Seeking truth and justice

Questioning the Covenant

Posted on Jun 20, 2020

June 17, 2020

Image: The steeple of a Franciscan convent in the Aida refugee camp, near the Israeli separation wall in the West Bank. Photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler

The steeple of a Franciscan convent in the Aida refugee camp, near the Israeli separation wall in the West Bank. Photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler


by Arianna Skibell

IN 2009, Reverend Mae Elise Cannon, on her first trip to the Holy Land, stood on the Allenby Bridge waiting to cross into Jericho from Jordan, where she and her church group had just explored Petra. The evangelical pastor approached the Israeli border patrol agent, who asked if she intended to travel into the West Bank. Cannon was flummoxed. She knew she was headed to Bethlehem, where Jesus lived and ministered. But the West Bank?

“I said ‘no,’ because I didn’t even know what it was,” Cannon recalled.

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The icons of the Bethlehem artist Johnny Andonieh

Posted on Jun 19, 2020

The artist Johnny Andonieh, from Bethlehem, has always been fascinated by icons of the Christian tradition. He is very skilled in making these objects so that they become an instrument of veneration and devotion on the part of the faithful. But this ability of his would never have seen the light of day without the help of Father Seraphim, responsible for the Monastery of Mar Saba for more than fifty years until his death in 2003.

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Church leaders across the globe express deep concern over Israeli plan to annex parts of West Bank

Posted on Jun 18, 2020

17 June 2020

Church leaders from across the world are expressing their grave concern over the government of Israel’s plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.

Archbishop Justin Welby and Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster published a “Joint Statement on Annexation” on 12 June, delivered to both the Israeli ambassador and the British prime minister. Welby and Nichols expressed their opposition to any move by the government of Israel to annex West Bank territory after 1 July 2020.

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Annexation is happening, and Congress wants us to pay for it

Posted on Jun 14, 2020

Jewish Voice for Peace: Across the country, Black Americans are leading an uprising and forcing the nation to fundamentally reckon with itself.

In every state, every city, and countless small towns, protestors are building on decades of work by Black organizers and demanding a profound change: taking the $115 billion dollars we spend every year on violent, racist, militarized policing, and instead investing in Black communities in the form of healthcare, social services, public infrastructure, and education.

As we at JVP Action learn how to best support this transformative struggle for justice, we are also asking why our nation funds not only violence in the U.S. but also violence abroad – including Israeli oppression of Palestinians.

We are weeks away from the possibility of Israel annexing one third of the West Bank – and Congress is working to push through a bill that would allow the U.S. to send the Israeli military even more money.  

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Coronavirus impact in Jericho, the world’s oldest city

Posted on Jun 12, 2020

The tourism sector in the Holy Land is completely paralyzed due to the restrictions imposed by the Coronavirus in recent months. Like the other Palestinian localities that live thanks to this sector, the city of Jericho has been greatly affected by the effects of the pandemic, because internal and external tourism is the backbone of its economy.

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An ancient prayer to Our Lady

Posted on Jun 12, 2020

In Egypt, a fragment of papyrus dating back to the third century has been found with this prayer, which used to be recited in the past by persecuted Christians.


There is an ancient prayer, recited in the past in difficult times by Christians, to which people of different languages and backgrounds still recur today to invoke the powerful intercession of Mary.


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Americans and Israelis in Solidarity : SAY NO TO ANNEXATION

Posted on Jun 11, 2020

Americans for Peace Now and our Israeli sister organization Peace Now (Shalom Achshav) are raising our voices in solidarity and asking Israelis and Americans who care about peace to sign on to this letter.

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Tell Congress: Divest from Violence Invest in Justice!

Posted on Jun 9, 2020

From the U.S. to Palestine, we strive for freedom and justice for all people. As Black organizers have argued for decades, struggles for freedom can only advance by first stopping the flow of our tax dollars to racism, oppression, and violence.

While Christian Zionist lobbies like CUFI push for racist policies in the US and Israel, we stand in solidarity with Black and Palestinian organizers. In coalition with the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights and others we are calling upon our representatives to Divest from Violence!

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Women’s work against the virus in Bethlehem

Posted on Jun 6, 2020

The difficult economic situation caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, the lack of pilgrims in Bethlehem and the consequent closure of commercial and tourist activities have led to an increase in unemployment in the city.

The project “Working Women Against Virus COVID 19”, created by FAI (Fondation Assistance Internationale) and developed by the association “Pro Terra Sancta”, was created to address this situation in Bethlehem.

