travel Diary of a Palestinian to World Youth Days in Krakow

Posted on Jul 28, 2016

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.

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Israel’s Great Divide

Posted on Jul 28, 2016

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.

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No, Israel isn’t being held to ‘a different standard’

Posted on Jul 27, 2016

Palestinian women walk past Israeli border police at the Damascus Gate at the entrance of the Old City in East Jerusalem in 2015.

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.

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Palestine Youth Orchestra goes places to spread a positive message with its music

Posted on Jul 27, 2016

Palestine Youth Orchestra goes places to spread a positive message with its music

Palestine Youth Orchestra goes places to spread a positive message with its music

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.

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Israeli NGOs decry ‘deeply anti-democratic move’ as new law approved

Posted on Jul 26, 2016

sraeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, right takes part in a Jewish Home party meeting in the Knesset in February. (Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)

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.

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Christian Association criticizes the new law on NGOs

Posted on Jul 26, 2016

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”.

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Israel’s new NGO Bill – what it is and what it means

Posted on Jul 26, 2016

Americans for Peace Now

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).

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What the Holy See has to say about conflict in the Middle East

Posted on Jul 25, 2016

St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vigil of Divine Mercy, April 2, 2016. Credit: Alexey Gotovskiy/CNA.

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.

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Peacemaking: Influence of religion

Posted on Jul 25, 2016

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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:

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