"Al-Bushra"

Seeking truth and justice

Churches’ Role in Forming the Movie Ratings System, Plus Violence within Our Land

Posted on May 29, 2020

Nashville and The Apostle are films that demand contemporary reflection. One, though set in the American south, may also evoke awareness of the brutality of military occupation in Palestine. The other is pertinent to last weekend’s dark day in Arizona. Both are teaching moments in a time of unresolved conflict, confusion and public anguish.

by James M. Wall

In search of movies to recommend during this self-isolation period, I found a Wall Writings posting that discusses two movies. (Note: parental discretion essential)

The films are two of my favorites, Nashville and The Apostle.

It was posted January 12, 2011, and like any posting, it reflects the author’s mindset at the time.

In this case, I wanted to note our periodic violent events, our national religious differences, the popularity of Nashville-style music, and my personal involvement in the motion picture ratings system.

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Churches Against Annexation

Posted on May 29, 2020

 

Israel is considering whether to annex large parts of the West Bank as early as July 1, with the U.S. government supporting and coordinating the annexation. What does this mean? How will this impact the daily lives of Palestinians and the prospect for peace?

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Ancient underground rooms discovered near the Wailing Wall

Posted on May 29, 2020

 

The archaeological excavations of the Israel Antiquities Authority near the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem have uncovered some underground rooms hidden under a floor…they are remnants of different historical periods, the oldest of which dates back to the first century AD.

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The attention of the Custody of the Holy Land for its employees despite the Coronavirus

Posted on May 29, 2020

 

The economic consequences of the Coronavirus pandemic have not spared even the Custody of the Holy Land, especially since the pilgrimages have completely stopped and external funding has decreased.

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Seven Reasons for Opposing West Bank Annexation

Posted on May 28, 2020

1. It is illegal

By unilaterally annexing the West Bank, Israel would be violating international law, and might suffer punitive consequences.

International law experts, including prom inent Israeli experts, are all but unanimous in considering the West Bank to be occupied territory, and in endorsing the view that international law prohibits the acquisition of territory by force, and extending the sovereignty of the occupying state onto that territory (which is the definition of annexation). This principle has been adopted and reiterated in the United Nations charter and in numerous UN resolutions, and affirmed by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Other countries have violated this principle and suffered severe international consequences, whether military action, diplomatic pressure, or economic sanctions. Indonesia, Morocco, Iraq and Russia are examples. Israel is already facing legal proceedings in the ICJ for violating these laws by establishing settlements in the West Bank. If Israel officially annexes these settlements, it will make the case against it at the ICJ much stronger.

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The Vatican objects to Israeli plan to annex Palestinian territory

Posted on May 27, 2020

 

Image: New housing units being built in the Israeli settlement Efrat are seen on the hillside overlooking a Palestinian village near Bethlehem, West Bank, May 10, 2020. The Vatican issued a statement May 20 stating concerns about an Israeli plan to unilaterally annex a large portion of land in the West Bank. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill)

New housing units being built in the Israeli settlement Efrat are seen on the hillside overlooking a Palestinian village near Bethlehem, West Bank, May 10, 2020. The Vatican issued a statement May 20 stating concerns about an Israeli plan to unilaterally annex a large portion of land in the West Bank. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill)

by Gerard O’Connell, America’s Vatican correspondent | May 20, 2020

The Holy See today expressed its opposition to an Israeli proposal to annex parts of the Palestinian territories in defiance of international law and the United Nations resolutions governing the territories.

The Israeli annexation plan was included in the agreement for a power-sharing government made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his former rival, Benny Gantz of the Blue and White party.

The Vatican communicated its opposition to this plan in a statement sent by its press office to the international media after Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican’s secretary for relations with states, spoke by phone with Saeb Erekat, the chief negotiator and secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, on May 20.

According to the statement, Mr. Erekat phoned the archbishop to “inform the Holy See about recent developments in the Palestinian territories and of the possibility of Israeli applying its sovereignty unilaterally to part of those territories, further jeopardizing the peace process.”

