Updates June 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


31 July 2011 15:47:47 -0700


June 27, 2011

America Magazine | Syria: 'We Are Dying And the World Is Watching'

From CNS, staff and other sources

As Turkey’s foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu visited one of the impromptu refugee camps that have cropped up along the border with Syria, refugee children held up a cardboard sign that pretty much says it all: “We are dying and the world is watching.” More than 1,400 people have been killed since the regime of Bashar al-Assad began its brutal clampdown on dissent in Syria; thousands have been driven from their homes and, according to some reports, one city razed; in Syria the Arab Spring may be coming to a bloody conclusion.

Many nations have condemned the brutal crackdown, and there is movement for a further condemnation by the United Nations of the increasingly isolated Assad government. But a more vigorous global response to the violence does not appear likely. The principle of international responsibility to protect defenseless civilians from their own governments has already been called into play in Libya, draining international resources and fortitude.

Read more


June 27, 2011

America Magazine | Church-Building Law Denounced in Egypt

From CNS, staff and other sources

Christian leaders and human rights groups in Egypt are raising serious concerns about a law that would govern the construction of churches and mosques. The proposed law would place the power to permit or deny building in the hands of local communities, a decentralized system that critics argue places the Christian minority at a distinct disadvantage. “The bill before us now utterly fails to dispel the foundations of prejudice experienced by religious minorities, particularly Copts, who had hoped to see the institution of licensing procedures...made identical to those governing construction by their Muslim peers,” the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies wrote in a statement calling for the bill to be withdrawn. In a joint statement, the Egyptian Coptic, Anglican and Catholic Churches also expressed their disapproval of the current draft. Among the bill’s controversial items is a stipulation that a new church or mosque could not be built within one kilometer of an existing place of worship, a requirement that Christians say would make it nearly impossible to build in densely populated neighborhoods.



June 27, 2011

Zenit | Caritas Workers: We'll Be There

Affirm Commitment to Refugee Situation Generated by Arab Spring 
By Chiara Santomiero

ROME, JUNE 26, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Though the situation in North Africa has those who assist refugees and migrants feeling particularly strained right now, the Church will continue to be on site and dedicated, says the director of Caritas in Italy, Monsignor Vittorio Nozza.

The monsignor affirmed this during the MigraMed meeting that ended Saturday in Rome. It brought together the national Caritas organizations of various Mediterranean countries that are involved in handling the emergency provoked by the North African revolutions and the current situation in Syria.

Monsignor Nozza noted that Italian Caritas finds itself working on two fronts: "On one hand, in support of the diocesan Caritas agencies in their efforts in the regions that are receiving the migrants, and on the other hand, in the discussions in concert with the other international organizations, with the institutional departments charged with migrant affairs."

Bishop Mariano Crociata, secretary-general of the Italian Bishops' Conference, announced at the conclusion of their meeting in March that 93 Italian dioceses have offered 1,500 locations to help with the refugee reception emergency. The majority of these refugees have arrived on the Island of Lampedusa.

Read more


June 25, 2011

Zenit | Pontiff: Mideast Christians Are Citizens, Not Strangers

Urges Aid Agencies to Help Eastern Faithful Remain in Homeland
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 24, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Christians living in the Middle East should be treated not as strangers, but as citizens, Benedict XVI said today to members of the Assembly of Societies for Aid to Eastern Churches (ROACO).

In an address he gave to close the 84th plenary session of the aid agencies, which took place this week in the Vatican, the Pope urged those present to "do everything possible [...] to ensure that the pastors and faithful of Christ can remain in the East where they were born."

"The East is their earthly homeland," he added. "It is there that they are called today to promote, without distinction, the good of all mankind. Everyone professing this faith must be recognized as having equal dignity and true freedom, thus favoring more fruitful ecumenical and interreligious collaboration."


June 25, 2011

Sabeel | Sabeel's Open Letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury

In a BBC news interview, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, erroneously cited anti-Christian Muslim extremism as the primary cause of the Palestinian Christian exodus from the Holy Land.  Below is an open letter from Sabeel founder/director Naim Ateek in Jerusalem, followed by links to a letter from Kairos Palestine coordinator, Rifat Odeh Kassis, and to the BBC News page with part of the interview with Archbishop Williams, including an audio file.

His Grace Rowan Williams
Archbishop of Canterbury
Lambeth Palace

23 June 2011

Dear Archbishop Williams,
Greetings from Jerusalem!

