Seeking truth and justice

Vatican donates ventilators to hospitals in Syria, sets up emergency fund

Posted on Apr 29, 2020

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In the name of Pope Francis, the Congregation for Eastern Churches said it is sending 10 ventilators to Syria and three to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Jerusalem to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

The donations were among the first items announced by the congregation as it launched an emergency fund in response to the pandemic.

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The Virus of Occupation: Israelis Have Taken To Spitting on Palestinians During Coronavirus

Posted on Apr 28, 2020

Spitting at someone is a universal insult. In Israel, however, spitting at Palestinians is an entirely different story.

Image Israeli soldiers wearing face masks and gloves against coronavirus stand in the streets in Jerusalem’s Old City, April 7, 2020. Ariel Schalit | AP

Israeli soldiers wearing face masks and gloves against coronavirus stand in the streets in Jerusalem’s Old City, April 7, 2020. Ariel Schalit | AP

Now that we know that the deadly coronavirus can be transmitted through saliva droplets, Israeli soldiers and illegal Jewish settlers are working extra hard to spit at as many Palestinians, their cars, doorknobs, and so on, as possible.

If this sounds to you too surreal and repugnant, then you might not be as familiar with the particular breed of Israeli colonialism as you may think you are.

In all fairness, Israelis have been spitting at Palestinians well before the World Health Organization (WHO) lectured us on the elusive nature of the COVID-19 disease and on the critical need to apply ‘social distancing’.

Indeed, if you Google the phrase ‘Israeli spitting’, you will be inundated with many interesting search results, the like of “Jerusalem Judge to Jews: Don’t Spit On Christians“, “Christians in Jerusalem want Jews to Stop Spitting on Them“, and the more recent, “Israel Settlers Spitting on Palestinian Cars Raises Concern over Attempt to Spread Coronavirus”.

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Palestinian-Israeli Cooperation to Combat COVID-19 Pandemic under Threat by New Push for West Bank Annexation, Special Coordinator Warns Security Council

Posted on Apr 27, 2020

23 April 2020

While Israelis and Palestinians are cooperating in unprecedented ways to combat the expanding COVID-19 pandemic, Israel must do more to safeguard the health of all people under its control, the senior United Nations official in the region told the Security Council in a 23 April videoconference meeting[*].

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Medical experts offer on-line support to Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem

Posted on Apr 27, 2020

Image: Holy Family Hospital, Bethlehem

Holy Family Hospital, Bethlehem


April 23, 2020 – As Covid-19 approaches, a hospital in Bethlehem is already on the brink of collapse, Michelle Bowe, Ambassador of the Order of Malta to Palestine has warned.

“Covid 19 has caused the total closure, geographic and economic isolation of the Bethlehem region. Families do not have enough money for food, not to mention medical treatment. At the Holy Family Hospital important medical equipment is lacking, which endangers the lives of our newborn babies, many of whom are born before 32 weeks. There is also a great lack of face masks and a problem of blood availability. We are on the brink of collapse,” she said.

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Prison Ministry Assistance provided on weekly basis in Jordan

Posted on Apr 27, 2020


Image: Prison Ministry Assistance provided on weekly basis in Jordan


JORDAN, April 23, 2020 – Once or two twice a week, a team from Caritas Jordan and members of the clergy visit approximately 200 Christian inmates, both local and foreign, in 13 prisons across Jordan, providing spiritual, financial, and legal assistance that would not be possible without the continuous generous support of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre.

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Jewish history explains why some ultra-Orthodox communities defy coronavirus restrictions

Posted on Apr 27, 2020

by Joyce Dalsheim, Associate Professor of Global Studies, University of North Carolina – Charlotte in The Conversation

Image: An Ultra-Orthodox Jewish man is arrested by Israeli security forces for resisting efforts to shut down a synagogue in the Me’a She’arim neighborhood in Jerusalem, April 17, 2020. AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images

An Ultra-Orthodox Jewish man is arrested by Israeli security forces for resisting efforts to shut down a synagogue in the Me’a She’arim neighborhood in Jerusalem, April 17, 2020. AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images

Most prominent rabbis around the world support government health regulations intended to curb the spread of coronavirus, even if it means closing places of study and worship. But some observant Jewish communities in the United States and Israel were slow to adopt social distancing.

