Seeking truth and justice

Maryknoll: Call on Congress to realign support for a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis

Posted on Nov 17, 2018

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Recent violence between Gaza and Israel is a tragic indicator of the need for a just and lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis. Sadly, however, U.S. policy is working against such an outcome.

In a November 14 ecumenical statement, 16 U.S. Christian leaders, including the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, outline developments in U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine since the beginning of the Trump Administration, noting their negative impact on Palestinians and the prospects for peace for Israel and Palestine. The statement was sent to all members of Congress and to the Trump administration.

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Maria Khoury: Remembering Arafat, Welcoming Advent

Posted on Nov 15, 2018

Dear Friends of Taybeh,

Wishing all of you a most blessed Holy Advent during this sacred time of year while preparing for the Birth of our Lord and Savior. I hope and pray you might think about future pilgrimage to the Birthplace of our Lord and include our most ancient Taybeh village.

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MECC general secretary said “reinforce wavering stability, and build steadfast and fair peace”

Posted on Nov 15, 2018

Image: World Council of Churches

World Council of Churches, 15 November 2018

The Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) participated in a Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies on “Inclusive Citizenship in the Middle East and North Africa.” The forum was held 14-15 November.

The forum, held in partnership with the Wilton Park Association, affiliated to the British Foreign Ministry and Adyan Foundation, brought together over 50 prominent Muslim, Christian and other religious scholars from the Middle East, along with a number of policy makers from 11 countries around the world.

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Birzeit University wins prestigious Yasser Arafat Achievement Award

Posted on Nov 12, 2018

Over a century, what began as a small girls’ school in Birzeit town has become the most prestigious Palestinian university, transforming Palestinian higher education through its impact on community awareness, culture and resistance. Birzeit University has been a thorn in the side of the occupation, insisting on playing its role of enlightenment and creating a multicultural Palestinian society on the campus grounds. (Birzeit University website)

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Birzeit University has won the prestigious Yasser Arafat Achievement Award for 2018 in a special ceremony, on Saturday, at the Ramallah Cultural Palace, in central occupied West Bank, commemorating the 14th anniversary of the death of the late Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat.

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The road from T. E. Lawrence’s Damascus to Syria’s civil war

Posted on Nov 11, 2018

In a reign of terror that includes land theft, kidnappings, rape and torture, the ethnic cleansing of Syria’s Christians remains curiously ignored by the West’s political and media classes.

by Christopher Sandford November 10, 2018 | AMERICA, the Jesuit Review

Image T.E. Lawrence (spectator.co.uk)

T.E. Lawrence (spectator.co.uk)

“Arab horsemen from distant Hejaz today galloped in triumph through the streets of Damascus,” The London Guardian reported on Oct. 1, 1918. “As the sun was setting over the mosques and spires, Major T. E. Lawrence, the young British officer whose tactical guidance has ensured the success of the Arab revolt, drove through the lines in an armoured car. One Arab rider waved his head-dress and shouted, ‘Damascus salutes you.’”

It is a stirring account, although The Guardian also issued a salutary warning about the future administrative control of the region liberated as part of the Arab uprising against the Turks during the closing days of World War I.

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Global Catholic tech: Online Arabic catechetical program unites Middle East Catholics

Posted on Nov 9, 2018

By Courtney Grogan

Vatican City, Oct 21, 2018 / 01:00 pm (CNA).- A bishop from Lebanon shared at the 2018 Synod of Bishops how his online catechesis program in Arabic has helped him to unite young Catholics across the Middle East.

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Scrolls and biblical manuscripts on display at the Custody of the Holy Land

Posted on Nov 9, 2018

Nov. 7, 2018 – An exhibition on the Bible hosted by the Custody of the Holy Land, brings together almost 40 parchments, manuscripts and ancient books.

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Kafr Bar’am and the Christian tradition that is kept alive

Posted on Nov 9, 2018

We are in Upper Galilee, three kilometers from the border with Lebanon. The small village of Kafr Bar’am was the refuge of the Maronite Christians who arrived mainly from northern Lebanon seeking refuge. They left their country because of the wars, the difficult conditions of life and the persecutions suffered during the Ottoman rule. Initially, they were simple workers. Progressively, they bought land and managed to settle in the region.

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Curious facts about the Old City of Nazareth

Posted on Nov 9, 2018

Nov. 6, 2018 – Old City of Nazareth. Within walking distance of the Basilica of the Annunciation, we enter the Arab market and here we find a place rich in cultural heritage, opportunities to learn about the daily life of its inhabitants and so to dive into the history of Christianity.