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George Floyd and Eyad Hallak

Posted on Jun 4, 2020

Image: “When George Floyd was Murdered There Was Outrage – When Iyad Hallak, an Autistic Palestinian was Murdered, No one Said Anything.” Tony Greenstein’s Blog

“When George Floyd was Murdered There Was Outrage – When Iyad Hallak, an Autistic Palestinian was Murdered, No one Said Anything.” Tony Greenstein’s Blog


I am not sure how many Americans realize that the American police have been getting a lot of training in Israel.

by Samia Khoury

The scene of an American policeman pinning down George Floyd, an African American was a very familiar scene for us in Palestine. The sight of our young men facing the brutality of the Israeli police is so common, that it hardly hits the news any more unless somebody by chance was there to document the incident by video. But this past week it was ironic that the shooting of an autistic young Palestinian Eyad Hallak which coincided with the murder of George Floyd was actually documented, and so was the yelling and pleading of his teacher to stop shooting but to no avail. Had the police thought that they were under threat, as they usually claim, why not shoot at his legs. But no, the policy these days is “shoot to kill.”


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Israeli forces shoot dead two Palestinians in past 24 hours, one disabled

Posted on Jun 4, 2020

Israel Palestine News


If Americans Knew: Palestinian and Israeli media report that Israeli forces have shot dead two Palestinians in the past 24 hours, one of them disabled, and wounded others. (For a timeline of Palestinians and Israelis killed go here.)


Image:"When George Floyd was Murdered There Was Outrage – When Iyad Hallak, an Autistic Palestinian was Murdered, No one Said Anything." Tony Greenstein's Blog

“When George Floyd was Murdered There Was Outrage – When Iyad Hallak, an Autistic Palestinian was Murdered, No one Said Anything.” Tony Greenstein’s Blog

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George Floyd’s Injustice: A Microcosm in all Cultures

Posted on Jun 4, 2020


By: Leila Diab/Arab America Contributing Writer

On May 25, 2020, as people all over America watched their TV, a very sad and emotional situation unfolded in Minnesota and across the nation. They witnessed the most despicable, abhorrent and unjustifiable act of murder of an African American man, while handcuffed, pleading for his breathe while a police officer held him down with his knee on his neck. It didn’t matter that he kept pleading for his life and his breathe. With no aid or help to save him, George Floyd perished. May he rest in peace.

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Prayers for Peace (P4P): Eastertide Meditations with The V. Rev. Fr. Hrant Tahanian

Posted on Jun 3, 2020


Calls to Spiritual Activism from the Middle East

In this session, Kyle Cristofalo, CMEP’s Senior Director of Advocacy and Government Relations, steps in for Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon to speak with The V. Rev. Fr. Hrant Tahanian. V. Rev. Fr. Hrant Tahanian was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec. His great-grandparents were survivors of the Armenian Genocide. After graduating from Soorp Hagop Armenian School in Montreal, he continued his studies in Pure & Applied Sciences at Collège Montmorency, in Laval. He then travelled to the Armenian Orthodox Seminary in Lebanon (the only such institution that survived the total destruction of Western-Armenia, and relocated to Lebanon), where he finished his B.A. in Armenological & Theological Studies. After being ordained a priest, according to the 17 centuries old tradition of the Armenian Church, he served in the Catholicosate of Cilicia in Lebanon, as director of the Cilicia Museum. In 2012, he was appointed to be the pastor of St. Gregory Armenian Church in Vancouver, where he served the community for 5 years, whilst working on a M.A. in Theology at the Vancouver School of Theology (UBC). In 2017, he was appointed to be the Ecumenical and Inter-religious Officer the Catholicosate of Cilicia in Lebanon, where he now lives.

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Sabeel: Kumi Now Online

Posted on Jun 1, 2020

We at Sabeel hope you are doing well in the midst of this global pandemic. We would like to let you know about a new initiative we are launching this month called Kumi Now Online. It is be an informative webinar with speakers sharing about their organizations work and the current context here in Palestine and Israel. Would you help us promote on your website and throughout your networks?

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Four ‘Blank’ Dead Sea Scrolls Actually Have Text

Posted on May 31, 2020

A new analysis revealed what scientists believe is a passage from the book of Ezekiel.

The 16 purported fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Museum of the Bible might be fakes, but at least four such fragments housed at the University of Manchester in the UK are the real deal. For decades, those fragments were presumed to be blank, but a new analysis has revealed the existence of actual text, most likely a passage from the book of Ezekiel.

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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


“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


“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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