Seeking truth and justice

Pope Francis mourns victims of ‘heinous’ attack on Istanbul airport

Posted on Jun 30, 2016 in Christians, Ecumenism, Holy Land, Middle East, NGO, Turkey, Vatican, World

Chaos at Istanbul Ataturk airport.

by Iacopo Scaramuzzi, Vatican Insider

Vatican City, June 29, 2016 – Today the Pope prayed for peace in the wake yesterday’s airport attack in the Turkish city of Istanbul. “Dear brothers and sisters, yesterday evening, in Istanbul, a brutal terrorist attack was committed, which has killed and injured many people. We pray for the victims, for their families, and for the beloved people of Turkey. May the Lord convert the hearts of the violent, and sustain our feet on the way of peace,” the Pope said during his 29 June Angelus address after celebrating Mass for the solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. “Let us all pray in silence,” Francis said, before reciting an Ave Maria with faithful in St. Peter’s Square.

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Lebanese Christian village hit with eight suicide attacks in one day

Posted on Jun 30, 2016 in Christians, Human rights, Islamic State, Lebanon, Syria

Lebanese army soldiers secure the area at the site where suicide bomb attacks took place in the Christian village of al-Qaa in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, June 27, 2016. (photo by REUTERS/Hassan Abdallah) Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/06/lebanon-al-qaa-attacks-border-syria-refugees.html#ixzz4D1GUjK8C

by Mona Alami*

AL-QAA, Lebanon — A wave of suicide bombings targeted the Lebanese Christian town of al-Qaa, which borders Syria, on June 27. In the early hours, four suicide bombers detonated their explosive belts, followed in the late evening by four other suicide bombings. The attacks are an indicator of attempts by Syrian terror organizations such as Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State (IS) to break the siege imposed on them by Lebanese intelligence and security services. These attacks could also further fuel sectarian tensions in an area where the fallout of the Syrian conflict has created deep divisions across religious communities.

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Palestinians are the endogenous people of the Southern Land of Canaan…

Posted on Jun 30, 2016 in Christians, Holy Land, Jews, Middle East, Muslims, Palestine, World

mazin qumsiyeh w175Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh writes to members of the Palestinian Christians online group:

Palestinians are the endogenous people of the Southern Land of Canaan (Western Part of the Fertile Crescent), the area between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan. Key milestones in human civilization occurred in this Land of Canaan: animal and plant domestication, development of the alphabet, and development of laws and religions.

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Wallwritings: Was the Brexit Vote “Good for the Jews”?

Posted on Jun 29, 2016 in Israel, Jews, World

It is no surprise that on both sides of the Atlantic, tribal media from all persuasions responded to the surprising Brexit vote with the Jewish mother’s question, “is it good for us?”

Queen Elizabeth and Ambassador Regev (Photo by Dominic Lipinsk for Reuters)

by James M. Wall

A Jewish mother hears her family cheering. She cries out, “what happened?” One of the men gathered around the radio, shouts back, “Mel Ott just hit a home run!”

She responds, “Is it good for the Jews”?

That is the version of the story I first heard in my sports writing days. Ott was not Jewish, but he played for, and managed, the New York Giants, which had a large Jewish fan base.

Stanley Fish explained the importance of the question of what is good for Jews, when he wrote in the New York Times, March 4, 2007:

    When I was growing up in the ’40s and ’50s, a single question was asked in my neighborhood of every piece of news, large or small, local or national: “Is it good for the Jews?” We have now learned to identify this question in all of its versions – Is it good for the Catholics? Is it good for the Latinos?
    Is it good for the gays? and on and on – as the paradigmatic question of identity politics, the politics that is derived not from some general, even universal, assertion of what is good, but from a particularized concern with insular interests. Is it good for us, for those of our kind, for our tribe?

It is no surprise that on both sides of the Atlantic, tribal media from all persuasions responded to the surprising Brexit vote with the Jewish mother’s question, “is it good for us?”

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Europe: Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh responds to Brexit

Posted on Jun 29, 2016 in Christians, Human rights, Israel, Middle East, Palestine, World

In his message to those on his Palestinian Christians mailing list, Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh responds to Brexit.

mazin qumsiyeh w175

Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh

I wrote several articles over the past 20 years suggesting for the sake of Europe’s future to develop a more independent foreign policy and end US led NATO’s adventurism whether in Libya or the Ukraine. But looking at the British poll to exit Europe, we cannot just say “we told you so”. We cannot feel happy seeing Europe collapse even though we here in Palestine suffered and continue to suffer from European colonization (yes, Zionism that created Israel is European colonization).