The new statement reiterated the Holy See’s long-held position that “respect for international law and the relevant United Nations resolutions is an indispensable element for the two peoples to live side by side in two states, within the borders internationally recognized before 1967.”

It said, “The Holy See is following the situation closely and expresses concern about any future actions that could further compromise dialogue.”

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The JNF is behind this Palestinian family’s eviction and we need your help to stop it

Posted on May 27, 2020

 

Ilana Lerman writes:

On June 30, the Sumarins, a Palestinian family in East Jerusalem, is going to court to try to hold onto their ancestral home — perhaps for the last time.

The Jewish National Fund (JNF), through its subsidiary organization, Himanuta, is seeking to evict this family of 18 from their home in Silwan.

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Register Today: Churches Against Annexation Webinar with Rev. Munther Isaac and Father Jamal Khader

Posted on May 25, 2020

 

 

 

Palestinian Voices: Annexation and its impact on the Christian Community in Israel/Palestine

Thursday, June 4, 2020 | 11am-12pm EDT

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World Quds and Biodiversity days coincide

Posted on May 22, 2020

Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh writes in today’s Palestinian Christians newsletter:

Today/Friday for the first time that I recall is Al-Quds/Jerusalem Day coinciding with World Biodiversity Day. The former is on the last Friday of Ramadan (lunar calendar) when we all should think of the besieged colonized brutalized city under attack almost daily since its western half was ethnically cleansed in 1948 and its eastern half occupied in 1967. World Biodiversity Day reminds us of our connections to all living things. For me Jerusalem symbolizes human diversity (under attack) and earth biodiversity (also under attack).

My 88-year-old mother remembers her school friend (they were both studying to be teachers) Hayah AlBalbisi was killed with students she was teaching at the Western Jerusalem village of Deir Yassin April 1948 (one of >33 massacres committed to drive all Palestinians out). This set the stage for Judaisizing Jerusalem and Palestine. Yet my earliest childhood recollections are of my mother passing our used clothes and food to refugees in the 1960s with a big smile on her face.  My grandmother’s side of the family is from Nazareth, and I wish I could take my mother one more time to visit that occupied town. We will never forget; we will liberate Palestine and refugees will return. Palestine will be returned to what it once was: multiethnic, multicultural, multireligious. My mother and I deeply believe in this human and natural diversity.  She also takes care of nature even at her advanced age. She used to take us as kids to the field collecting wild plants (medicinal, herbal). From her I learned to love diversity in humans and nature.
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The Christians of Qaraqosh and the fight against Coronavirus

Posted on May 22, 2020

It’s like time has stopped… once again.

In the Christian town of Qaraqosh, in northern Iraq, freed in 2017 from the presence of the Islamic state which left desolation and devastation, life has not returned vibrant and active.

Today, what worries the inhabitants of the Nineveh plain, and the whole of Iraq, is the Coronavirus pandemic that has led the city to take on a ghostly air: quiet boulevards, police guarding the main streets, closed churches, curfews. Once again this small Christian community is being put to the test.

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Lebanon’s economy was already reeling. Coronavirus may push it into collapse.

Posted on May 20, 2020

[The Caritas team] of professionals and volunteers are largely Christian, but they come from all of Lebanon’s faith communities and serve all its faith communities—Muslim, Christian and Druze.

Image: An anti-government protester confronts security during a protest against the deepening financial crisis, in Beirut, Lebanon, on April 28. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

An anti-government protester confronts security during a protest against the deepening financial crisis, in Beirut, Lebanon, on April 28. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

by Kevin Clark, America’s chief correspondent and the author of Oscar Romero: Love Must Win Out (Liturgical Press).

