Posts made in August, 2015

Palestinian cinema provides contextual, honest imagery to whole world

Posted on Aug 29, 2015

David Ben Gurion

As a literary work it isn’t much. But as a piece of propaganda, it’s the best thing ever written about Israel. –David Ben Gurion (1886-1973), first Prime Minister of Israel, referring to the book Exodus by Leon Uris

by Ra’fat Aldajani

(National Catholic Reporter) August 25, 2015 – Movies have always played an important role not only in breaking through cultural taboos but also in helping shape the identity of a people to themselves and to the world at large. The film “Exodus” starring Paul Newman and based on the 1958 book by Leon Uris, had profound and lasting effects on American Jewry, and American public opinion.

According to Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, the book and movie succeeded in “tailoring, altering and radically sanitizing the history of the founding of the State of Israel to flatter the fantasies and prejudices of American Jews.” Israel’s founding Prime Minister David Ben Gurion admitted as much. “As a literary work it isn’t much. But as a piece of propaganda, it’s the best thing ever written about Israel.” “Exodus” validated Jewish peoplehood, swelled American Jewish pride in Israel and “Americanized” the causes of Zionism and Israel.

On the other hand, according to prominent Jewish-American journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, “it created the impression that all Arabs are savages. This was most unhelpful, and the lingering effects of [the book’s] sometimes-cartoonish portrayal of Israel’s founding can still be seen in the opinions of the more unthinking among Israel’s supporters.”

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Iraqi archbishop: Plight of fleeing Christians has challenged his faith

Posted on Aug 29, 2015

Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Bashar Warda of Irbil, Iraq, concelebrates an Aug. 23 Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. The archbishop visited several U.S. cities and discussed his experience with the flood of Christian refugees to Irbil following the Islamic State’s capture of Mosul and the Ninevah Plain (CNS photo/Sean Gallagher, The Criterion).

I don’t understand what [God] is doing when I look at what has happened in the region. I quarrel with him every day. –Archbishop Bashar Warda

by Sean Gallagher , Mark Zimmermann, Catholic News Service

(Catholic News Service) Indianapolis, August 27, 2015 – Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Bashar Warda of Irbil, Iraq, placed his face in his hands when asked how his faith has been challenged and changed in the crisis he has helped manage over the past year.

He said he has outwardly encouraged the Christians whom he welcomed to Irbil when they fled Islamic State, but within his heart he would frequently “quarrel with God.”

“I don’t understand what he is doing when I look at what has happened in the region,” Archbishop Warda said. “I quarrel with him every day.”

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Christian schools: “positive” meeting with President Rivlin. But the crisis remains open

Posted on Aug 29, 2015

Israeli-Arab fourth-grade students pray in Aramaic during language class in 2012 at Jish Elementary School in Israel. Dozens of Christian schools in Israel may be shutting their doors this coming school year due to increasing restrictions by the Israeli government, Christian educators warn. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill)

The idea of making Christian schools public schools is seen as the end of Christian education, a serious blow to Christian communities of the Holy Land

(Agenzia Fides) Jerusalem, August 27, 2015 – The Secretary General of Christian schools in Israel interprets his meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to discuss the crisis facing Christian schools in Israel as “a positive step”. Nevertheless, according to the co-ordinating body the solution of the crisis “requires further negotiations” and therefore “schools will remain closed until further notice”. The declaration of suspension of school activities is confirmed in the press release of the Secretariat also widespread in the media of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

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Bearing Witness: Stories from the Holy Land

Posted on Aug 29, 2015

A Syrian girl looks out from a UNICEF tent in an informal settlement near Amman, Jordan, March 14.

These stories take me on a pilgrimage that helps me draw nearer to my faith and my understanding of Jesus, both historical and living.

by Elena Habersky

(America Magazine, the National Catholic Review) Amman, August 31-September 7, 2015 – I never realized the power of stories until I began working with refugees in East Amman. The stories I hear vary. Some are extremely happy, filled with vivid memories of times that were present with love and laughter, enough to fill a large Middle Eastern sitting room. These are the stories where you see people’s faces light up, their bright brown eyes becoming as large as a full moon hanging in the desert sky to light the secrets of the mysterious terrain that would otherwise be clothed in darkness. When people tell these stories, their whole bodies move, contouring to the universe in a way that almost transports them back in time. It is a place they desperately want to go back to—and they want to take you, too. Yet it will always be secret, always be special to them. These are the things they can carry when everything else they carry will be a burden.

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Study: 15% of West Bank Settlers Are American

Posted on Aug 28, 2015

Israel West Bank Settlements

An Israeli protester holds a placard and a flag during a demonstration against a court decision to demolish housing units in the Jewish settlement of Beit El, outside the Supreme Court in Jerusalem July 8, 2015.Reuters/Ammar Awad

 …the new figures reveal that the settlement enterprise in the West Bank is not only an internal issue but “an international problem    –Peace Now

by Jack Moore

(Newsweek) August 28, 2015 – New research has revealed that 15 percent of the total Jewish settler population in the occupied West Bank are American nationals.

In a presentation to promote a forthcoming book, Oxford University scholar Sara Yael Hirschhorn revealed that approximately 60,000 Americans Jews live in Jewish outposts out of a total population of approximately 400,000 settlers in occupied territory, excluding East Jerusalem. The figure for the number of American nationals living in the West Bank was previously unknown.

“This provides hard evidence that this constituency is strikingly over-represented, both within the settler population itself and within the total population of Jewish American immigrants in Israel,” she said at the Limmud conference in Jerusalem, reported Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz.