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I’m Jewish, and I want people to boycott Israel

Posted on Jun 28, 2016 in Christians, Human rights, Israel, Jews, Narrative, NGO, Palestine, Peace

by Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace

In 2009, I was living in Tel Aviv during Operation Cast Lead. During that offensive, Israel killed about 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza. When small numbers of us went out into the streets to protest the war, we were often pelted with eggs or attacked by passersby. When I dropped my children off at their preschool, parents chatted as if nothing unusual was going on. When they asked me what was wrong, I would tell them I was deeply upset about what was happening just 40 miles away. Their response: awkward silence, or an angry defense of Israel’s actions.

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U.S. Jesuit Magazine: Boycotts Get Out of Hand

Posted on Jun 28, 2016 in Christians, Human rights, Israel, Palestine, World


by the Editors of America, the National Catholic Review, July 4, 2016

On June 5, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York announced an executive order banning state agencies from doing business with firms associated with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which boycotts Israel’s companies and products because of its policies toward Palestinians. “If you boycott Israel,” said Mr. Cuomo, “New York will boycott you.” With so many campaigns to financially punish nations, companies and even individuals with controversial views, counter-boycotts seem inevitable. Will there now be a triple boycott by the B.D.S. movement against New York over Mr. Cuomo’s boycott against boycotters?

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Pope Bids Farewell to Armenia After Visit Marked by Symbols of Unity

Posted on Jun 27, 2016 in Christians, Ecumenism, World

Leaders of two Churches say they are convinced of ‘crucial importance’ of furthering their communion

SS. Papa Francesco – Viaggio Apostolico Armenia Preghiera per la Pace 25-06-2016 @Servizio Fotografico – L’Osservatore Romano

by Kathleen Naab, Papal Trips, June 26, 2016

Christian unity is one of Pope Francis’ great passions, and he often reminds the faithful that it is not an optional cause, but a clear mandate of Our Lord. He also likes to recall that those who persecute Christians often don’t care what denomination their victims belong to, and this is the case in so many regions of persecution today.

His just-concluded visit to Armenia gave the Holy Father a chance to emphasize these points at the side of Catholicos Karekin II, leader of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

The Armenian Apostolic Church doesn’t recognize the fifth-century Council of Chalcedon and has been separated from the Catholic Church since then. However, the last few decades have seen an increase in collaboration and friendship, under both Francis’ and Karekin’s predecessors.

Today Francis and Karekin promulgated a “common declaration,” and from the Monastery of Khor Virap, simultaneously sent a pair of doves off in the shadow of Mount Ararat. They also together lit a candle in the monastery.

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Presbyterians approve report re-evaluating two-state solution in Israel/Palestine

Posted on Jun 25, 2016 in Christians, Human rights, Israel, Justice, Middle East, Narrative, Palestine, Peace

Frances Lin (left) and Amy Fowler deliver the report of the Middle East Issues Committee. —Michael Whitman

Portland, June 25, 2016 – After a debate that stretched over the dinner hour, the 222nd General Assembly (2016) approved a lengthy report containing a re-evaluation of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s historic support of a two-state solution in Israel/Palestine.

The document, “Israel-Palestine: For Human Values in the Absence of a Just Peace,” says the PC(USA) “should advance those efforts that best accord with its values . . . including, but not limited to, that of two sovereign states—Israel and Palestine.”

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Message of Father Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of Latin Patriarchate, to the Diocese

Posted on Jun 24, 2016 in Christians, Ecumenism, Holy Land, Interreligious dialogue, Vatican

Message of Father Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of Latin Patriarchate, to the Diocese

Message to the Diocese

June 24, 2016

Beloved Brothers and Sisters,

The Lord give you peace!

I have been asked to “return to Jerusalem” (cf. Lk 24), like the Apostles after “the events in Jerusalem” and the encounter with the Risen One. Through the Pope, the Lord has asked me to return to the Holy City after my experience as Custos of the Holy Land.

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Father Pizzaballa nominated as Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate

Posted on Jun 24, 2016 in Christians, Cyprus, Holy Land, Israel, Jordan, Vatican

Father Pizzaballa nominated as Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate



Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, June 24, 2016


His Holiness Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of His Beatitude Patriarch Fouad Twal, having reached the legal age, according to article 401, §1 of the Code of Canon Law. His Holiness has appointed the Very Reverend Pierbattista Pizzaballa, OFM, former Custos of the Holy Land for twelve years, as Apostolic Administrator sede vacante of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, until the appointment of a new Patriarch.