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“The Jewish War”: an international symposium in Jerusalem

Posted on Nov 9, 2018

Nov. 5, 2018 – Gathering together the major experts from Canada, United States, Europe and Israel and the French biblical school of archaeology of Jerusalem, the École Biblique, creates an international congress on the topic of “Rethinking the Jewish War” (66-74 CE)

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Three ways Catholics can respond to anti-Jewish violence

Posted on Nov 5, 2018

Note: The following was published in AMERICA, the Jesuit Review. So far there are three comments by readers of AMERICA.

Image: A young man on Oct. 29 at a makeshift memorial outside the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. (CNS photo/Cathal McNaughton, Reuters)

A young man on Oct. 29 at a makeshift memorial outside the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. (CNS photo/Cathal McNaughton, Reuters)

by John J. Conley, S.J.

For us it is a family matter.

When I first heard of the massacre at the synagogue in Squirrel Hill, I contacted my sister-in-law. Patti is a Jewish woman originally from the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. For decades, her family lived several blocks from the Tree of Life Synagogue. They occasionally attended services there; other relatives and friends were congregants. We waited to hear the names of the victims announced by the police on Saturday night.

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The normalization dilemma

Posted on Nov 4, 2018

Yoav Peckby Yoav Peck, Director of the Sulha Peace Project | The Times of Israel

For 18 years, the Sulha Peace Project has brought together Palestinians from across the territories with Israelis from around the country, in order to hold people-to-people dialogue and solidarity-building. Of late, many of our Palestinian activists have endured harsh anti-normalization criticism from their friends and relatives, and some have been dragged into long, humiliating interrogations at the hands of Palestinian security. The director of a site where we held a recent gathering was harassed by the Palestinian Authority for renting us space.

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Rabbi Alissa Wise: How do we want future generations to live?

Posted on Nov 2, 2018

Image: Rabbi Alissa Wise, Deputy Director

Rabbi Alissa Wise, Deputy Director

What a searing week. I still can barely wrap my head around the shooting in Pittsburgh. And then this morning I woke up to the news that someone sprayed disgusting antisemitic slogans across a major synagogue in Brooklyn – a place my friends and I have met and prayed.

We are in a moment of profound moral reckoning as a community – as a society, even as a planet. We are being challenged to answer: how do we want the future generations to live?

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Israel/Palestine: Protecting Palestinian village

Posted on Nov 2, 2018

Israeli authorities postponed the demolition of the Bedouin village Khan-al-Ahmar as Palestinians striked along the West Bank.

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‘Return to Palestine’ tours once more!

Posted on Oct 28, 2018

In a comic and tragic way, Return to Palestine tells the story of American born Palestinian Jad who returns to his homeland. Here, he discovers Palestine is different from what is told on the news. The physical performance takes place at just a small part of the stage, which symbolises the restricted space of the Palestinian people. The play is based on true stories of life in Palestine, gathered through playback theatre during The Freedom Theatre’s Freedom Bus ride. It was originally produced in 2016, directed by Micaela Miranda.

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Church leaders in the Holy Land visit Khan El Ahmar community in solidarity, prayer

Posted on Oct 25, 2018

Image: Church leaders in the Holy Land visit Khan El Ahmar community in solidarity, prayer (Photo: Yusef Daher/WCC)

Church leaders in the Holy Land visit Khan El Ahmar community in solidarity, prayer (Photo: Yusef Daher/WCC)

World Council of Churches – On 22 October, church leaders in the Holy Land organized an ecumenical visit to the threatened Bedouin community of Khan El Ahmar. They shared Biblical prayers including references to the beatitudes from the sermon on the mount as a response to injustice, and as words of comfort to the people under threat of displacement.

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Wallwritings: Israel’s Uri Avnery Dies Too Soon at 94

Posted on Oct 25, 2018

Image: Avnery is fourth from left, standing next to Palestine President Yasir Arafat, greeting a crowd from a window in Arafat’s Ramallah, Palestine, compound (Jamal Aruri/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

Avnery is fourth from left, standing next to Palestine President Yasir Arafat, greeting a crowd from a window in Arafat’s Ramallah, Palestine, compound (Jamal Aruri/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)


by James M. Wall

Uri Avnery died at age 94 on August 20, 2018, two weeks after a stroke sent him to a Tel Aviv hospital.

He died too soon. Israel, Palestine, and the world, still need his passionate voice and stern guidance. We also need his Jewish presence at events like the one shown above.

