Seeking truth and justice

Sabeel Wave of Prayer on August 15, 2019

Posted on Aug 15, 2019

Sabeel, Ecumenical Liberation Theology CenterThe Great March of Return on Friday, 9th August was much quieter than usual with no current reports of injuries. This is due to the feast of Eid al-Adha which started on Sunday, 11th August and an ongoing decline in the protests through agreements brokered by Egypt. Despite this, a number of Palestinians were killed after allegedly attempting to enter into Israel from Gaza. The occupation Israeli forces claimed that they were armed militants and shelled a number of areas inside Gaza as a response.

    Lord, we continue to pray for the people of Gaza. We pray that they may one day be able to return to their homes and that the ongoing Israeli military blockade will end. Grant those in positions of power around the world the courage to speak truth to power and stand up and act wherever injustice is seen. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.
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The Meaning of Israel’s Massive Housing Demolitions in East Jerusalem

Posted on Aug 14, 2019

Destruction at this scale and visibility cannot be understood without grasping its political message; in fact, the scale and visibility are the message.

by Jeff Harper, head of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) and the author of War Against the People: Israel, the Palestinians and Global Pacification (2015)

Image: Israeli forces blow up a Palestinian building in the village of Sur Baher on July 22. (Reuters / Ammar Awad)

Israeli forces blow up a Palestinian building in the village of Sur Baher on July 22. (Reuters / Ammar Awad)

The Nation, August 6, 2019 – The act itself wasn’t unusual. Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes is a routine, almost daily occurrence. What set it apart was the scale, the impunity, and the political implications.

On July 22, the Israeli Civil Administration—that’s the Orwellian term Israel uses for its military government in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)—deployed 900 Israel Defense Forces soldiers and Border Police to demolish 13 apartment blocks, evicting 17 people in 70 apartments that were slated to house hundreds more in the Palestinian neighborhood of Wadi al-Hummus, to the southeast of Jerusalem.

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Nicaragua Embassy in Palestine

Posted on Aug 13, 2019

Sabeel, Ecumenical Liberation Theology CenterAugust 13, 2019 – On Wednesday, the 7th of August Riyad al-Maliki, the Foreign Minister of the Palestinian Authority, announced that Nicaragua had decided to open an Embassy in Palestine. In recent years several European and South American countries have recognised Palestine, but these moves have had limited diplomatic effect.

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Getting My Head Kicked In — in the Palestinian Territories

Posted on Aug 13, 2019

It’s slow going on almost any road to peace. 

by Chris Lorigan, OZY Author, August 13, 2019

It was about 2:30 am when they came.

We’d been awake for around 60 hours, watching them come, make plans and then go. It’s not unheard of for the Israeli military to come to a village in the dead of night to attempt a demolition — morale and energy are lower, the majority of the press is sleeping. It’s just easier.

I’d arrived in the Palestinian Territories a month before with my wife. Working with an organization, we’d covered the cutting off of water supplies to farming communities; multiple injuries and deaths; the cultural resistances of shopkeepers, artists and craftsmen; the slow breaking up of the West Bank; and a 9-year-old who was sitting on a doorstep and got shot in the head by a stray bullet.

I was to begin a narrative for a documentary earlier that week. Dialogue, footage and interviews were already in hand. But for days we’d been in Wadi al-Hummus, a small village in Sur Baher, Jerusalem, observing the military as they scouted buildings that they planned to demolish.

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Presbyterian Paul Findley was one of the first to speak out against Israel’s oppression of Palestinians

Posted on Aug 9, 2019

Alison Weir writes:

I’m deeply saddened to inform you that one of our founding board members, Paul Findley, has passed away at the age of 98. I urge you to view this moving documentary about his life.

Paul Findley was a forefather of the movement for justice in Palestine, speaking and writing about Palestine for over 40 years. I was honored to have him as a friend.