The Bishops, clergy and faithful of the Latin Patriarchate sincerely thank His Beatitude Patriarch Fouad Twal who has just completed his mission and welcome the Apostolic Administrator with best wishes in his new mission. The entire Diocese joins in prayer for the intentions of the Patriarch Emeritus and the new Apostolic Administrator.

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Palestinians move into new city, part of statehood dream

Posted on Jun 24, 2016 in Christians, Human rights, Israel, Middle East, Muslims, Palestine, Peace

In this June 4, 2016 photo, a Palestinian family leaves their newly delivered apartment in the West Bank city of Rawabi, north of Ramallah. After years of setbacks, Palestinians are starting to move into their first planned city being built in the West Bank — a move that isn’t just about real estate but also a symbol of their aspirations for statehood after nearly 50 years of Israeli military occupation. Though Rawabi is years from being finished, the city is a rare source of pride and excitement for the territory at a time of growing malaise over a standstill in Mideast peace efforts. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser) (The Associated Press)

(Associated Press) RAWABI, West Bank, June 14, 2016 – After years of setbacks, Palestinians are proudly starting to move into their first planned city being built in the West Bank — a move that isn’t just about real estate but also a symbol of their quest for statehood after nearly 50 years of Israeli military occupation.

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Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa: 12 Years as the Guardian of Mount Zion

Posted on Jun 23, 2016 in Christians, Ecumenism, Holy Land, Israel, Middle East, Syria, Vatican

A special video on the mission of the Custos of the Holy Land, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa. Twelve years of meetings, initiatives and challenges.

“Guardian of Mount Zion and of the Holy Sepulcher for 12 years” is the theme of the special video made as a tribute to Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa. He himself recounts the challenges and joys of these past 12 years in an interview.

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Can the Chinese save Israel’s tourism industry?

Posted on Jun 23, 2016 in Christians, Israel, Jews, Middle East, World

As security concerns continue to weaken the Israeli tourism sector, Israel’s Tourism Ministry is investing heavily in efforts to expand its still nascent Chinese market. “Chinese recreational tourists get more or less the same tour that Chinese Christians get: Nazareth, around the Sea of Galilee and countless churches in Jerusalem. The Chinese see it as a waste of Israel’s potential.”

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (C) is escorted by Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitch (R) during his visit to the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem’s Old City, Dec. 20, 2013. (photo by REUTERS/Ammar Awad)

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After War Recovery Program: Caritas Jerusalem in Gaza

Posted on Jun 22, 2016 in Christians, Human rights, Interreligious dialogue, NGO, Palestine, World

Fr. Raed Abusahlia, General Director, Caritas Jerusalem, sends two videos that show “show part of our work in Gaza where we built child friendly spaces and intervened in psychosocial activities in schools through the After War Recovery Program.”

Below is his letter giving information about accomplishments carried out during the month of May.

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Patriarch Ignatius, head of Syrian Orthodox church, escapes suicide bomb attack

Posted on Jun 21, 2016 in Christians, Islamic State, Syria, Turkey

People and security forces belonging to the Sotoro, a Christian militia based in Syria’s northeast, gather at the site of a suicide bomb attack carried out on June 19, 2016 in the divided Syrian city of Qamishli, during an event commemorating the massacre of Christians more than a century ago. AFP

Three people were killed in north-east Syria, when the bomber attacked an event, which marked the massacre of Christians more than a century ago.

The head of the Syrian Orthodox Church had a narrow escape on Sunday when a suicide bomber blew himself up during a commemoration service which he attended.

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Holy Sepulchre: Restoration of the Tomb of Christ Begins

Posted on Jun 21, 2016 in Christians, Ecumenism, Holy Land

Photo: Holy Sepulchre June 2, 2016 © LPJ / Thomas Charrière

by Thomas Charrière, Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem

JERUSALEM – The Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem announced, after their Easter celebrated according to the Julian calendar, the restoration work of the Aedicule began discreetly on May 8, 2016. The work is now visible in all recent days.

The interior of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre is unrecognizable since the beginning of the week: scaffolding and construction equipment are stored across the small paved square, even around the Tomb of Christ. The restoration work of the Aedicule, announced two months ago by the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Custody of the Holy Land has begun.

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Israel 2016: A house divided

Posted on Jun 20, 2016 in Human rights, Israel, Jews, Muslims, Palestine, Peace

My Photoby Adam Keller, spokesperson for Gush Shalom

Sunday, June 5, 2016 – forty-ninth anniversary of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This year it intersected with “Jerusalem Day,” when the government of Israel and the extreme right celebrate according to the Jewish calendar what they call “The Liberation and Unification of Jerusalem”. It also coincided with the start of the Muslim fast of Ramadan. On that day I stood among several hundred demonstrators on the balcony of the Jerusalem Town Hall, to protest the annual “Dance of the Flags” held by the young Nationalist-Religious-Messianic of all types.

