Updates January 2011



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  We seek to keep you literally "updated" on movement in terms of truth and justice in the Middle East in general with a particular eye on Palestine.  The links below will take you to various articles and websites that offer the perspective of leaders in the religious, NGO, and human rights communities. Additionally, Al-Bushra, ever vigilant, provides links to regular reporting as well as opinion pieces by journalists. The dates given here indicate when the link was posted; the most recent posting is at the top. Check the article itself for the date of publication.  

Comments made over the years by Israeli leaders


14 January 2011 08:38:40 -0800


Jan. 15, 2011

Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) | Kairos Palestine - A Moment of Truth

On the first anniversary of the launching of Kairos Palestine - A Moment of Truth, the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is pleased to announce the release of a 24-page booklet that includes the Kairos document and a three-week congregational study plan.

Kairos Palestine is the "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" of our time. This Confession of Faith, written in 2009 by a broad spectrum of Palestinian Christian leaders, is addressed to Palestinians, Israelis, the international community--as well as all the churches of the world. It lifts up the classical theological virtues of faith, hope, and love that lie at the heart of the Christian Gospel, and affirms that resistance to injustice and oppression is firmly grounded in these principles. It is both an anguished cry in a dark hour and a profound testament to unquenchable hope.

The study plan includes informative background material on the Israel-Palestine conflict including three maps in color. This material provides essential historical, political, and theological context for the Kairos Palestine statement. The booklet is an excellent guide for readers undertaking an individual study of the document. Church-based groups will benefit from the detailed lesson plans for a three-week congregational study, including a list of thought-provoking questions to stimulate reflection and discussion.

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Jan. 15, 2011

Zenit | Holy Land Custos: Do Not Fear Suffering

Invites Participation in Day of Intercession for Peace

JERUSALEM, JAN. 14, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The custos of the Holy Land is noting that it is a fear of suffering that often keeps us from working for peace.

Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa stated this in a message written for the 3rd International Day of Intercession for Peace in the Holy Land, which will be celebrated Jan. 29-30.

The priest affirmed, "Peace dwells in man's heart as nostalgia and wish for the future, and it is because of this that our responsibility in meetings for peace drive us increasingly to seek in prayer the place to educate us to find it by carrying out works of justice, to attain it in attention to the signs of the times, to know how to receive it in the humility of truth."

He reflected on the theme, "to act and suffer," affirming that "by considering this binomial inseparable we will discover how much our immobility does not depend so much on our good will to do, as it does on our fear of having to suffer for peace."

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Jan. 15, 2011


The search for unity: throughout the year

The traditional period in the northern hemisphere for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is 18-25 January. Those dates were proposed in 1908 by Paul Wattson to cover the days between the feasts of St Peter and St Paul, and therefore have a symbolic significance. In the southern hemisphere where January is a vacation time churches often find other days to celebrate the week of prayer, for example around Pentecost (suggested by the Faith and Order movement in 1926), which is also a symbolic date for the unity of the church.

Mindful of this flexibility concerning the date, we encourage you to understand the material presented here as an invitation to find opportunities throughout the whole year to express the degree of communion which the churches have already reached, and to pray together for that full unity which is Christ’s will.

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Jan. 14, 2011

America Magazine, the US Catholic Weekly | New Pressure From Israeli Hardliners

From CNS, staff and other sources

The Holy Land Coordination, a group of representatives of European and North American bishops’ conferences, began its annual visit to Israel and the Occupied Territories on Jan. 10 against a backdrop of increasing pressure on Palestinians from the Israeli right. In recent days East Jerusalem’s historic Shepherd Hotel was razed to make room for new homes for Israeli settlers; and a controversial measure, aimed at the country’s Arab minority, that called for stripping the citizenship of any Israeli convicted of espionage passed in the Israeli Knesset’s Internal Security Committee. Notable was the clear reluctance of the nation’s Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency to endorse the proposal.

The move follows other initiatives that mark a hardening on the right within Israel: a loyalty oath that could become a condition for acquiring citizenship; calls for banning Jews from renting property to Arabs; and street demonstrations demanding prohibitions on dating between Arab boys and Jewish girls.

The razing of the hotel was condemned by the British Foreign Office, and Saeb Erakat, chief Palestinian negotiator with Israel, said: “The State of Israel is demolishing one Palestinian property after another in an effort to cleanse Jerusalem of its Palestinian inhabitants, heritage and history…. Such actions are unlawful and undermine the two-state solution and the negotiations process.”

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Jan. 14, 2011

Zenit | Bishops Renew Pledge to Support "5th Gospel"

Affirm Holy Land Must Have Christian Communities

JERUSALEM, JAN. 13, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The international group of bishops that forms the Holy Land Coordination has concluded its annual meeting in Jerusalem, renewing the pledge to support Christian communities in the land known as the Fifth Gospel.