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Wallwritings: Love, Not Hate, Must Follow the Amens

Posted on Aug 9, 2019

James M Wallby James M. Wall

Works of film art endure when the underlying intent remain the same. One segment in John Ford’s film, The Searchers, reminds us that revenge is not a morsel best eaten when cold, but a morsel best buried with the dead.

Jesus said it best, “little children, love one another”.

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A Palestinian Christian’s Perspective on El Paso

Posted on Aug 9, 2019

Samia Khoury writes from East Jerusalem

To My American Friends:

After watching the news about the El Paso, Texas shooting I started writing a note of condolences to my friends in Texas. It has been sixty five years since I graduated from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, but I still have a soft spot for that area despite statements by some of the Texas representatives regarding our region and our rights. Even though those who favor peace and a two-state solution never seem to be willing to impose sanctions on Israel for violating human rights. While the shooting in El-Paso was taking place, Israeli soldiers were shooting young Palestinian children and holding a seven year old boy for interrogation and putting restrictions on the funeral of a released prisoner.

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Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh writes from the UK

Posted on Aug 6, 2019

mazin qumsiyeh w175 In his Palestinian Christians newsletter, Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh, on a speaking tour in the UK and Scotland, writes about being transported to his Palestine of the 19th century.

Like being transported in a time machine, I visited my Palestine of the 19th century. This happened because of my visit to the offices and the archives of the Palestine Exploration Fund (PEF) in London. Maps, notes, books, and journals. I joined as a member. PEF basically mapped every village and town in Palestine, the first comprehensive scientific study of its kind in the 19th century. Simply stunning collection. Of course it is also a challenge to the Zionist myth of a land without a people. Our own research work proceeds on comparing 19th century findings with today’s. The latest paper accepted for publication compares raptor bird findings and changes over 150 years in Palestine.

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Palestinians are holding weddings, baptisms, burials in villages destroyed by Israel

Posted on Aug 6, 2019

Image: On Easter Monday in the displaced Palestinian village of Iqrit, residents dance around the town's church, April 21, 2014. (Activestills.org)

On Easter Monday in the displaced Palestinian village of Iqrit, residents dance around the town’s church, April 21, 2014. (Activestills.org)


Third-generation survivors of the Nakba are returning to the churches in the villages Israel destroyed in 1948 to hold religious ceremonies.

By +972 Magazine |Published July 30, 2019

By Suha Arraf

Just over two weeks ago, Khaled Bisharat, son of famed journalist and author Odeh Bisharat, was married in a church in the village of Ma’alul. It was a wedding like any other, apart from one fact: Ma’alul, which lies just four miles southwest of Nazereth, was destroyed by Israel in the 1948 war, and most of its displaced residents fled to the town of Yafa an-Naseriyye.

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Church renews legal battle over Jerusalem properties, citing new evidence

Posted on Aug 6, 2019

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate claims discovery of alleged corruption within Ateret Cohanim group is sufficient to overturn Supreme Court ruling on Old City

By Agencies and TOI staff

Image: Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III (3rd left) together with the Franciscan Custodian of the Holy Land Fr Francesco Patton (2nd left) and fellow church leaders from different denominations hold an ecumenical prayer outside the Petra hostel at Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, on July 11, 2019. (GALI TIBBON/AFP)

Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III (3rd left) together with the Franciscan Custodian of the Holy Land Fr Francesco Patton (2nd left) and fellow church leaders from different denominations hold an ecumenical prayer outside the Petra hostel at Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, on July 11, 2019. (GALI TIBBON/AFP)

The Greek Orthodox Church said Monday that it has filed a new lawsuit against a Jewish pro-settlement group in a bid to overturn a Supreme Court decision upholding the sale of three properties in Jerusalem’s Old City.

The Patriarchate claimed in a statement that it had “clear proof” of corruption in the long-disputed 2004 sale of several Old City properties, including two Palestinian-run hotels, to the right-wing group.