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Jo Cox on the arrest detention and treatment of children in occupied Palestinian territories

Posted on Jun 19, 2016 in Human rights, Israel, Justice, Middle East, NGO, Palestine

The Labour MP Jo Cox, who died aged 41 after being shot and stabbed on June 16, 2016, in her constituency of Batley and Spen, in West Yorkshire, was a woman who in many ways represented the character and style of the modern Labour party. She was widely viewed as someone who could have been a serious player in the party in the years to come. Below are her views on the arrest, detention, and treatment of children in the occupied territories.


Jo Cox speaking during the Westminster Hall debate.

Parliament held an urgent and thought provoking debate this week about the way in which children are arrested, detained and treated in the occupied Palestinian territories, writes Jo Cox.

Westminster Hall, the overspill venue for backbenchers to hold debates when time pressures on the main Chamber won’t allow, was jammed with MPs keen to contribute and listen to what was a fascinating, deeply troubling discussion.

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The “two-slate” solution

Posted on Jun 18, 2016 in Human rights, Israel, Jews, NGO, Palestine, Peace

The two-state solution is anchored in a two-slate solution. –Americans for Peace Now*

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Head of the Household Republic

Posted on Jun 17, 2016 in Israel, Muslims, Narrative, Palestine



by Samar Al-Dreamly*

Translated from the Arabic by Sammy Kirreh.

Head of the Household Republic” is a title that best describes the woman who was sitting in the middle of the house flanked by her sons, daughters, and grandchildren – in total 37 members of the family. Because she loves education, she let her sons and daughters study at local and international universities and they now have prestigious positions and are living comfortable lives at home and abroad. At age 72, her eyes retain the brightness of youth, and she has escaped the wrinkles of life; her face sparkles with freshness and vitality. In addition, she has a lively spirit and is active and energetic. Warmly welcoming us, she answered the interview questions with an open heart.

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James M. Wall: It’s Still The Occupation, Stupid

Posted on Jun 16, 2016 in Christians, Human rights, Israel, Muslims, Palestine, Peace

by James M. Wall

James Carville

Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary, swept into the White House in 1992 on the back of their campaign strategist, James Carville (right), a wise-cracking political operative from Louisiana.

“It’s the economy, stupid” was Carville’s greatest contribution to the first Clinton campaign victory. It is classic bumper sticker wisdom that cuts through inauthentic campaign rhetorical paragraphs.

“It’s still the occupation, stupid”, is a perfect way to begin all discussion within the Democratic Platform Committee relative to Israel’s obvious, illegal and immoral occupation.

Flaunting the obvious and playing to her Zionist-honed instincts, Hillary Clinton has instructed her platform writing team to keep the word “occupation” out of the party platform.

Out, out, damn spot, as in not there in any form or shape.

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How one Jerusalem neighborhood has been left to fend for itself

Posted on Jun 16, 2016 in Human rights, Israel, Palestine

The Jerusalem neighborhood Kufr Aqab has become no-man’s-land, as Israelis who have sovereignty do not provide services to its residents and the Palestinian Authority is not allowed to enter the area.


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Boxers for Peace: Back from Syria

Posted on Jun 15, 2016 in Christians, Interreligious dialogue, Islamic State, Muslims, Peace, Syria, World

On June 15, 2016, Father Dave Smith writes from Australia

We are back from Syria.

We’ve been back for a a couple of weeks now, in fact, and I apologise for not publishing much about our journey until now. In truth, I’m still trying to process it all.

It was a magnificent trip. We saw some amazing things and met many amazing people. As has always been my experience in Syria, we were greatly blessed by the generosity and grace of the Syrian people. They took us into their hearts and homes, showing us great love and hospitality.

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Story of a young Palestinian participating in the World Youth Day

Posted on Jun 15, 2016 in Christians, Holy Land, Narrative, Palestine, Peace, World

Firas Shomali is one of the participants in the World Youth Day in Poland this year. He is looking forward to eagerly meeting with His Holiness Pope Francis to enhance his spiritual and scouting experience.

by Firas Shomali
Participant in World Youth Day

My name is Firas Al Shomali, I am 25 years old from Beit Sahour, I am from “Our Lady of Fatima” Parish, I have a mobile phones, tablets and computers shop.