Last week at Sabeel, we had the privilege of having the Anglican Consultative Council delegation headed by Archbishop Michael Jackson. We seized the opportunity to convey to them our response to your interview on the BBC regarding your concern about the dwindling presence of Arab Christians of the Middle East. The concern is genuine and sincere, unfortunately, your words were negatively received by our people; and we have been asked by our friends - locally and internationally - to make a public response.

1. As Palestinian Christians, we perceive ourselves as an integral part of the Palestinian people. We might be a very small religious community nowadays but due to our long rootedness in our land, we do not refer to ourselves as a minority. Moreover, as Palestinians, whether Christian or Muslim, we equally live under the oppression of the illegal Israeli occupation of our country. As Palestinians - Christians and Muslims - we share the same hopes and aspirations and we struggle for freedom and human dignity together.


June 25, 2011

Zenit | Israeli Official Praises Vatican for WWII Aid to Jews

Church Always Helped When It Could, Says Ambassador 
By Chiara Santomiero

ROME, JUNE 23, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Claims that the Church and Pope Pius XII failed to help Jews during World War II are simply false, says the Israeli ambassador to the Holy See, Mordechay Lewy.

The envoy declared this today when he conferred the posthumous honor of Righteous Among the Nations on Father Gaetano Piccinini, a priest of the Sons of Divine Providence.

"It would be an error to say that the Catholic Church, the Vatican or the Pope himself were opposed to activities to save Jews," Lewy said. "It is quite certain that it was the contrary: They always gave the help that they could."

The ambassador recalled that the Vatican was unable to prevent a train from taking Jews to the extermination camps after the Oct. 16-18 Nazi raid. This "can only have contributed to reinforcing the desire, on the part of the Vatican, to offer its own premises as a refuge for Jews," Lewy said.

"We must recognize that the train that left on 18 October 1943 was the only convoy that the Nazis managed to organize in Rome for Auschwitz," he added.

The ambassador noted how after the 1943 raid, "monasteries and orphanages run by religious orders opened their doors to Jews and we have reason to believe that this happened under the supervision of the highest authorities of the Vatican who, therefore, were informed about these gestures."

Father Piccinini, in fact, was a protagonist in that effort. Using the network of houses run by his order, he was able to save many Jews, including members of the family who requested his recognition as Righteous Among the Nations.


June 16, 2011

Sojourners | My Search for the Truth About the Middle East by Lynn Hybels

In 2008, as I heard the increasing public rhetoric of hostility emanating from the Middle East, I found myself wondering what Jesus would say and do if he were here in the flesh today. It was with that question that I began traveling to the Middle East — seven times in the last two-and-a-half years. My goal on those trips was simply to listen and learn. I began by asking Arab Christians from Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Israel, and Palestine what they wished American Christians knew about them and about the Middle East.

Thus began my education about U.S. foreign policy, Christian/Muslim relationships, and the conflict between Arabs and Jews in the Holy land. Along the way, I talked with Middle Eastern Jews and Muslims who echoed many of the same themes expressed by Middle Eastern Christians. Their united voice has challenged my perspective on what it means to follow Jesus into the complex world of the Middle East. Their lives and their stories call me to try to be a peacemaker.


June 12, 2011

Global Ministries | Easter Greetings from Jerusalem

Written by Dr. Bernard Sabella, Exectutive Director of the Middle East Council of Churches' Department of Service for Palestinian Refugees

April 18, 2011

Spring is the time for the land and the people to be reborn. While our winter has not delivered all the hoped for rains, yet it left behind enough nourishment for the landscape to bloom with a variety of wild flowers and green shrubbery. Looking from one’s windows the cocolicos are sprouting all over and the hills around Jerusalem are beautiful, or as we used to say when we were children, the hills are dressed with their best to welcome spring.

In our indigenous Christian traditions spring and Easter go together. They both designate rebirth and as the land reaffirms its colorful rejuvenation, Palestinian Christians reaffirm their inherited faith through the rites and rituals of Easter that insist on perseverance, renewal and continuity.

Celebration of Easter, however, is not an exclusively ethnocentric group exercise. In its ideal message it signifies that by our insistence on preservation, we want to continue to be part of our society and of the wider world around us and not to simply maintain our heritage and traditions. We may be little or small as a community remaining in the holy land but our presence, like the annual Easter celebrations, carries a strong message of love to the land, love to our people and hope in the future.