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Catholic ordinaries voice concern over decision to deport Filipino mothers and children

Posted on Aug 6, 2019


Photo: Catholic ordinaries voice concern over decision to deport Filipino mothers and children
Image: Letterhead of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land

Deportation of Filipino mothers with their children

August 3, 2019

We, the heads of the Catholic Church in Israel, are deeply concerned about the recent decision of the immigration authority to deport Filipino mothers and their children. Even if the persons concerned are migrant workers who have lost their status and residence permit in Israel, it is impossible to ignore the particular circumstances of these women and their children who were born in Israel.

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Fr Dave Smith: Back from Syria

Posted on Aug 5, 2019


by Fighting Father Dave Smith

Dave here – back from Syria and finally ready to debrief the experience.

It was my eighth trip to Syria in the last six years, and it’s been remarkable to see how the country and the people have evolved over that time. Back in 2013, I’d look out from my hotel room in Damascus at night and see the glow of mortar fire encircling the city. Now the talk is all about rebuilding, or at least about the hope of rebuilding. The horrible sanctions we’ve placed on the country make rebuilding difficult in the extreme.

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Listen to Mandela

Posted on Aug 2, 2019

The Bible story of the true prophet Elijah is recorded in the 1 Kings18:16-39 account of his confrontation with the 450 false prophets. His prayer was answered by fire from the Lord which consumed his offering rather than those of the false prophets. Gideon Levy, the Palestinian affairs columnist for Haaretz, is a modern-day Elijah, an Israeli Jew, a prophet of truth and reality who speaks with and for the Palestinians. He continues to confront and challenge his government’s much publicized and conflated narrative that any criticism of the Israeli government’s repressive and oppressive treatment of the Palestinian People is anti-Semitic and a threat to the existence of Israel. Which narrative is closest to truth and reality?

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July 2019 Educating through music: the experience of young Palestinians in Bethlehem

Posted on Aug 1, 2019


The situation of persistent conflict is in fact today still causing a series of problems related to psychological stress and an increase in the level of violence at home, in schools and more generally at the community level.

Last month (July), after two years of lessons, a group of 20 Palestinian students and professionals finished the Music Therapy course “You will find me in the sound”. The project was promoted by Association pro Terra Sancta in collaboration with Bethlehem University, the Italian association “Musica Prima”, the center “Service of Psychology of Learning and Education in the Developmental Age” (SPAEE) of the Catholic University of Milan, and the Associazione Francesco Realmonte.

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The overlooked wisdom of Arab women journalists in the middle east

Posted on Jul 31, 2019

by Eloise Blondiau,* July 29, 2019

“Even in wartime,” writes journalist Hannah Allam, women in Najaf, Iraq, wear abayas—“long billowy robes that leave only their faces, hands, and feet exposed.”

After she repeatedly came under fire, Allam learned how to run in an abaya. “You use your left hand to hold the silky fabric under your chin to keep it in place and your right hand to hike up the bottom to free your feet. Then you run in a zigzag pattern to avoid giving a clear shot to the snipers.”

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[Video] This is what annexation looks like

Posted on Jul 31, 2019

Late Sunday night I watched in absolute horror as people I follow on social media frantically shared live pictures and videos of hundreds of soldiers and police entering the neighborhood of Wadi Hummus to forcibly remove residents and destroy their homes.

They had sealed off the area from journalists, but Palestinian and Jewish activists were still there filming. If you are not made of stone, the footage will shake you.

This is what annexation looks like. It’s brutal and it’s heart-breaking and it’s devastatingly cruel – at least 12 buildings were destroyed by Israel’s bulldozers and hundreds more are slated for demolition….

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Christians need to know Jewish opposition to Zionism is on the rise

Posted on Jul 31, 2019

A letter from Steve France* posted in Mondoweiss

Dear Christians:

Suppose that you were a guest at a Passover Seder and you dared to bring up Israeli treatment of the Palestinians . . . and your host turned to you and said, “Thanks, for raising that. We really have trouble reclaiming our Judaism from the old Zionist narrative.” Unthinkable? Not as much as it used to be.