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Jerusalem, the three religions together again against the Coronavirus

Posted on Apr 25, 2020


After the meeting organized a few weeks ago by the municipality of Jerusalem, the religious leaders of the Holy City found themselves praying together again.

At the King David Hotel, in the west of Jerusalem, the chiefs of rabbis of Israel arrive – Sephardic Yitzhak Yosef and Ashkenazite David Lau. They are the ones who compose the prayer asking for the end of the Coronavirus pandemic.


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April 22 Sacred Conversations #6 – “Love in the Time of Corona”

Posted on Apr 23, 2020


During this time of social distancing, one of the many ways we can stay connected in the coming days is by continuing our weekly spiritual practice in virtual form. This Virtual Meetinghouse will be open 24/7 while our social distancing measures are in effect as a way to help us care for, protect, encourage, help and love one another.

Presenting the sixth in a series of weekly conversations aimed at strengthening our spiritual connections during the coronavirus pandemic. Steve Jungkeit is joined this week by Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, director of the Palestine Museum of Natural History and director of the Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability.

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Christian Groups That Resist Public-Health Guidelines Are Forgetting a Key Part of the Religion’s History

Posted on Apr 21, 2020

Matthew Gabriele | Time
April 20, 2020, 9:12 AM PDT

Because of its long history, Christianity has a tendency to produce contradicting reactions to any number of situations—and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. On one hand, some religious leaders have shown that they believe a Christian response to the global emergency involves steps such as making allowances for their congregants to practice their faith with socially distant private worship or drive-through confession; in March, Pope Francis hailed “the creativity of priests” in responding to this crisis. Meanwhile, others have made it clear that they see their Christian faith as a reason not to follow public-health guidelines.

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An Israeli Coalition Government Which Betrays Judaism

Posted on Apr 20, 2020

by Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun, chair of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, and rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue-Without-Walls in Berkeley, California.


Image: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz

Israeli newspapers are announcing the creation of a new Israeli government: Prime Minister Netanyahu and Kahol Lavan Chair Benny Gantz have agreed on a proposal that would allow Netanyahu to stay as prime minister for a year and a half and allow him to avoid the trial for his criminal acts.

Although Gantz presented himself as the moderate alternative to Netanyahu, in the final analysis his decision to not include Israeli Palestinian political parties into his potential coalition government left him with little grounds to refuse the deal offered by Netanyahu which seems to include an annexation (date yet to be determined) of a significant section of the West Bank (where Palestinians have hoped to build an independent Palestinian state living in peace with Israel).

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In Iraq, aid groups face lockdown constraints trying to help displaced

Posted on Apr 20, 2020

Image: Displaced women and children wearing protective masks wait in the medical center of a camp in Dahuk, Iraq, March 7, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. (CNS photo/Ari Jalal, Reuters)

Displaced women and children wearing protective masks wait in the medical center of a camp in Dahuk, Iraq, March 7, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. (CNS photo/Ari Jalal, Reuters)

AMMAN, Jordan (CNS) — A top Catholic humanitarian group expressed concern for the tens of thousands of Iraqis displaced inside their country and dependent on assistance, because access to them has become severely restricted due to COVID-19.

“The government in the northern Kurdish area of Iraq has been very careful and restrictive (with regard to measures to tackle coronavirus), more so than in central or southern Iraq,” said Hani El-Mahdi, Iraq country representative for the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Relief Services. El-Mahdi spoke to CNS by phone from the area’s capital, Irbil.

“But access to people is a challenge,” El-Mahdi said of the current situation as most of Iraq faces lockdown in a bid to stem the spread of COVID-19. Iraq has reported 1,434 cases of the coronavirus as of April 17, but some medical professionals claim the number could be higher.