In Beirut, Dr. Rita Rhayem and her team at Caritas Lebanon have so far been able to carry on against a mind-numbing series of economic and political catastrophes that have consecutively staggered the nation. Lebanon already hosts large numbers of Iraqi and Palestinian refugees, but since 2011 it has accepted the world’s largest per-capita gathering of Syrian refugees; 1.5 million Syrians are now scattered in communities and makeshift camps across the nation. Since October, citizens exhausted by the government’s ineffectiveness and corruption have taken to the streets in protests that have at times turned violent.

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Geneva Discussion: “Update from the neighbors” discussion

Posted on May 20, 2020

Geneva Initiative

April 26: Young Palestinian activists from Ramallah and East Jerusalem provided a diverse Israeli audience with insights into the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on Palestinian politics, society, and support for cooperation with Israel. The end of the discussion turned to the looming threat of annexation, and how it would impact Palestinians. Ayed Atmawi, program director for the Palestinian Peace Coalition-Geneva Initiative, offered the following insight:

“Even if they annex 5 dunams here or there, to us Palestinians, it’s more than just the end of the negotiations process. It’s the end of hope.

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The Other Side of the Wall by Munther Isaac

Posted on May 16, 2020

 

by Munther Isaac, author of The Other Side of the Wall

Excerpt:

“I am an Arab Palestinian Christian. For many, being a Christian and an Arab (let alone Palestinian) is an oxymoron! Many times in the past, when I introduced myself to a Western Christian, I would get the question “When did you convert?”—assuming that, as an Arab, I must have been Muslim. However, Arab Christianity is not the invention of yesterday. In fact, Arab Christianity predates Islam! The church in the East has a long and very rich history. There were Arab Christians in the very first ecumenical council of churches in Nicaea in 325 CE. In addition, there have been many profound Arab theologians and apologists throughout the centuries—though one is very unlikely to hear or read about them in Western seminaries and Bible schools.

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Ibrahim Ebeid: My Roots Are Deep in Palestine

Posted on May 16, 2020

From my book, MY ROOTS ARE DEEP IN PALESTINE.

“We were living peacefully in our towns and villages until the Zionist entity was created in our homeland and we were brutally evicted from our homes to make room for the colonialist racist settlers. Thousands of our people were murdered and hundreds of our villages were demolished. Those foreigners now are living in our homes, on our farms and we were forced to become refugees scattered around the world. Millions of us are living in miserable camps, waiting patiently for the conscience of the world to wake up and help them return home.”

 

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Daughters of Jerusalem: “Do Not Leave Your Country”

Posted on May 16, 2020

Coronavirus sheltering didn’t stop young artists from gathering online. Recently the Daughters of Jerusalem, members of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, performed this song, composed by Suhail Khoury with lyrics by Fouad Srouji.

The gist of the song is that the people [of Palestine] should not emigrate as long as the olive tree and the lemon tree blossom. All the powers that have invaded the land have eventually left, so you should not emigrate. The law that will prevail in the end is the law of God the Omnipotent.

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Commemorating the Nakba

Posted on May 15, 2020

by Ann Farr, Pax Christi International Board Member

nakba

Today – 15 May 2020 – Palestinians all over the world, commemorate the Nakba, or the Catastrophe. It is the day when the Israeli state was established, without any declared borders and Palestinians were dispossessed.

The human cost of this plan was, and still is, very high. More than 200,000 Palestinians were dispossessed of their properties between 1947 and 1948….  Over 400 Palestinian villages were completely depopulated or destroyed and 800,000 Palestinians became refugees.

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What It’s Like to Celebrate Ramadan Under Coronavirus Lockdown in the West Bank

Posted on May 14, 2020

Salman lives in the West Bank with her husband, Steve Sosebee—founder of a medical relief NGO called the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund—and two children, aged two and 13. Salman spoke to TIME about what the holy month of Ramadan has been like under lockdown in the Palestinian territories.