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Blessing of the new Christian Information Center

Posted on Oct 19, 2018

Christian Media CenterSince 1973 the Christian Information Center offers a steady service to pilgrims. On Monday, October 15, the blessing of the building in a whole new look, took place. Pilgrims, and also the many tourists who flock to Jerusalem will be able to enjoy the first stages of a multimedia exhibition by way of modern technology.

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Acts of vandalism at the cemetery of the Salesian Monastery of Beit Jamal

Posted on Oct 19, 2018

Christian Media CenterNew acts of vandalism against the local Christian community. 28 graves in the Salesian cemetery of the monastery of Beit Jamal have been destroyed, a few kilometers from Jerusalem.

An episode that takes place just 2 years after a similar act of vandalism, that hit the same cemetery and a year after the desecration of the church of the same monastery.

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Holy Land: Catholic Justice and Peace Commission condemn demolition of Khan al-Ahmar

Posted on Oct 19, 2018

Image: Catholic Justice and Peace Commission released statement on demolition of Khan al-Ahmar

People gather for evening prayer in Khan al Ahmar, October 2018. Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC

The Justice and Peace Commission of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land has issued the following statement strongly condemning the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar.

“After a long period of legal struggle, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the Israeli Authorities are entitled to demolish the Bedouin village at Khan al-Ahmar and areas nearby and transfer the residents to an area near Jericho,” the statement reads. “Many of these people were already displaced after the 1948 War and are now, once again, being violently uprooted to make way for more illegal Israeli settlements.”

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Chaldean cardinal says promised U.S. aid for Iraq hasn’t come

Posted on Oct 17, 2018

Image: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad, Iraq, show the signed agreement on the Hungarian government's contribution of funds for restoring the houses of Iraqi. (CNS photo/Noemi Bruzak, EPA)

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad, Iraq, show the signed agreement on the Hungarian government’s contribution of funds for restoring the houses of Iraqi. (CNS photo/Noemi Bruzak, EPA)

… he suggested that the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which gave way to years of instability that facilitated the birth of the Islamic State group, was responsible for the exodus of Iraqi Christians from communities that have existed since the time of Jesus.

Nicole Winfield – Associated Press |Susannah George – Associated Press

America, the Jesuit Review October 17, 2018

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The head of Iraq’s Chaldean Catholic Church complained on Tuesday that promised U.S. aid for religious minorities in Iraq hasn’t materialized, issuing an unusual public rebuke of the United States on the same day Washington announced a new infusion of assistance.

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Christian Peacemaker Team: Occupation of Palestinian Homes

Posted on Oct 16, 2018

Image: Most recent settler occupation of Palestinian homes

Most recent settler occupation of Palestinian homes

Christian Peacemaker Team, October 16, 2018 – This week the Israeli government approved over $6 million dollars of funding for settlement expansion in al-Khalil. 31 housing units are slated to be built. This is in violation of international law, as an occupying power is not permitted to move its own citizens into occupied territory. Settlements significantly impact Palestinian life as there are more restrictions, the potential for harassment and violence towards Palestinians.

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As Bethlehem’s Mayor, I Ask: Why Are U.S. Christians Celebrating Israeli Policies Strangling Jesus’ Birthplace?

Posted on Oct 15, 2018

Image: Mayor Anton Salman

Mayor Anton Salman

Haaretz | Oct 15, 2017

Anton Salman

The language of Netanyahu and his cabinet increasingly references a Bible-citing and religious, rather than political, war against the Palestinians. And American evangelicals are his enthusiastic foot-soldiers.

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Bethlehem Mayor Blasts Netanyahu: Stop Using Christians to Whitewash Occupation

Posted on Oct 15, 2018

Image: ARCHIVE - Bethlehem, 2014

ARCHIVE – Bethlehem, 2014Nasser Nasser / AP

Netanyahu said on Sunday that the number of Christians in the city has plummeted since its handover to the Palestinian Authority

Oct 15, 2018 4:42 PM

by Jack Khoury

Bethlehem Mayor Anton Salman strongly criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, calling on the premier to stop “using Christians as a tool to whitewash the occupation.”

Salman was responding to comments made by Netanyahu on Sunday at the Christian Media Summit in Jerusalem, a gathering of Christian journalists from around the world.

In his speech Sunday, Netanyahu said that “Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the Christian community thrives and grows,” and criticized the treatment of Christians by the Palestinian Authority.