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Wallwritings: Zionist Attacks Continue on Director Ken Loach

Posted on Apr 19, 2020

by James M. Wall

Israeli politics shine no light on the darkness of oppression.

Take the career 0f Ken Loach, a film director who exposes injustice on and off screen. He has long been a constant warrior against Zionist oppression.

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Bethlehem: a Bronze Age prehistoric cemetery was discovered

Posted on Apr 17, 2020

[Bronze Age: 3000 BC to 1200 BC]

On April 6, the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced the discovery of a prehistoric cemetery dating back to the Bronze Age in the Hindaza region near Bethlehem.

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Mazin Qumsiyeh: “Life’s Little Instruction Book”

Posted on Apr 16, 2020

Mazin Qumsiyeh writes from Beit Sahour.

There is a little book I have had for twelve years called “Life’s little instruction book: 511 suggestions, observations, and reminders on how to live a happy and rewarding life”. I was browsing through it again last night. Obviously many things I may not agree with…like “once in your life own a convertible (car)”. But there are many good ones. Here is a selection I share with those on [my Palestinian Christians emailing list]:

1-Admit your mistakes.

2-Be forgiving of yourself and others.

3-Say thank you a lot.

4-Never give-up on anybody. Miracles happen everyday.

5-Never deprive someone of hope. It might be all they have.

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A Palestinian Guide to Surviving a Quarantine

Posted on Apr 13, 2020

Image: A Palestinian man wearing a mask as a means of protection against the coronavirus COVID-19, sits on the seashore in Gaza City on March 13, 2020.

A Palestinian man wearing a mask as a means of protection against the coronavirus COVID-19, sits on the seashore in Gaza City on March 13, 2020. | Foto: AFP

by Ramzy Baroud

Now that nearly half of the population of planet Earth are experiencing some form of ‘curfew’ or another, I would like to share a few suggestions on how to survive the prolonged confinement, the Palestinian way.

Call it a ‘quarantine,’ a ‘shelter-in-place,’ a ‘lockdown’ or a ‘curfew,’ we Palestinians have experienced them all, though not at all voluntarily.

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Samia Khoury: Holy Saturday Message

Posted on Apr 13, 2020

Our Sabeel elders from Jerusalem shared lessons of liberation and spiritual survival in the midst of continued dispossession, health crises, and international chaos. During this Easter season, with disruption and death looming, we gathered together to remember that just as Jesus died on the cross to reveal the eternal, divinity has been revealed in the midst of physical destruction. This powerful service of prayers, readings, and hymns brings hearts closer together as closures continue to separate us.

Samia Khoury writes from East Jerusalem:

I know some of you attended this zoom service on Holy Saturday, but just in case you did not and are interested, here is the link for it:  https://www.facebook.com/fosnalive/videos/vb.126793740682727/2854034748007057/?type=2&theater . 

Below is the text of her presentation:

Al-Salaam Aleykum, Peace Greetings to all of you from Jerusalem.

While Easter is the most important season for Christians all over the world, it is specially meaningful for Palestinian Christians, and more so for those of us living in Jerusalem, supposedly the city of peace, when in reality there is no peace.

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In 2020, April 12th is Palm Sunday for Orthodox Communities

Posted on Apr 12, 2020

In Western Christianity, the date of Palm Sunday is based on the Gregorian Calendar, while the Julian Calendar is the medium for Palm Sunday date calculations in Eastern Christianity.

Dr. Maria Khoury shares photos from the orthodox faith community of Taybeh.

Below please find photos that include Fr Daoud and Father Jack and the faithful at 4th-century Byzantine ruins of Saint George (Al-Khader), Taybeh, Palestine


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Keffiyeh from Jordan Has a Role in San Francisco during the Pandemic

Posted on Apr 11, 2020

by Father Paul Zirimenya, Pastor of St. Benedict Parish for the Deaf at St. Francis Xavier Churh in San Francisco, California

The sun was shining. Flowers were blossoming. Most people were out and about looking forward to enjoying the springtime. Then the coronavirus came knocking on our doors. On March 17, the City and County of San Francisco issued a shelter-in-place order.