Image: What It's Like to Celebrate Ramadan Under Coronavirus Lockdown in the West Bank

What It’s Like to Celebrate Ramadan Under Coronavirus Lockdown in the West Bank

by Zeena Salman told to Sanya Mansoor, TIME

We live in the Holy Land, in Ramallah, right next door to a mosque. The mosques are all closed now, although we hear the call to prayer throughout the day. But this time the words bellowing from the loudspeaker are different and it strikes me every single time I hear them. Instead of saying come to prayer in Arabic, they say pray in your homes. The call to prayer is something I’ve heard for my entire life and it’s so innate for Muslims. The first time I heard this new version I got goosebumps because I thought—wait, you can’t change that.

The Palestinian territories are already dealing with occupation by Israel, three generations worth of people living in refugee camps, and now we also have the coronavirus pandemic to consider.

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Archbishop Hilarion Capucci: A Freedom Fighter for Palestine, Loved by Arab Christians and Muslims, A Retrospective

Posted on May 14, 2020

 

Archbishop Hilarion Capucci: A Freedom Fighter for Palestine, Loved by Arab Christians and Muslims, A Retrospective

By: John Mason/Arab America Contributing Writer *

While some dramas during the Ramadan season are racing to promote the idea of ​​normalization with Israel, the series “Hares Al-Quds”–Guardian of Jerusalem, traces the biography of the late Archbishop Hilarion Capucci, a Syrian Melkite Christian cleric, born in Aleppo. The series was written by Hassan Youssef and directed by Basil Al-Khatib, and stars actor Rashid Assaf who played the role of the bishop.

Capucci is a hero to Palestinians and other Arabs of both Christian and Islamic persuasions. For this and other reasons, Capucci is not popular among most Israelis. Although he passed away at age 94 in 2017, he remains famous to this day for his passionate support to the Palestinian and other causes. Capucci’s activities range from helping the U.S. to release American hostages in Iran to his arrest in Israel for allegedly transporting arms to Palestinians in Jerusalem.

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CMEP Summit on June 22: Equal in God’s Eyes

Posted on May 13, 2020

Equal in God's Eyes. CMEP's Annual Advocacy Summit.

Churches for Middle East Peace – We are excited to announce our agenda for Equal in God’s Eyes: Human Rights and Dignity for All in Israel and Palestine. Panels will cover timely topics like COVID-19 and the Middle East and political engagement in Israel/Palestine in the year of an election. Although we are not able to gather together in Washington, DC, the day will still include an advocacy training session where our Senior Director of Advocacy and Government relations, Kyle Cristofalo will provide tips and tools that we can utilize for virtual advocacy. Our hope is that we will all communicate with our Congressional representatives in the days following the summit –either by phone or email–and the training session will give us the opportunity to make a plan for this communication in partnership with other attendees from our individual states or districts. Join us as we advocate for peace, justice, and equality!

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Christian Peacemaker Team: School Semester Report August – December 2019

Posted on May 12, 2020

 

Because of the value that Palestinians place on education, along with the human right of access to education, CPT Palestine has an ongoing commitment to accompany students and teachers and document the human rights violations they face. Constant Israeli military patrols, checkpoints, and settlers in the Old City result in daily human rights violations. Members of CPT live in the community of al-Khalil (Hebron) to document these violations, standing in solidarity with Palestinian efforts to resist the occupation and claim their rights, dignity, and freedom.

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Mourning Another Unnecessary Death

Posted on May 12, 2020

Gush Shalom, founded by Uri Avneri z’l, is an Israeli peace organization

Image: Staff Sergeant Amit Ben Yigal was sacrificed by the State of Israel on the altar of occupation, settlement expansion and annexation plans

Staff Sergeant Amit Ben Yigal was sacrificed by the State of Israel on the altar of occupation, settlement expansion and annexation plans

 

Gush Shalom mourns the unnecessary death of Staff Sergeant Amit Ben Yigal who fell in battle at the village of Ya’bad, where the State of Israel sent him to enforce occupation rule. Amit Ben Yigal joins a very long and painful line of young victims who were sacrificed by the State of Israel on the altar of a 53 years old occupation, on the altar of settlement expansion, on the altar of the annexation plans of the government which is to be inaugurated his week. Every minister and Knesset Member voting for annexation, for settlement expansion, for continued Israeli rule In the territory called in right-wing lingo “Judea and Samaria”, must know that this vote would doom more young people to shed their blood in vain. There is no other solution, no other way to end the bloodshed, but the end of the occupation, the removal of the Israeli Army from all territories occupied in 1967, and the signing of a peace agreement between the sovereign state of Israel and the sovereign state of Palestine.