This Easter season, we do not see any breakthrough in the political process that seeks to end the conflict in our wounded land. Our people remains under occupation and sporadic martial and violent events remind us that we all live in uncertainty....


June 9, 2011

World Council of Churches | WCC general secretary welcomes common date of Pentecost

The general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, has welcomed that in 2011 both eastern and western Christian traditions are marking Pentecost on the same day, and has urged a redoubling of efforts to reach a common date in the future.  

“Pentecost marks the coming of the Holy Spirit to empower the church,” said Tveit. “In a world divided by poverty and violence, we give thanks for the gift of the Holy Spirit amongst us, to strengthen us and make us one in our witness to the peace of the Christ.”  

In 2011, Pentecost falls on Sunday 12 June. The day occurs fifty days after Easter and is seen as the feast of the church.  

Because the date of Easter is calculated using either the Julian calendar used by most Orthodox churches, or the Gregorian calendar, Christians of eastern and western traditions often celebrate Pentecost on different Sundays.

There have been five times in the past 10 years when Easter and thus Pentecost have fallen on the same date for all Christians. In coming years this will be less frequent with the next coinciding dates being in 2017 and 2025.

Tveit reiterated an appeal for Christians to reach agreement about a common date for Easter. He expressed the hope that the issue could be part of regional and confessional preparations for the next WCC Assembly which will take place in 2013 in Busan, South Korea.

Significant work was undertaken in the 1980s on agreeing a common date at the Pan-Orthodox level, but implementation was difficult at the time because many churches concerned were living under communist regimes. This work was taken up at a consultation in 1997 in Aleppo, Syria, sponsored jointly by the WCC and the Middle East Council of Churches, which proposed a way of calculating the date of Easter so that it would always be celebrated on the same day.

"I hope that in the decade ahead, Christians from different traditions will work together in trust and mutual accountability to come to agreement about a common date for Easter, on the basis of the process laid out in the Aleppo document," said the WCC general secretary.


June 9, 2011

Sabeel |Call for Peace in Jerusalem

41 As {Jesus} came near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, ‘If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” (Luke 19: 41-42)

During this World Week for Peace in Palestine‐Israel convened by the world Council of Churches as a joint action for a just peace, we, Palestinian Christians want to send a message to all our brothers and sisters in the world that focuses on Jerusalem:

Due to its significance for the whole land, the city of Jerusalem has come to encapsulate the hopes, desires, and dreams of millions of people that are concerned for its well-being and the well-being of all its inhabitants. Jerusalem has been a symbol, model, and paradigm par excellence of peace throughout its history. And today, what happens in and to Jerusalem is an omen for the whole country. It can be an omen for good or bad, for conflict and disaster or for peace and neighborliness.

In its present situation, Jerusalem cannot, in any way, stand for or represent the dreams that its citizens wish for it. Today’s picture of Jerusalem continues to be one of occupation by Israel, discrimination against and oppression of its Palestinian inhabitants and the denial of their human and political rights. Today’s Jerusalem cannot even come close to the hopes, desires, and dreams that its people long for. What the Israeli government is doing through its policies of Judaizing the city and displacing its Palestinian citizens and replacing them with Jewish settlers is a recipe for disaster.

Therefore, we reiterate our vision for the peace of Jerusalem....  Read more   


June 8, 2011

Zenit | Jesuits: Dialogue Needed to Achieve Unity in Syria

Anti-Regime Protests Have Left 1,200 Dead Since March

DAMASCUS, JUNE 6, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The Jesuits in Syria are calling for dialogue and national unity in the face of a bloody crackdown by government forces on protesters who have been calling for the end of President Bashar al-Assad's rule since mid-March.

Last week in Damascus the Jesuit community gathered to pray and meditate on recent events, which have left some 1,200 dead, including 77 children. The situation began to escalate Monday when Syrian authorities claimed that some 120 military personnel were killed in the northwestern town of Jisr al-Shughour by "armed gangs," claims that have yet to be verified by eyewitness accounts.

"Given the gravity of the situation, on behalf of all those who have shed blood," the priests said in a statement sent to ZENIT, "we implore Syrians on all sides to mobilize urgently to build a sincere national dialogue in order to find a solution to this crisis."

"We, Christians, consider national unity as the guarantee of our very existence, and the loss of this unity as a threat of disappearance, hardening and collapse," the priests added. "That is why we wish to undertake a function that will enable us to reinforce national unity, reactivating the values that are essential in keeping with our point of view."