Since the shelter-in-place order took effect, most of my colleagues began enjoying and appreciating the good things in life. As people of faith, we believe that every situation, even the most difficult, heart-breaking, or tragic, has an element of good in it.

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Gaza and COVID-19: how [did] Christians live during Holy Week?

Posted on Apr 11, 2020

Gaza and COVID-19: how do Christians live during Holy Week?

By: Rula Shomali/ LPJ – First published: April 09 Thu, 2020

GAZA STRIP – With the beginning of March, and with the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic, all shops in Bethlehem closed down, internal and external tourism stopped, and movement inside and outside the cities was blocked. Further protective measures were taken by the governments, that included banning gatherings for large numbers of people and introducing the term: social distancing. Even, unlike times of war, all institutions closed down, including schools and churches. As the ratio of the infected people increased in the city and its suburbs, more restrictions and closures were imposed, as it reached all areas in the Holy Land.

For Palestinians who survived occupation for decades, the current situation was not that different for them. Yet, coronavirus came to paralyse what is left from their social and economical life they had, demonstrating that the virus knows no boundaries, no religion, and no political affiliation.

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Easter 2020: Message of Patriarchs and Heads of Churches of Jerusalem

Posted on Apr 11, 2020


Easter 2020: Message of Patriarchs and Heads of Churches of Jerusalem

Click here for Arabic version

Easter Message of the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches of Jerusalem

“Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen!” (Luke 24.5-6 NKJV)

We, the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches of Jerusalem, greet all our communities and faithful Christians around the world with the blessings of our Risen Lord and Liberator. The Feast of the Resurrection is a time of renewal of hope, restoration and victory over all forms of death and destruction. The whole world at this time lives in a state of fear, anxiety, and ambiguity as it faces the COVID-19 pandemic. Many countries are facing so much loss and grief, and infected cases are on the rise. Jerusalem, the City of the Resurrection and the Empty Tomb, is empty from pilgrims and churches are awaiting worshippers to return to proclaim the Easter message and the Alleluias.

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Take a tour of Jerusalem without leaving your couch

Posted on Apr 9, 2020

Image: The city of Jerusalem is accessible to virtual visitors during lockdown.

The city of Jerusalem is accessible to virtual visitors during lockdown.

AFP, April 9, 2020, 9:43 AM PDT

Those of you who are yearning to get away from it all might well consider a virtual excursion to Jerusalem, which is now just a few clicks away thanks to the launch of a digital tours platform that enables you to visit many of the attractions in the ancient city.

In partnership with the East Jerusalem Development Company and Bridgify, the city of Jerusalem has launched a platform offering virtual visits to its ramparts, holy sites, temples and museums. A catalogue of virtual tours, many of which are free, is made available to internet users once they have registered with the service.

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Bahbah: The Coronavirus Looms Large Over Easter in the Holy Land

Posted on Apr 9, 2020

By: Bishara A. Bahbah/Arab America Featured Columnist, April 8, 2020

Not since the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ has the Holy Land seen a gloomier Easter week like the one it is witnessing at the present time. Compared to many parts of the world, the Holy Land has had the unwelcome distinction of living through an untold number of disasters, especially, during the past 100 years; the Holy Land has been in a continual state of war arising from the Zionist movement’s quest of establishing a Jewish state in the midst of a largely Arab-Palestinian population in Palestine.

The few months’ old global COVID-19 pandemic has not spared the Holy Land from its wrath and its deadly effects. Consequently, even unlike times of war, there will be no church services [even though this Easter will pass without people attending churches or celebrating together, church services are broadcast over the internet] commemorating Jesus’ sacrifice to atoning the sins of human beings and there will be no celebrations of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and His ascent to heaven. Instead, there will be closures, lockdowns, and even curfews in the Palestinian and Israeli parts of the Holy Land.

