Posts made in March, 2017

Perhaps the Messiah Will Come

Posted on Mar 11, 2017

gush shalomby Uri Avnery

IF SOMEONE had told me 50 years ago that the rulers of Israel, Jordan and Egypt had met in secret to make peace, I would have thought that I was dreaming.

If I had been told that the leaders of Egypt and Jordan had offered Israel complete peace in return for leaving the occupied territories, with some exchanges of territory and a token return of refugees, I would have thought that the Messiah had come. I would have started to believe in God or Allah or whoever there is up there.

Yet a few weeks ago it was disclosed that the rulers of Egypt and Jordan had indeed met in secret last year with the Prime Minister of Israel in Aqaba, the pleasant sea resort where the three states touch each other. The two Arab leaders, acting de facto for the entire Arab world, had made this offer. Benyamin Netanyahu gave no answer and went home.

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Book on conditions of Christians in region launched

Posted on Mar 11, 2017

Panelists discuss the Arabic edition of Nael Gerges’ book ‘Christians of the Middles East: Towards Citizenship’ at the Orthodox Club in Amman last week (Photo by Rula Samain)

By Rula Samain | The Jordan Times | Mar 11,2017

AMMAN — Documenting the situation of Christians and their rights in four Arab countries, the Arabic edition of Nael Gerges’ book Christians of the Middles East: Towards Citizenship was launched in Amman on Tuesday.

The book discusses ways of improving the conditions of Christians in the region and creating a new Middle East based on religious and political pluralism, with the aim of minimizing Christian emigration.

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Swiss Guards Make Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

Posted on Mar 10, 2017

Holy Land Christians need to know they still have a lot to give to the Christians of the world. When pilgrims come from China, from South Africa, from Rome, it affirms that this place is special and that they are special.  –Franciscan Father David Grenier from the Custody of the Holy Land

Church of the Holy Sepulcher (Pixabay)

Michele Chabin | National Catholic Register | March 10, 2017

JERUSALEM — The first organized Holy Land pilgrimage in Pontifical Swiss Guard history quietly took place last month, with none of the attention the Pope’s foot soldiers ordinarily attract.

Dressed in their civilian clothes and not their distinctive orange-purple-and-red uniforms, 12 of the 110 guardsmen who protect the Pope toured Christian holy sites throughout Israel and the Palestinian territories Feb. 13-19.

“The main purpose of the trip was to learn more about the places where Jesus lived, where he preached, where he died and was resurrected,” said Father Thomas Widmer, the group’s chaplain, during a visit to the Pontifical Institute Notre Dame in Jerusalem. “For most of us, it is our first time here, and we are full of impressions.”

The pilgrimage included visits to Bethlehem, Jerusalem and the Galilean sites of Nazareth, Tabgha and Capernaum.

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WCC gravely concerned over Israel’s travel ban

Posted on Mar 9, 2017

Church in Bethlehem. ©Albin Hillert/WCC

World Council of Churches

March 9, 2017 -The World Council of Churches (WCC) today expressed grave concern about a new law passed on Monday by the Knesset which reportedly forbids granting entry visas to foreign nationals who call for economic, cultural or academic boycotts of either Israel or the Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. The ‘Entry to Israel Act (Denial of Visa to Non-Residents Who Knowingly Call for a Boycott on Israel)’ apparently makes no distinction between boycotting Israel proper and boycotting products of the settlements, which are widely considered illegal under international law.

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A festive crowd in Bethlehem welcomed the victory of the young Christian Yacoub Shaheen

Posted on Mar 9, 2017

A festive crowd in Bethlehem to greet the victory of the young Christian Yacoub Shaheen

by Myriam Ambroselli | Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem | Feb. 27, 2017

BETHLEHEM – Hundreds of Palestinians rejoiced in the streets of Bethlehem on Saturday evening, February 25, 2017, after the victory of the young Christian singer, Shaheen Yacoub, who became second Palestinian to win the Arab TV contest, Arab Idol, one of the most popular programs of the Arab world, a competition for young talent.

Yacoub Shaheen, 23, a Syrian Christian and son of a Bethlehem carpenter, won Saturday night’s Arab Idol competition, competing with another Palestinian and a Yemeni in the final, in Lebanon.

Yacoub (in English, James), a young acolyte of the Syrian parish of Bethlehem, has been able to follow the star. He became the second Palestinian to win this prestigious competition, after Mohammed Assaf, in 2013, who grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp in the Gaza Strip.