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Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land denounce new acts of intimidation towards Christian communities

Posted on Jul 30, 2019

Agenzia Fides, Jish (Galilee), 22/7/2019 – The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land has denounced the recent acts of intimidation perpetrated against local Christian communities by extremist Jewish groups, considered close to the settler movement.

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Israeli Impunity: The Demolitions of Sur Baher

Posted on Jul 27, 2019

by Samia Khoury

There was a wide coverage by the media this past week of the brutal demolition of Palestinian homes in Sur Baher in the Palestinian territories. It was so brutal that the attack by some settlers from the Neve Yacov settlement on the St. James church in Beit hanina with yogart cartons and tomatoes while they were celebrating the end of the summer camp seemed almost harmless despite its racist significance, and intrusion on the grounds of the church which is very close to our house and where I usually worship.

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Demolitions in Sur Baher set dangerous precedent for Palestinian communities

Posted on Jul 27, 2019

Report from Norwegian Refugee Council

Jerusalem, 22 July 2019 – The demolition of 10 buildings by Israeli forces in the Sur Baher neighborhood in East Jerusalem today, totaling around 70 apartments, is a grave breach of international humanitarian law and sets a dangerous precedent, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said today. The majority of the structures are located in Areas A and B, which fall under Palestinian civil control, including for planning and building matters, as designated by the Oslo Accords.

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As Israel destroys Palestinian homes, Congress demonizes a non-violent boycott

Posted on Jul 27, 2019

“BDS holds Israel accountable – unlike the White House or Congress”

(New York City, NY) July 23, 2019: Yesterday, Israeli troops demolished Palestinian homes in the village of Sur Baher in violation of international law, claiming that they were too close to Israel’s Apartheid Wall – even though Israel had built the Apartheid Wall through the middle of that village. Today, rather than condemn the Israeli government for further obstructing the path to peace, the House of Representatives voted (398-17) in favor of a resolution which condemns the non-violent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) for Palestinian rights and freedom.

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For Christians in the Holy Land, churches are more than just pilgrimage sites

Posted on Jul 26, 2019

By Matt Hadro

Washington D.C., Jul 25, 2019 / 03:15 am (CNA).- Churches, shrines, and monasteries in the Middle East are not only pilgrimage destinations, but also places of sanctuary, identity, and hope for local Christians who are suffering existential threats, local religious leaders said.

“Christ dwelt among us in Bethlehem, in Egypt, in Galilee, and, of course, in Jerusalem. And by His Holy Spirit, he has continued to be present down the ages in Jerusalem, the Middle East, and to the very ends of the earth,” Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem said. “Our holy sites tell the stories of God’s history with us.”

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WCC general secretary condemns demolitions in Wadi-Al-Hummus

Posted on Jul 25, 2019

24 July 2019 – World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit called on Israel to stop the illegal demolitions immediately. “Israeli authorities have demolished 16 Palestinian buildings, containing some 70 apartments, in Wadi Al-Hummus, in occupied East Jerusalem. This is against international law.” Over two hundred people have already been displaced in East Jerusalem this year.

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Samia Khoury: Will we ever enjoy a world without walls or barriers?

Posted on Jul 22, 2019

Image: Samia Khoury presents a copy of her book to Pope Francis during his visit to Palestine.

Samia Khoury presents a copy of her book to Pope Francis during his visit to Palestine.

by Samia Khoury

Once again I attended the closing performance of Al-Fawnees last night after I had been at its opening on Saturday, the 13th of July 2019.  It ran full house for a whole week at Yabous Cultural Centre in Jerusalem.  Al-Fawanees is a musical composed by my son Suhail and was performed for the first time at the opening of the Ramallah Cultural Palace in 2004.

The political situation has deteriorated so much since then and East  Jerusalem has become almost another ghetto in which the Israeli occupation has  been trying to  squeeze us into .  It was so important for a show like Al-Fawanees to lift our spirits and put some life into  the streets of East Jerusalem.  We needed such an evening to divert our attention from watching  the news of so much brutality against our people and so  many  absurdities on the political scene.