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Fr. Davide Meli defends Masters thesis in Sacred Theology at Pontifical Lateran University in Rome

Posted on Oct 15, 2018

ROME – On Thursday, October 11 , 2018, Fr. Davide Meli, a priest of the Latin Patriarchate defended his thesis for Licentiate in Sacred Theology at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome. His presentation was on the “Ad Limina” Visits of three Latin Patriarchs in 1877, 1893 and 1913.

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Samia Khoury: YWCA of Palestine International Youth Conference

Posted on Oct 13, 2018

by Samia Khoury

The Young Women’s Christian Association of Palestine (YWCA), a member of the World YWCA, is holding its international conference on Youth this weekend based on UN Security Council Resolution 2250. The resolution which was adopted on Dec. 9, 2015, emphasizes the importance of youth as agents of change in the maintenance and promotion of peace and security. So the slogan of the conference is  “Youth participate, and Youth decide; Toward Freedom and Justice.” Youth from Gaza were also able to attend through video conference linked with the YMCA of Gaza. I was at the opening session yesterday, and felt so proud of this organization which has been so close to my heart and where I had spent many years of my volunteer work. I wish I could have stayed throughout the conference sessions, but physically I cannot cope anymore. I could not even attend the special reception in the evening marking 125 years on the establishment of the YWCA of Palestine. Quite a long and rich history.

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Shaded sports and recreational area project completed in Latin Patriarchate School in Gaza

Posted on Oct 12, 2018

GAZA – It is the last project of El-Zaitoun Latin Compound Master Plan to be completed. The new shaded sports and recreational area will allow students to play and spend quality time in a safe space.

Since 2014, many rehabilitation projects have been launched at El-Zaitoun Compound to repair the damages and destruction caused by the last war in Gaza. The sports and recreational area is the last project to be completed. In the past, the floor of this area was damaged, and accidents occurred often. The area also lacked appropriate playgrounds for the different sports. Restrooms were broken and there were no changing rooms for students and sport teachers.

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APN to Israel’s Government: Let Lara Alqasem In!

Posted on Oct 12, 2018

APNby Ori Nir October 11, 2018

Washington, DC – Americans for Peace Now (APN) calls on the government of Israel to permit entry into Israel to Lara Alqasem, an American of Palestinian descent who received a student visa from an Israeli consulate in the US to undertake a master’s program at Hebrew University.

Alqasem was detained upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport and has been held by Israeli authorities for over a week pending appeal of the order to deport her. The basis for the detention apparently was information published about Alqasem by the Canary Mission, a shadowy website that seeks to intimidate critics of Israel by hurting their future job prospects. The Canary Mission highlighted Alqasem’s past membership in Students for Justice in Palestine, an organization that advocates boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) of Israel. Alqasem headed a tiny chapter of SJP at the University of Florida, which focused on boycotting an Israeli brand of hummus sold in the United States.

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Morning life and resilience under occupation – EAs witness checkpoints in Jerusalem and the West Bank

Posted on Oct 12, 2018

World Council of Churches

Image: People of all ages wait at the Qalandiya checkpoint, the main connection between the northern West Bank and Jerusalem. All photos: Albin Hillert/WCC

People of all ages wait at the Qalandiya checkpoint, the main connection between the northern West Bank and Jerusalem. All photos: Albin Hillert/WCC

By Albin Hillert*

At 4.45, the Qalandiya checkpoint is already crowded, as thousands upon thousands of Palestinians try to make their way to Jerusalem each day.

Qalandiya is the main checkpoint between the northern West Bank and Jerusalem, and ecumenical accompaniers (EAs) from the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (WCC-EAPPI) visit regularly in the early mornings.

Their task is to be an international presence and to show solidarity, offer basic support to anyone denied passage, and collect documentation of the situation at the checkpoint.

EAs’ reports feed into the UN system, providing ongoing monitoring of the human rights situation in Israel and Palestine.

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Canary Mission is *extremely* serious

Posted on Oct 10, 2018

My name is Ari Kaplan. Last winter I was a college freshman when I got a text saying I’d been put on Canary Mission. It scared me so much I had a panic attack.

Canary Mission is a spooky blacklist that profiles college kids and calls us anti-semitic racists for taking part in Palestinian activism. They want to ruin our reputation so we can’t get jobs. It’s messed up.

Now it’s just been revealed Canary Mission has been secretly bankrolled to the tune of $100,000 by the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco.

I don’t care how much anyone wants to support Israel, this is ridiculous! So JVP is starting a petition to the Jewish Federations of North America now demanding they publicly condemn Canary Mission, and commit to never coordinating with or funding it.

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