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Israel threatens to shut down new TV channel for preaching ‘gospel of Jesus’

Posted on May 11, 2020

If Americans Knew Blog

Image: Promotional image for the new Shelanu TV channel (overlay by If Americans Knew).

Promotional image for the new Shelanu TV channel (overlay by If Americans Knew).


Israel has a long history of actions against its Christian minority. Israeli forces have desecrated churches, rabbis have endorsed killing non-Jewish civilians (including children), New Testaments have been burned. While there are many Israelis who have opposed these actions and respect Christians, the fact is that discrimination against Christians is endemic in the Israeli system. Like Muslims, Christians have been persecuted by Israel ever since it was established in 1948…

By Alison Weir, executive director of If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest, and author of Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel

On Wednesday morning one of the headlines on the Fox News homepage was: “Israel threatens to shut down new TV channel for preaching ‘gospel of Jesus.” This was the latest in a long line of anti-Christian actions by Israel.

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Holy Land: Heads of Churches voice concern about Israel’s planned annexation of West Bank land

Posted on May 9, 2020

By: Patriarchs and Heads of the Holy Land Churches – Published: May 07 Thu, 2020

Photo: ©lpj.org

Photo: ©lpj.org

 

A Statement by the Patriarchs and Heads of the Holy Land Churches on
Israeli Unilateral Annexation Plans

(May 7, 2020)

As a result of the stagnation of the Peace Process in the Middle East between the Israelis and Palestinians, an array of plans for Israel to unilaterally annex West Bank land, backed mainly by right-wing factions, raises serious and catastrophic questions about the feasibility of any peaceful agreement to end the decades’ long conflict, one that continues to cost many innocent lives as part of a vicious cycle of human tragedy and injustice.

The Council of Patriarchs and Heads of the Holy Land Churches views such unilateral annexation plans with the utmost concern and calls upon the State of Israel to refrain from such unilateral moves, which would bring about the loss of any remaining hope for the success of the peace process.

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A woman from Nazareth tells the story of her recovery from the Coronavirus

Posted on May 8, 2020

 

Watching Hadal Farraj in her home in Nazareth doesn’t even look like she’s been affected by the Coronavirus. Although the symptoms of the disease were clear she didn’t believe it herself before she received the test results: a real shock. Hadal underwent the test on Palm Sunday, as she had started to feel pain the week before.

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Ramadan in the streets of Jerusalem

Posted on May 8, 2020

[Ramadan 2020 began on Thursday evening, 23rd April, 2020 (according to Saudi Arabia) and will end on Saturday, 23rd May, 2020. Eid al Fitr 2020 is expected to be celebrated on Sunday 24th May, 2020. This is the tentative date as the actual date of commencement of Ramadan 2020 is subject to the sighting of the moon.]

When the sun is still high in the streets of Jerusalem’s Muslim neighborhood, people shop for the evening. Just a stone’s throw from the Damascus Gate you can buy the essentials: vegetables, bread…just a few crescent moons and bright decorations indicate that, despite the Coronavirus, this is a time of celebration.

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Palestinian boy braves surgery alone during coronavirus closure in Israel

Posted on May 7, 2020

 

Image: A doctor kisses the hand of Palestinian boy Hazma Ali Mohammed, 2, who was treated for congenital heart disease in a hospital in Israel and was separated for due months due to the coronavirus disease  (COVID-19) lockdown as he is carried by his mother upon their reunion at a checkpoint near Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. May 7, 2020 (Reuters/Mohamad Torokaman)

A doctor kisses the hand of Palestinian boy Hazma Ali Mohammed, 2, who was treated for congenital heart disease in a hospital in Israel and was separated for due months due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown as he is carried by his mother upon their reunion at a checkpoint near Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. May 7, 2020 (Reuters/Mohamad Torokaman)

HIZME CHECKPOINT, West Bank (Reuters) – Heart surgery is a trial for anyone, and especially for a young child. It was even harder for Hamza Ali Mohammad, as the two-year-old Palestinian had to undergo the procedure in Israel while his family was kept away by coronavirus closures.