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Basil of Al-Walaja: RIP

Posted on Mar 8, 2017

In his email to the Palestinian Christians group, Mazin Qumsiyeh wrote:

My encounter with the Al-Araj family began in 2009, the year I met Basil and Shireen and started joining them in demonstrations in Al-Walaja village. On 6 March 2017, Basil was murdered by the Israeli army. He was 31 years old. Others will speak of his martyrdom, I will speak of his life and what he told me. Basil would have wanted it told this way. I learned intimate details about Basil and his family life the third time we were detained together. He was 24 years old; I was twice his age. This was in what Basil accurately described as “a holding pen not fit for animals” which I and many Palestinian males shared with one Palestinian female, my friend and Basil’s aunt Shireen Al-Araj. I had been “taken” twice before with Basil and once with Shireen before this particular incident (and more after). It was these arrests that deepened my high regard for the family. Beyond their decency and honest dealings were acts of self-sacrifice that earned the family the respect of their entire village of Al-Walaja and I dare say all of Palestine. This is similar to Al-Tamimi family of Nebi Saleh and it was no coincidence that Basem Tamimi was there with us in Al-Walaja the day after Basil’s murder. Here I am not telling you the story of Basil, but I am recounting what Basil told me and what I had written down in 2014 (was planning to publish inspirational Palestinian stories in a book). I merely now edited it to (a) add this introduction), (b) change to past tense instead of present tense (‘Basil says or relays’ now becomes ‘Basil said or relayed’), and (c) to include a brief ending with his last words.

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Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns: Viability or Demise of the “Two-state Solution”

Posted on Mar 7, 2017

151210 Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Commentary: The articles and links of this issue of the Middle East Notes focus on the viability or demise of the “two-state solution.” The majority of the Palestinian leaders and people would accept such a solution, even though they believe current the “fact of the ground” that settlers, settlements, the wall, access roads, and blockade have already made this solution impossible.

The majority of Israeli leaders and people prefer either the status quo or annexation of the occupied territories. It seems the Israeli people are choosing a “one-state” solution and are now facing the question of what kind of state that will be with almost numerically equal Israeli and Palestinian populations.

There seem to be three choices: to continue the untenable and ultimately unsustainable status quo of military domination of Palestinians; to foster full political rights and responsibilities for all Palestinians and Israelis alike in this one state which will slowly end the Zionist dream of a nation for and of Jews; or to deny political rights and responsibilities to Palestinians within the borders of this one apartheid state. In light of Israeli domination of the Palestinians, it is only Israel that has the power, challenge, and responsibility to make such a choice. 

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Christian Peacemaker Team: Discrimination

Posted on Mar 7, 2017

160423 cpt

Pictured here: On the weekly settler incursion to the Old City, Palestinian residents are prevented from accessing their homes whilst settlers are allowed to move freely, under the protection of Israeli Military Forces.

(March 4, 2017)

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Father Dave, with a debrief on his last Syria trip

Posted on Mar 7, 2017

Our delegation was deeply impressed by the aid work being done by the church in Syria, and no work was more impressive than that of ‘Gopa Derd’ – the aid arm of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.

Anglican Father Dave Smith of Australia writes about his last trip to Syria:

Our delegation meets Dr Hassoun – the Grand Mufti of Syria (and one of my favourite human beings)

Firstly, let me thank all of you who made our New Year’s trip to Syria possible – supporting us financially and with prayer. Secondly, let me apolgise for the time it has taken to feed back to you about the trip.

I’ll address my time issues later in this missive, but let me say first that I think the trip was highly constructive and that we achieved most of our aims, if not all of them.

We didn’t get to Aleppo, and we didn’t get the media focus on the Syrian people that we had been looking for. Even so, we did deliver some tangible aid and, most importantly, we did work out a way of getting ongoing aid where it’s most needed.

This, in my opinion, is the biggest problem facing Syria at the moment. The victory on the battlefield is all but complete. Even so, life is not returning to normal. So many homes have been destroyed and so many people are in need, and the country is simply out of resources! The Syrian people need help in order to rebuild, yet instead of sending them aid, we impose sanctions, making it impossible for them to rebuild!

There is a demonic paradox at the heart of Western foreign policy towards Syria:

  1. We bomb their country and destroy their homes
  2. Through sanctions, we then stop them from rebuilding
  3. We then complain like hell if they try to leave their country to join us!

US Senator, Chris Murphy, summed up the situation rather succinctly in a Twitter Tweet recently: “We bomb your country, creating a humanitarian nightmare, then lock you inside. That’s a horror movie, not a foreign policy.”

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Uri Avnery: The Cannons of Napoleon

Posted on Mar 7, 2017

gush shalomby Uri Avnery

NAPOLEON CAME to a German town and was not welcomed with the traditional artillery salute.

Furious, he summoned the mayor and demanded an explanation.

The German produced a long scroll of paper and said: “I have a list of 99 reasons. Reason No. 1: we have no cannon.”

“That’s enough'” Napoleon interrupted him, “You can go home!”

I WAS reminded of this story some two weeks ago, when I read Yitzhak Herzog’s 10-point peace plan.

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