A closing statement today summarized the bishops' four-day trip, which, the prelates explained, had a particular emphasis this year on meeting with all Christian confessions.

The coordination group, including bishops from Canada, England and Wales, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the United States, was set up in Jerusalem in 1998 at the request of the Holy See. It is organized by the bishops' conference of England and Wales.

The statement affirmed that the bishops found encouragement in reflecting on this text from Benedict XVI: "The more we appreciate the universality and the uniqueness of Christ's person, the more we look with gratitude to that land where Jesus was born, where he lived and where he gave his life for us. The stones on which our Redeemer walked are still charged with his memory and continue to 'cry out' the Good News.

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Jan. 14, 2011

Zenit | Final Statement of 11th Holy Land Coordination Meeting

"A Pledge of Prayer, A Call for Pilgrimage and A Commitment to Pursue a Just Peace"

JERUSALEM, JAN. 13, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is the final communique of the 11th meeting of the Holy Land Coordination, which concluded in Jerusalem today. The closing statement summarizes the bishops' four-day trip.


The coordination group, including bishops from Canada, England and Wales, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the United States, was set up in Jerusalem in 1998 at the request of the Holy See. It is organized by the bishops' conference of England and Wales.

* * *

We have gathered for the eleventh time in the Holy Land to show, by sharing and exchanging our experiences and hopes, the love and solidarity of Catholics in our home countries for the Land of our Saviour, for the holy places and, in a special way, for the people who make up the community of believers here. This year we have had a particular focus on meeting with all Christian Confessions. Our calling as Christians is to build bridges and our shared hope is to bring all Christians together in the search for a just peace for all in this land. We were also pleased to come together with the Ordinaries of the Holy Land.

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Jan. 12, 2011

Zenit | Egyptian Christians Await Global Solidarity

Interview With Orthodox Coptic Bishop Barnabas El Soryany

By Serena Sartini

ROME, JAN. 12, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Though forgiveness is the way to respond to the Jan. 1 attack on an Orthodox Coptic church in Alexandria, Egypt, still, according to Orthodox Coptic Bishop Barnabas El Soryany, there must be a declaration once and for all: "Enough of hatred and terrorism, enough of blood."

Read more


Jan. 11, 2011

Zenit | Patriarch's Address to Orthodox Community of Jerusalem

"I Pray ... That Our Daily Dialogue and Charity Become Stronger"

JERUSALEM, JAN. 11, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address delivered Monday by Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem to to the Orthodox community of Jerusalem at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. The meeting took place within the context of the annual meeting of the Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church of the Holy Land and the Assembly of Catholic Bishops in the Holy Land, which is under way in Jerusalem through Thursday.

* * *

Your Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III, and all distinguished members of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate,

It is our great joy to come together as Catholic, Armenian, orthodox and evangelical churches, besides an International delegation of the Catholic Bishops' Conferences in USA and Europe, to wish you a very happy Christmas. Our visit is not only a protocol gathering. We want to witness our brotherly communion, our desire for full unity and our common faith in the same salvation obtained by Christ through his Nativity in Bethlehem.

...[an extract from His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III's address in response] "Jerusalem is not just a local parish; it is a universal parish. So far globalisation has not entered and Jerusalem maintains its spiritual purity and that is why it is important for the rest of the world."

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Jan. 11, 2011

Zenit | Palestinian Leader: Christian Presence Is Vital

Affirms Shared Concerns With Benedict XVI

RAMALLAH, West Bank, JAN. 11, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The prime minister of the Palestinian National Authority is underlining the "vital" need for a Christian presence in that region.

Salam Fayyad stated this today at the annual meeting of the Holy Land Coordination.

The coordination group, including bishops from Canada, England and Wales, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the United States, was set up in Jerusalem in 1998 at the request of the Holy See. It is organized by the bishops' conference of England and Wales.

The conference reported Fayyad's affirmation that "a vibrant Christian presence is vital for the future of a Palestinian state."

The prime minister reported that data from 2009 indicates that for the first time in years, more Palestinians -- including Christians -- are returning to that region than leaving.

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Jan. 11, 2011

Zenit | UK Catholics Find Way to Keep Youth in Holy Land

Liverpool Archdiocese, Knights of Holy Sepulchre Fund Youth Center

NABLUS, West Bank, JAN. 10, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The archbishop of Liverpool opened a youth center in Nablus on Sunday -- the only in the area -- and the local parish priest hailed it as an important step in halting emigration.

The center is the latest contribution from the international group of bishops and Church leaders known as the Holy Land Cooperation, which meets each January in the Middle East with the ongoing pledge of showing Christians in the land of Jesus' birth that the universal Church is supporting them.

Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool, England, is currently in the Holy Land and on Sunday, he opened the Nablus youth center. Faithful of the archdiocese and the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre are jointly funding the center.