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In Iraq, a new Catholic hospital and university bring hope to an embattled Christian community

Posted on Jul 20, 2019

Ragheb Elias Karash of ACN | Jul 17, 2019

For more than three years, the Archdiocese of Erbil hosted more than 120,000 Christians who fled the 2014 onslaught of ISIS on the Nineveh Plains in northern Iraq.

Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, Kurdistan, has been the prime mover behind the establishment of two major new Christian institutions in the region. In 2016, the Catholic University in Erbil opened its doors and late summer will see the formal opening of the new Catholic hospital in Erbil, the Maryamana, dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

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Franciscan Parishes: the agreement with the Latin Patriarchate has been signed

Posted on Jul 19, 2019

An important step that saw 12 parishes across Israel, Palestine and Cyprus being regulated. These parishes were born from the Franciscan presence in the Holy Land but, from a pastoral point of view, are the responsibility of the local Bishop.

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Martha and Mary are alive and well in Bethany, keeping the economy on its feet

Posted on Jul 18, 2019

Women are part of an exciting new initiative in the place where Lazarus rose from the dead.

donne betaniaThe city of Bethany on the West Bank is famous for a few different reasons — from its proximity to Jerusalem (about a mile and a half) on the east slope of the Mount of Olives, to being the location of the Tomb of Lazarus, a follower of Jesus whom He resurrected four days after he died from an illness.

If you are familiar with that part of Scripture, you’ll know that two women are also an important part of that story — Lazarus’ two sisters, Martha and Mary. The sisters were extremely hospitable in welcoming Jesus to their village. Some hold that Mary is the same woman who sprinkled him with perfumed oil and wiped his feet with her hair (John 12: 1-2).

It was this important piece of the Gospel that has led a group of entrepreneurial Palestinian women to come up with an idea to promote tourism and cultural development in their region — including handmade perfumes and creams made from the natural resources of the region. It’s an idea rooted in the history of the region, and it helps to empower women by teaching them skills and offering resources to help them support their families.

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What the Catholic Church in Ethiopia is doing to help people displaced by violence

Posted on Jul 18, 2019

by Bronwen Dachs – Catholic News Service

The Catholic Church in Ethiopia is leading peace and reconciliation efforts while it does what it can to help the millions of people who have fled their homes in an upsurge in communal violence.

Cardinal Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel of Addis Ababa, president of the Ethiopian bishops’ conference, heads up the 41-member national reconciliation commission.

Ethiopia’s parliament approved the establishment of the commission last December as part of reforms instituted by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who took power in 2018 after his predecessor resigned. Abiy has lifted bans on political parties, released political prisoners, prosecuted officials accused of human rights abuses and embarked on economic reforms.

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Hebrew opera takes on Israeli-Palestinian conflict at French festival

Posted on Jul 18, 2019

Aix-en-Provence (France) (AFP) – It features an Israeli prime minister, Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, a hit squad and a Shin Beth spy chief.

But this is not another story on the intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict but an opera unusually with a libretto in Hebrew, the official language of Israel.

“The Sleeping Thousand”, an opera by Israeli composer Adam Maor with the libretto by Yonatan Levy, was premiered at the prestigious Aix-en-Provence opera festival in southern France this month.

“This opera speaks of oppression and above all, its impact on the oppressor,” Maor told AFP.

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Car bomb near church in Syria wounds several

Posted on Jul 18, 2019

.- A car bomb exploded near a Syriac Orthodox church in Qamishli Thursday, injuring about 11 people. It is unclear who is responsible for the attack.

According to AFP, the July 11 bombing “slightly dented” the metal gate of the Church of the Virgin Mary located in the al-Wasta neighborhood of Qamishli, in Syria’s Al-Hasakah Governorate on the border with Turkey.

Sana, the Syrian state news agency, reported that the blast caused “material damage to parts of the church, shops and cars.”

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