With regard to dialogue, the Jesuits said that it must be "sincere" and "moderate," and that each one must take the ideas of the other into consideration. They also invited everyone to reject violence, and especially urged armed military and police personnel to fully respect the dignity of every person.

"Every believer must be, in all realms of his social life, both in the family as well as on the street or at work, an effective element in the realization of national unity," the text added. "He cannot take refuge in a negative neutrality, but must be an instrument of peace."

Read more             See also: Statement of Jesuits in Syria

June 4, 2011

Zenit | Palestinian President Visits Benedict XVI

Leaders Note Legitimate Aspirations for Independent State 
ROME, JUNE 3, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI and the president of the Palestinian Authority today discussed peace in the Middle East and a state for Palestine with internationally recognized borders.

Mahmoud Abbas visited the Pope today at the Vatican, going on to meet with the Holy Father's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for relations with states.

According to a Vatican communiqué, the "central issue of the cordial conversations" was peace in the Holy Land.



June 3, 2011

Zenit | Holy Land Monks Moving to Safer Quarters

Monastery Under Way at Site of Multiplication of Loaves and Fish

ROME, JUNE 2, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The monks who serve as an ongoing memorial of Jesus' miraculous multiplication of the loaves and fish are moving into safer quarters.

With the support of the international charity Aid to the Church in Need, the German Benedictine community that lives at the site held to be the place of the miracle are readying for their new living and praying space.

Benedictine Father Jeremiah Marseille spoke to Aid to the Church in Need about progress on the construction.

He first explained that the former house was unsafe, as it was built in the 1950s with inadequate foundations. "The house is moving, as we live in an area of earthquakes at the beginning of the Jordan valley," he said.

"The second reason [for moving] is more important," the priest continued. "We not only need a house, we need a cloister where the monastic life can increase and grow."



June 3, 2011

Ma'an | Christians plan Mass at Bethlehem checkpoint

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Churches and community groups from Bethlehem and Jerusalem will hold a church service on Saturday next to the checkpoint dividing the cities, a statemet said Monday.

After the service, at the Benedictine Church abutting the checkpoint, congregants will process by candlelight along the separation wall, and gather to watch presentations and films projected on the wall about the restrictions on Palestinians' access to Jerusalem, according to organizers.

The evening event is part of the World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel, an annual campaign organized by the global Christian body, the World Council of Churches, "for a just peace in the region through an end to the occupation," the release said. The week, which ends Saturday, sees Christians in more than 20 countries conduct prayer, education and advocacy activities, it added.



June 1, 2011

English PAL: Your door to Palestine in English


Currently we are having some ads online which might be of interest to Al-Bushra followers: 

With warm regards from Jerusalem,
EnglishPAL Team


EnglishPAL is the website for Palestine including Jerusalem and Gaza to post job vacancies, internship opportunities, courses, sale offers, cultural events and much more. We are online now since 2 years and with over 30.000 clicks / month already very popular and known within the community and of course growing ... Our users are locals and foreigners living in the country. EnglishPAL is non-religious and non-political and free of charge!


May 31, 2011

Sabeel North America | Wave of Prayer for Thursday, June 2, 2011


Each Thursday at noon in Jerusalem, Sabeel holds a Communion service that is open to the community. It is a time to join together to celebrate the Eucharist, to discuss how the scriptures apply to our lives today, and to pray for the specific needs of this region. Following the 2006 Sabeel International Conference, the Friends of Sabeel coordinators met and discussed the idea of "Waves of Prayer." The premise is that in their respective time zones, individuals and groups around the world will pray together at 12:00 on Thursdays, in solidarity with Sabeel in Jerusalem and with "Friends of Sabeel" worldwide. Starting in Australia, passing through Palestine, and on around the world we will pray for Peace with Justice and focus on specific issues each week.    


Wave of Prayer for Thursday, June 2, 2011


► With this week's commemoration of the 1967 War marking Israel's invasion and control of East Jerusalem, Gaza, the Golan Heights and the West Bank, and especially with the Jewish celebrations for Jerusalem Day, which marks the "unification of Jerusalem" in violation of International Law, set to take place in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, we remember in prayer all those who became refugees during this Naksa, or "setback," and those who continue to suffer under forty-four years of illegal Israeli occupation. Our prayers and actions remain for a just resolution based on the 1967 borders, which has long been the basis for negotiations to ensure peace for everyone in this land.

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