The complex was built next to the parish church of St. Justin in Rafidia, a northern suburb of Nablus. St. Justin is twinned with St. Oswald and St. Cecilia in Liverpool.

Father Johnny Abu-Khalil, the parish priest of St. Justin, welcomed representatives of the Holy Land Coordination.

“We have two bishops: the Patriarch Archbishop Faoud Twal and Archbishop Patrick Kelly," Father Abu-Khalil said. "This youth center is an important step in halting emigration and will help young people stay in Palestine. It is an exemplary project, offering a model of cooperation that should be duplicated across the Palestinian territories. It is the only youth center in the area and offers hope for our young people; for the future.

“As the mayor of Nablus says: Speak not of Christian or Muslim communities. Speak of Christian and Muslim inhabitants of Nablus. We are proud that there is a united Nablus.”

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Jan. 11, 2011

Zenit | Holy Land Prelate Urges Focus on Lives, Not Politics

Sees Not What Can't Be Done, But What Can Be

JERUSALEM, JAN. 10, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem acknowledges that a group of Church leaders cannot change the political situation of the Middle East. But, he says, faced with this "frustrating situation," they can invest time, energy and resources in "making a difference to the life of our people."

Archbishop Fouad Twal said this in his address to open the annual meeting of the Holy Land Coordination.

The coordination group, including bishops from Canada, England and Wales, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the United States, was set up in Jerusalem in 1998 at the request of the Holy See. It is organized by the bishops' conference of England and Wales.

In his address, Archbishop Twal reflected on the synod of bishops on the Middle East, held last October at the Vatican. He spoke of the Holy Land as "a place where the Christian memory of sacred history is most dense, and where those baptized in the Name of Jesus, of whatever denomination, come to recover the historical memory of their faith and renew their commitment to God in his Son. And it is for all of these reasons, that the presence of the Church here is, as Pope Benedict XVI said during his visit in 2009, 'precious in God's eyes' and that he wished to assure the local church here, 'of the solidarity, love and support of the whole Church and of the Holy See.'"

"Your presence is the living proof of the seriousness of the Pope's words," the patriarch said, "made evident to me and to all of the local Christians you will meet in these days, as well as to the many others, who will benefit from the solidarity that you have come here to express."

The archbishop said that local Christians need to see concrete steps, and he noted that they are stuck between two extremist groups: "The Muslim one with his attacks against our churches and our faithful, and the Israeli right wing, invading more and more Jerusalem, trying to transform it to an only Hebrew-Jewish city, excluding the other faiths."

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Jan. 10, 2011

Zenit | Pope Lauds Call to Defend Mideast Christians

Notes European Battle for Religious Freedom

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 10, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is expressing appreciation to the European countries that have taken up the call to defend Mideast Christians under violent attack.

The Pope stated this today in an annual New Year address to members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See.

He affirmed that the recent attacks on Christians in Iraq and Egypt have "troubled us deeply."

Read more


Jan. 9, 2011

Wall Writings | “A Family in Gaza”: Two Years Later by the Reverend James M. Wall [Methodist]

A Family in Gaza is a short film made and distributed by Jen Marlowe. It tells the true story of what happened to one family in Gaza, two years ago.

Given its theme, it is a remarkably low-keyed film, narrated calmly by Wafaa and Kamal, the parents of the Awajah family of the title. Their young son was among the 1400 Gazans who were killed during Israel’s 23-day assault on Gaza which began December 27, 2008.

I shared the video with friends and family. Here is one response:

It is a beautiful video, a mythology-shattering piece both compelling and painful. Watching it brought to mind a hasbara tactic that infuriates me, the mythology surrounding incitement, specifically, the assertion by Israel that Palestinian educators and parents teach their children to hate and that is what drives Palestinian violence.

While there are undoubtedly issues with both Palestinian and Israeli textbooks, this tactic is simply noxious. Throughout the telling, the father of this family reflects on how this experience and fear have been ingrained in his children’s blood – this is of course the greatest source of incitement, the killing and traumatizing of civilians, the subjugation of generations, the demolitions of homes and land, and the killing, always the killing.

Until now, I had not seen nor heard this tactic adequately exposed.

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Jan. 8, 2011

Zenit | US Bishops Decry Anti-Christian Violence

US Bishops Decry Anti-Christian Violence

Urge Government to Be Mindful of Freedom When Making Economic Decisions

WASHINGTON, D.C., JAN. 7, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. episcopal conference is urging the Obama administration to make economic and political decisions being mindful of governments' indifference to the protection of their citizens....

...Why the silence?

Meanwhile, Ray Flynn, a former mayor of Boston who served as the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See under President Bill Clinton, released a statement questioning why anti-Christian violence gets so little attention.

