Posts made in March, 2017

Text of Resignation Letter By ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf

Posted on Mar 20, 2017

United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary for the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), Rima Khalaf anounces her resignation. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi

[The following text is the resignation letter submitted by ESWA Executie Secretary Rima Khalaf in response to the formal request by UN Secretary General that ESCWA withdraw the publication of a report that asserts Israel is committing Apartheid. Click here to access the full ESCWA report, which has since been removed from the UN website.]

March 18, 2017

Dear Mr. Secretary-General,

I have carefully considered your message conveyed through the Chef de Cabinet and assure you that at no point have I questioned your right to order the withdrawal of the report from our website or the fact that all of us working in the Secretariat are subject to the authority of its Secretary-General. Nor do I have any doubts regarding your commitment to human rights in general, or your firm position regarding the rights of the Palestinian people. I also understand the concerns that you have, particularly in these difficult times that leave you little choice.

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Another UN Report

Posted on Mar 20, 2017

Samia Khoury

Samia Khoury

by Samia Khoury of East Jerusalem

Once again Israel acts with rage because it cannot cope with the Truth. It is very unfortunate that, the UN has not only failed for the last seventy years to bring justice to the Palestinians, it has also lost its credibility for reacting outrageously against any statements or reports that expose the truth about Israel. The recent report of ESCWA describing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as apartheid led to the resignation of Rima Khalaf, a Jordanian UN diplomat and executive secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia when she was pressured by the UN General Secretary to withdraw the report. Click here for her letter of resignation. I wish more diplomats had this kind of integrity.

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Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land meet in Bethlehem

Posted on Mar 18, 2017

Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land meet in Bethlehem

Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem

BETHLEHEM – On March 14 -15, 2017, the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land met at Casa Nova in Bethlehem. At the heart of the discussions were the Catholic schools of the diocese and the youth of the Holy Land, in preparation for the October 2018 Synod on the theme “Youth, faith and vocational discernment”.

The Ordinaries held their bi-annual meeting in Bethlehem on Tuesday and Wednesday. The discussions were facilitated by the Greek-Catholic Archbishop of Galilee George Bacouni with the participation of the two Apostolic Nuncios of Cyprus, Israel, Palestine and Jordan, Archbishop Lazzarotto and Archbishop Ortega Martin; the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, Archbishop. Pierbattista Pizzaballa and the four Patriarchal Vicars, Bishops William Shomali and Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo , and Fathers David Neuhaus and Jerzy Kraj. Also present at the meeting were Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah and Bishop Emeritus Kamal Bathish; the Maronite Archbishops Joseph Soueif of Cyprus and Moussa El-Hage of the Holy Land; Greek-Catholic Archbishop of Jerusalem Jules-Joseph Zerey; , Greek Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of Akka Bishop Boutros Mouallem; the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton; a representative of the Syrian Catholic Church, Fr. Efrem; and representatives of religious communities.

Fr. Patton, Custos of the Holy Land took advantage of this gathering to invite everyone to the inauguration of the restored Aedicule in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher on March 22.

The discussions then focused on the Catholic youth of the Holy Land and the Catholic schools of the diocese, which are still going through a difficult period, particularly in Israel with a financial crisis that remains unresolved, as the Israeli Ministry of Education has not honored its commitments. School leaders from different countries of the diocese presented a joint paper on the mission and vision of Catholic schools that will be further developed in the coming months before being validated by the bishops.

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Freedom Walk 2017

Posted on Mar 16, 2017

Dr. Frank ROMANO writes:

Freedom Walk 2017

We invite you to contribute to and attendance of the meeting for Freedom in Palestine in several locations in Palestine and Israel listed below. There we will go a peaceful march. To express our freedom of thought and expression and to deliver a message to the world that the people of Palestine deserve to live within the democratic framework. This is about the sanctity of the soil of Palestine. Its people will stay there after the departure of the last occupier. We will continue our steadfastness at all costs arbitrariness and brutality of the Israeli occupation.

And to the dawn of peace, just and lasting peace

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Post Vatican and Al-Azhar Symposium, what is the role of the faithful in interreligious dialogue?

Posted on Mar 16, 2017


Saher Kawas | Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem

VATICAN/CAIRO – Since their rapprochement in May 2016, the Vatican and Al-Azhar saw their first interreligious symposium last February, after several years of restrained relations. In the meanwhile and awaiting fruitful results, the faithful search for their role and place in interreligious dialogue.

On February 22- 23, 2017, a symposium entitled “The role of Al-Azhar Al- Sharif and of the Vatican in confronting the phenomena of fanaticism, extremism and violence in the name of religion” took place at Al-Azhar University in Cairo.

As an influential Islamic institution, Al-Azhar oversees a national network of schools, where a secular and religious curriculum is taught to two million students, and runs the Islamic Research Complex, which is in charge of issuing edicts that pertain to the public interest.