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Natalie Portman says Jewish Community focuses too much on holocaust

Posted on Aug 28, 2015

We need to be reminded that hatred exists at all times and reminds us to be empathetic to other people that have experienced hatred also. –Natalie Portman

by Antonia Blumberg, Associate Religion Editor, The Huffington Post

(Huffington Post) August 27, 2015 – Natalie Portman revealed in a recent interview that she believes her childhood Jewish education placed too much emphasis on the Holocaust, arguing that the Jewish community must focus more on other injustices being perpetrated around the globe.

“I think a really big question the Jewish community needs to ask itself, is how much at the forefront we put Holocaust education. Which is, of course, an important question to remember and to respect, but not over other things,” Portman told The Independent.

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A Muslim and a Jew meet on a US college campus — and it’s beautiful

Posted on Aug 28, 2015

Bridges is a student-run club that works in conjunction with the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life and the Islamic Center at NYU to bring together knowledgeable and passionate Jewish and Muslim students to engage in constructive and comparative discussions of our faiths. We strive to learn from each other so that we me may put aside notions of “Us vs. Them” and responsibly confront both our similarities and differences in an attempt to achieve a mutual understanding and sense of shared purpose.

by Paul Brandeis Raushenbush
Executive Editor Of Global Spirituality and Religion, The Huffington Post

(Huffington Post) August 28, 2015 – Before Shanjida and Gavriella came to New York University they had never met someone like each other. That’s because Shanjida is a Muslim and Gavriella is a Jew — and they came to college from two religious communities that can, and often do, find themselves in conflict.

But what these two young women chose to do instead is beautiful.

On this week’s ALL TOGETHER, host Paul Raushenbush goes back to college to talk to students about the rewards of deep interfaith engagement, even when it is difficult. Shanjida and Gavriella are part of a group at NYU called Bridges dedicated to interfaith dialogue between Jews and Muslims.   We will hear how it changed their lives.

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Adam Keller: Money to buy bulldozers

Posted on Aug 28, 2015

Photo: ‘Aref Daraghmeh, B’Tselem

With the settlements, Israel has its own anti-democratic monster   –Headline in a Dutch newspaper

by Adam Keller, spokesperson for Gush Shalom

(Crazy Country) Tel Aviv, August 22, 2015 – We spent the last few weeks at a picturesque Dutch town, where on the way to shopping in the local supermarket we often had to wait for the bridge over the canal to come down after the boats have passed. Even that quiet and peaceful region had once been the scene of wars and bloody conflicts. During a cruise on a canal which had once been part of the fortifications, the guide told us: “Following the massacre which the Spanish army perpetrated here in 1572, in which most of the town’s inhabitants perished, it was rebuilt as a fortress town. Mighty fortifications were erected, a double system walls and ramparts and moats. Everywhere, artillery pieces were placed, ready to pour a deadly hail of fire in every direction and at every angle from which an enemy army might arrive. For hundreds of years, almost half of the city’s inhabitants were soldiers.” All this is, of course, ancient history. As we could see, nowadays the town’s boys climb the ancient cannons and on hot days they jump the ramparts for a long refreshing swim along the moats.

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Update: Holy See Says It Will Accept UN Decision on Flying Observer State Flags

Posted on Aug 28, 2015

Palestinian flagsPalestine Presents Draft Resolution Before Papal Visit

By Zenit Staff Reporter

( Vatican City, August 28, 2015 – The Holy See released a statement this afternoon regarding the controversy surrounding the Palestinian flag at the United Nations.

The statement says:

In accordance with the rules governing the General Assembly no Member or Observer State is entitled to oppose the tabling of a draft resolution by a Member State. In light of this, the Holy See does not object to the tabling of a draft resolution concerning the raising of the flags of Observer States at the UN headquarters and offices.

The Holy See, however, notes the long established praxis and tradition of the UN, since 1945, whereby only flags of member States are displayed at the UN headquarters and offices, and will accept whatever decision that the UN may wish to take in this regard in the future.

From the Vatican, 28 August 2015


Palestine presented a draft resolution Thursday to raise the flags of non-member observer states at the United Nations.

Initial reports of the resolution noted that in first drafts, Palestine had included a proposal that the flag of the Holy See also be raised. The Holy See, as well as Palestine, has the status of non-member observer state at the UN.

The initiative comes as Pope Francis prepares to address a high-level gathering of the 193-nation U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 25.

The Holy See already had taken a distance from the resolution, before today’s statement. “The Holy See does not intend to co-sponsor a draft resolution that the State of Palestine may eventually present on the matter,” a note circulated earlier this week said.

The Holy See does recognize the State of Palestine and earlier this year, the two parties signed a comprehensive agreement.

The UN General Assembly granted Palestine non-member observer state status in November 2012.

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Cremisan Valley: legalities and livelihoods

Posted on Aug 28, 2015

Palestinian Christians pray at an open air Mass in the Cremisan Valley - AFP

Palestinian Christians pray at an open air Mass in the Cremisan Valley – AFP

…all the statements that were released from the various Bishops’ Conferences had a “persuasive authority, just like the International Courts of Justice did years ago, in order to mobilize public opinion to the fact there is something radically wrong.    –Dr Harry Hagopian is an international lawyer and Middle East and inter-faith advisor to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales

(Vatican Radio) August 28, 2015 – Concern and dismay continues to be voiced over the construction of a separation barrier in the Cremisan Valley which is underway and has already uprooted trees in an ancient olive grove.

The EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and a number of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences, including the Bishops of Germany, the US, South Africa and England and Wales have stressed that the wall will severely restrict access of 58 Palestinian families to their agricultural land and profoundly affect their livelihoods.

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