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From a hopeful move to almost complete lockdown

Posted on Apr 9, 2020

by Marwa Ghannam, a data coordinator with B’Tselem, who moved to Bethlehem just days before the city shut down.

When my mother said that the checkpoints could close one day and I wouldn’t be able to visit them, I reassured her it wouldn’t happen. Because I write detailed reports for B’Tselem about roadblocks and closure of villages in the West Bank, I know it can happen, but I was trying to spare my mom the worry.

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Middle East Council of Churches: “Live this time in strong spiritual solidarity”

Posted on Apr 9, 2020

08 April 2020

On 26 March, the World Council of Churches (WCC) and Regional Ecumenical Organizations released a historic joint pastoral statement affirming the urgency of standing together to protect life amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The WCC has since been gathering viewpoints from diverse regions about the importance of taking care of our one human family.

Dr Souraya Bechealany is secretary general of the Middle East Council of Churches.

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Kairos Palestine Easter Alert 2020

Posted on Apr 6, 2020




written by Patriarch Michel Sabbah

Christ is risen, indeed He is risen. Let us rejoice and be glad.

We rejoice because Jesus Christ, who triumphed over death, enables us also to triumph over all forms of death in our life. In our life, indeed, the forms of death are many.

Some of the world’s great—along with many of those who have power—are still walking in the ways of death. They are imposing many wars on our Middle East and on our Holy Land, the land of the Resurrection. They see nothing but death as a way to life. The strong in our land continue to see the death imposed on the Palestinian people as their only way to life and security.

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Interreligious Prayer in Jerusalem

Posted on Apr 5, 2020

March 27, 2020

This is how they greet each other on the terrace of Jerusalem City Hall. No handshake is formally allowed to religious leaders invited by the mayor of the Holy City to ask God’s help against the Coronavirus.

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The collection for the Holy Land Has Been Moved to September

Posted on Apr 5, 2020

This collection is the one that allows us not only to take care of the Holy Places, but above all to take care of the local Christian communities.

The 2020 Holy Week will be a very atypical one. The rites of the Easter Triduum will be celebrated without the participation of the faithful. For this reason, the Congregation for the Eastern Churches has deemed it appropriate to postpone the Holy Land Collection which is usually offered on Good Friday to Catholics all over the world.

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Holyland Institute for the Deaf and Deafblind (HLID)

Posted on Apr 5, 2020

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), a worldwide ministry of Anabaptist churches, shares God’s love and compassion for all in the name of Christ by responding to basic human needs and working for peace and justice. ​

Asma Masadeh from Jordan trains children who are both deaf and blind.

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Lebanon’s Churches are adjusting to the restrictions imposed on Holy Week

Posted on Apr 5, 2020

“…no more ‘my country first,’ at the expense of others”
Superior General of the Good Shepherd sisters, Sister Ellen Kelly

By Fady Noun/ asianews.it

Lebanon’s Churches are adjusting to the restrictions imposed on Holy Week by the COVID-19 pandemic. The “picturesque and colourful” processions of Palm Sunday were cancelled. Liturgical services are being held behind closed doors, but the faithful have been able to follow them via the Internet. The health crisis is a “dark night” that we must face as “one”.

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Israel to help Christians share ‘holy fire’ amid outbreak

Posted on Apr 4, 2020

Image: A worker disinfects the doors of the closed Church if the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City, as general public movements are limited to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Monday, March 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

A worker disinfects the doors of the closed Church if the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City, as general public movements are limited to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Monday, March 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

by JOSEF FEDERMAN, Associated Press, April 3, 2020

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel is working with foreign governments and Orthodox Christian leaders in the Holy Land to make sure that one of their most ancient and mysterious rituals — the Holy Fire ceremony — is not extinguished by the coronavirus outbreak, officials said Friday.

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