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Archaeologists discover a treasure-laden shipwreck from the Crusades

Posted on Mar 16, 2017

Coins are the key to linking the wreck to the fleeing Crusaders (Philippe Bohstrom)

Jeva Lange | The Week

The year 1291 A.D. was a dark year for Christian Crusaders in the Holy Land. When the Crusader capital of Jerusalem was lost to Saladin in 1187, the Haifa Bay port of Acre became the new landing site for European soldiers, knights, and horses as well as an international trading hub for the export of sugar, spices, glass, and textiles back to Europe. But by the spring of 1291, an Egyptian sultan, Al-Ashraf Khalil, had moved in with 100,000 cavalry and foot soldiers to banish the Crusaders from the Holy Land once and for all.

Marine archeologists have now discovered the remains of a treasure-laden Crusader ship that they have reason to believe was one of many vessels that tried to flee Acre when the sultan stormed the city, Haaretz reports. The wood on the ship dates back to between 1062 and 1250 A.D. but among the keel and planks that remain the archaeologists also discovered 30 gold coins.

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Bishop Pizzaballa’s pastoral visit to Cyprus: “Jerusalem is the symbol of our unity”

Posted on Mar 16, 2017

Myriam Ambroselli | Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem

CYPRUS – From March 11-13, 2017, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, visited the Cyprus parishes, priests and Knights of the Holy Sepulcher. There were many moments of fraternity, sharing, and ecumenical interaction.

The two-day visit began with a Mass in the parish of Nicosia, one of the four Latin parishes of Cyprus. The small island of the Diocese of Jerusalem actually has three parishes run by the Franciscans (Nicosia, Larnaca and Limassol) and a parish run by the Community of the Incarnate Word in Paphos. Mass in the parish of Nicosia was an opportunity for the Archbishop to recall how “the Patriarchate includes different realities, Jordan and Cyprus, for example, but Jerusalem unites us, Jerusalem is the symbol of our unity.”

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An “invisible” Catholic organization celebrates 90 years of humanitarian work

Posted on Mar 16, 2017

A religious sister is seen comforting a sick woman in 2016 at Snehadam Old Age Home in Gurgaon, India. Catholic Near East Welfare Association is celebrating 90 years of service to Eastern Catholic churches and the poor in the Middle East, northeast Africa, India and Eastern Europe. (CNS photo/courtesy John E. Kozar, CNEWA)

Beth Griffin | Catholic News Service in America Magazine | March 15, 2017

An “invisible” Catholic organization celebrated 90 years of quiet service to the poor in the Middle East, northeast Africa, India and Eastern Europe.

Msgr. John E. Kozar, secretary of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, said the agency maintains a low profile because it works through and with the local church.

“They know best how to represent the face of Christ. We trust their experience, holiness and knowledge about how to govern and care for their people,” he said in a Feb 28 interview with Catholic News Service.

The mission of the organization is to serve and accompany Eastern Catholic churches in pastoral and humanitarian activities, generally at the level of the diocese or eparchy, Msgr. Kozar said. A secondary mission is to share the needs of the Eastern churches with people in North America who may be confused about where Eastern churches fit in the larger Catholic picture.

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Urgent! Help protect Palestinian shepherds! Thursday at the Jordan Valley with Taayush

Posted on Mar 15, 2017

gush shalomAdam Keller of Gush Shalom writes:

A group of volunteers heads out every Thursday to the Jordan Valley, where the Israeli Occupation has been systematically demolishing Palestinian villages, restricting access to water supplies and grazing lands, and incessantly limiting Palestinian’s freedom of movement.

This coming Thursday, March 16, we will be heading again to our activity in several locations in the area, accompany Palestinian farmers and shepherds to their lands and help them stand up for their rights. 

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Iraqi refugees put pieces of their lives back together in ‘City of Mosaics’

Posted on Mar 14, 2017

Iraqi refugees apply mosaic skills gained within the Living Mosaic project in Madaba (Photo by Rula Samain)


By Rula Samain | The Jordan times | Mar 12,2017

MADABA — Aimed at helping people displaced by war and terror rebuild their lives, a project in the “City of Mosaics” is training Iraqi refugees with skills to face future challenges.

The Living Mosaic project in Madaba, 30km southwest of Amman, is financially supported by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem in cooperation with the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher of Germany, according to Father Imad Twal, a Catholic priest in Jerusalem.

The initiative teaches Iraqi refugees to design and craft mosaics in order to earn a living.

Nihad, not her real name, is one of thousands of Iraqi Christians who took refuge in Jordan after the Daesh terror group took over parts of Iraq in 2014, forcing them to leave their country or risk death.

“I used to be a biology teacher and I loved it. Now I am a refugee, broken, tired and very much desperate, and I say that on behalf of everyone I know,” the 37-year-old told The Jordan Times.

For Nihad and 15 others, life has become a little more bearable since joining the Living Mosaic project.

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