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Pinwheels for Peace: Bring Palestinian Children to US Congress

Posted on Jun 14, 2016 in Human rights, NGO, Palestine, Peace, World

USMovementWidget Wednesday
Donna Baranski-Walker of Rebuilding Alliance writes from Burlingame, California:

Wednesday morning, I need your help. With your donation, we’ll continue to send a social worker to Palestinian village schools to open hearts and ease trauma with Pinwheels for Peace. With your donation, we’ll bring Palestinian children to Congress on International Peace Day.

Children speaking to Senators and Representatives — this is the most effective way we’ve found to keep their villages standing. This is BIG: this time, we’re asking President Obama to meet them and use his leadership to stop the bulldozers.

Tomorrow morning, GlobalGiving is matching all donations by 50% (up to $1000 per donor), while their funds last. Please set your alarm, and give early. Their bonus starts at 9am Eastern, 8am Central, 7am Mountain, 6am Pacific, and 4pm in the afternoon Jerusalem time.

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Maryknoll: An Addiction to Occupation

Posted on Jun 14, 2016 in Christians, Israel, Justice, Middle East, Palestine, Peace, World

June 2, 2016 – Recent political developments in Israel give indication that the occupation, settlement construction and Gaza encirclement policies remain and are becoming more entrenched as part of the “status quo” relationship of the Israeli government with the Palestinians. In response, the hope for peace and an autonomous State of their own continues to diminish among the Palestinians and among promoters of justice, human rights and peace. An “addiction to occupation” metaphor on the part of successive Israeli governments, enabled by U.S. Jewish and evangelical friends along with other “enablers” in the U.S. Congress is perhaps becoming a more appropriate lens to explain the present stalemate. Like every addiction, the ‘status quo” requires increased “dosage”; in this case possible annexation of the territories already controlled. Increasing addiction also slowly and painfully destroys its host while causing immense pain to those “paying” for the addiction, in this case the Palestinians. However, as this “addiction” is becoming more obvious to many Israelis, friends of Israel and the Palestinians, the possibility of “withdrawal” health and hope is more than possible for all.

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Cat Zavis: Rabbi Lerner’s Talk at Ali’s Funeral — A Call for Love in the Face of Hatred

Posted on Jun 13, 2016 in Christians, Interreligious dialogue, Israel, Jews, Muslims, Palestine, Peace, World

Cat J. Zavis

Cat J. Zavis, Executive Director of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, writes: In case you who missed it, here’s Rabbi Lerner’s talk at Muhammed Ali’s funeral. His vision is all the more relevant given the horrific killings in Orlando and the way it is being used to promote fear, hatred, and Islamophobia. It has gone viral on social media and inspired over a million people already. If it inspires you as well, please read below for how to be an ally with Rabbi Lerner to help build the world he describes.

[See also Rabbi Michael Lerner Eulogizes Mohammad Ali]

Wondering why Rabbi Lerner got invited and how to respond to the handful of naysayers who have been upset by Lerner’s powerful message? Please read below.

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Education and interreligious dialogue focus in Galilee

Posted on Jun 13, 2016 in Christians, Ecumenism, Interreligious dialogue, Israel, Jews, Muslims, NGO, Palestine, Peace

Executive director Hussam Elias (middle), Secretary Jorjet Haddad (left) and Chairperson Farah Geraisy. © Claus Grue/WCC

by Claus Grue, communication consultant at the World Council of Churches

(World Council of Churches) Mary 31, 2016 – In the old city of Acre, which is located by the Mediterranean sea in northern Israel, almost all Palestinian families are displaced. Poverty, discrimination and lack of motivation for education are some of the daily obstacles people face.

Yet, Acre is just one example of the enormous needs for humanitarian assistance evident among Palestinians throughout Israel.

An important player in promoting a better life for marginalized people in Galilee is the Nazareth-based International Christian Committee in Israel (ICCI), a certified and officially registered ecumenical Christian organization and an affiliate of the Department of Services to Palestinian Refugees (DSPR).

The ICCI runs a number of programs designed to empower marginalized Palestinians.

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In seismic meeting, Pope Francis embraces Sunni Grand Imam Sheik Ahmed Muhammad Al-Tayyib

Posted on Jun 12, 2016 in Christians, Egypt, Interreligious dialogue, Middle East, Muslims

by By Ann Schneible, Catholic News Agency

Pope Francis embraced the Grand Imam Sheik Ahmed Muhammad Al-Tayyib during a meeting at the Vatican on May 23, a move which is being seen as a step toward reopening dialogue between Christians and Sunni Muslims.

“Our meeting is the message,” the Pope was heard to have said to the imam during the meeting.

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