He wrote: "The central question I asked was, 'Why is it that Catholics are afraid to speak out against injustice, hatred and even violence directed against them?' I complained to the national media. One outlet said to me, 'Ambassador, you are the only person to bring this to our attention. We don't hear too much from you folks.'"

"I can't imagine another religious group who would allow the media -- conservative or progressive -- to get away with this," Flynn remarked. "[…] I'm beginning to see no difference between the [political] parties or in the media, when it comes to traditional Catholic concerns."

Read the entire article


Jan. 8, 2011

Zenit | Baptism Makes Us Members of the Family of Jesus

Biblical Reflection for Baptism of the Lord, Year A

By Father Thomas Rosica, CSB

TORONTO, JAN. 6, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Salt and Light Television (my other life!) recently produced a magnificent documentary titled "Within Your Gates," which details Benedict XVI's historic pilgrimage to Jordan and Israel in 2009. Among the moving scenes in the film are those of the Holy Father's visit, along with Jordan's King Abdullah II and his wife, Queen Rania, to what is strongly believed to be the baptismal site of Jesus at the Jordan River in Jordan. As I reviewed all the footage and listened closely to the Pope's moving homily at the Jordan River, I could not think of more fitting way to prepare for the feast of the Baptism of the Lord that we celebrate today.

Benedict XVI reflected on the Jesus' baptism, which he described as being "brought vividly before us in this place." The Pope said: "Jesus stood in line with sinners and accepted John's baptism of penance as a prophetic sign of his own passion, death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins. Down through the centuries, many pilgrims have come to the Jordan to seek purification, renew their faith and draw closer to the Lord. Such was the pilgrim Egeria, who left a written account of her visit during the late fourth century.

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Jan. 4, 2011

World Council of Churches | In God's Hands: the Ecumenical Prayer Cycle

At the very heart of the ecumenical movement is the reality of prayer. Jesus prayed that we may all be one, united in God in the mystery of the Trinity. That is the basis and the goal of our search for unity.

The Ecumenical Prayer Cycle enables us to journey in prayer through every region of the world and through every week of the year affirming our solidarity with Christians all over the world, brothers and sisters living in diverse situations, experiencing diverse problems and sharing diverse gifts. Lord, hear our prayer ...

These pages are based on the Ecumenical Prayer Cycle "In God's Hands - Common Prayer for the World". The book and the website offer valuable aids for intercessory prayers, prayer on behalf of and in solidarity with others.

Week 1: 26 December 2010 - 1 January 2011

Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories


Week 2: 2-8 January

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen, Iran, Iraq


Week 3: 2-8 January

Cyprus, Greece, Turkey

Week 4: 2-8 January

Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia

See the program for the year


Jan. 3, 2011

Santa Rosa Press Democrat | Santa Rosa activist wins 'Peacemaker Award'


The co-owner of a print shop between Santa Rosa and Sebastopol, naturalized American, lifelong Catholic, wife and mother of two sons in their mid-20s learned as a child not to go around broadcasting that she is Palestinian.

She was born in 1947, a crucial year, to a family that had lived for centuries in the Christian city of Ramallah, just nine miles from Jerusalem. Mughannam-Walrath has no childhood memories of Ramallah because later in '47 the United Nations voted to partition Palestine to allow the creation of the nation of Israel.

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Jan. 3, 2011

Wall Writings | The Long Struggle for Peace, Which Began with Carter, Starts Over in 2011 by the Reverend James M. Wall [Methodist]

On May 17, 1977, four months after Jimmy Carter was sworn in as US president, Israeli voters elected a right wing government for the first time in modern political history.

Menachen Begin, a former Israeli underground “terrorist” leader, became prime minister.

It was clear to President Carter that Begin had no interest in what the rest of the world referred to as a fair and just “peace” in the region. Carter quickly discovered that Begin was not going to be a “partner for peace”.

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Jan. 1, 2011

Sabeel | Peace in Mideast, Not Just Process, by Desmond Tutu and Jimmy Carter

in The Jordan Times: http://www.jordantimes.com/?news=33007

For nearly two decades, there have been peace processes in the Middle East but no peace. In recent visits to the region including Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory we have heard a consistent message: people want peace, but are sceptical about the process and have little faith in the international community to deliver.

Two years after the 2008 Gaza conflict, there is now an opportunity to reassess the entire approach to the negotiations. The US effort to secure from Israel another partial freeze on settlement building as a way of resuming direct talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders has failed.

We urge a renewed effort, firmly based in international law and respect for human rights, that first aims to define boundaries between Israel and a new Palestinian state and address security issues.

Without such focus, we will see the possibility of a two-state solution slipping even further away.

This approach sets challenges for Israelis and Palestinians, for their regional neighbours, for the international community, especially the US government, and for each of us as concerned global citizens.

Applying international law and human rights principles means that the occupation must end, and the focus of negotiations should be on the boundaries of a future Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, with its capital in East Jerusalem.

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