He was reunited on Thursday with his mother, who whisked him into her arms after he arrived in a van, escorted by medical personnel, at a checkpoint on the boundary between Israel and the occupied West Bank.

With tears in her eyes she hugged him close and kissed his cheeks.

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Masked and partitioned, worshippers return to Jerusalem’s Western Wall

Posted on May 7, 2020

Image: General view shows the plaza of the Western Wall, in Jerusalem

General view shows the plaza of the Western Wall, in Jerusalem

 

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Worshippers are returning to the Western Wall in Jerusalem as Judaism’s holiest prayer site gradually reopens under eased coronavirus precautions. But now they are themselves being walled-off.

Under revised rules, up to 300 visitors at a time are being allowed to access the Western Wall, a remnant of two ancient Jewish temples in Jerusalem’s Old City. They must wear masks.

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Arab world binges on religious harmony

Posted on May 5, 2020

by the Monitor’s Editorial Board
Christian Science Monitor, May 5, 2020

Image: Bahrani actor Sooad Ali (L) and Kuwati actor Hayat Al Fahad in MCB's Arabic series "Um Haroun"

Bahrani actor Soaad Ali (L) and Kuwati actor Hayat Al Fahad in MCB’s Arabic series “Um Haroun”

The people of the Middle East are quite used to the many attempts over decades to reconcile Jews and Arabs. Yet nothing has been tried on such a mass scale as a drama series being shown on one of the Arab world’s most popular TV channels during this year’s month of Ramadan. Since the series began to air in April over the Saudi-backed MBC station, it has dominated viewership ratings at a time when Arab families gather around a television in the evening.

The drama “Um Haroun,” or “Mother of Aaron,” centers on a Jewish nurse living in an Arabian Gulf country in the 1940s. She and other Jews live peacefully in a village with Muslims and Christians as she lovingly brings health care to all. While the show has plenty of village intrigue, it depicts interreligious harmony before the 1948 creation of modern Israel and the later rise of intolerant Islamic groups such as Al Qaeda.

While the drama was filmed before the COVID-19 outbreak, its producers note its timely message: “Today, the world’s sentiment is no longer ‘us vs. them,’ but more ‘we are all in this together.’”

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Take Action: Say No to Annexation of the West Bank

Posted on May 5, 2020

This action alert is from Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), a coalition of which the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns is a member.

Last week Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the decision to annex much of the West Bank was Israel’s to make. With the announcement of an emergency national unity government, bringing together Prime Minister Netanyahu and his former chief rival, Benny Gantz, Israel is likely to proceed with an annexation vote as early as July 1. Annexation would have a devastating impact on the ground for Palestinians – taking away any realistic opportunity for a Palestinian state and a just resolution to the conflict.

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Samia Khoury: The Corona Lockdown

Posted on May 5, 2020

Property cannot bring back life, but life can bring back material belongings.  –1948 refugee evicted from her home

Photograph: By Unknown author - Oren, Elhanan (1976): On the Road to the City: Operation Danny, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6852263

By Unknown author – Oren, Elhanan (1976): On the Road to the City: Operation Danny, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6852263

by Samia Khoury

As the discussion continues on easing the Lockdown that has paralyzed the whole world, I could not but reflect on a quotation by one of the Palestinian refugees the day she arrived in Birzeit in 1948. The Palestinians from Ramleh and Lydda were evicted by the Israeli army in the hot month of July 1948 and forced to walk for two days before they found refuge in Birzeit and Ramallah.

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