Born in Beirut, Lebanon on August 31, 1950 (Son of Fawzi Francis Kobti and Verginie Elias El-Sharif). Studied at the Latin Patriarchate Seminary of Jerusalem from 1963-1975. Worked as a teacher at Terra Santa College 1973-1974 (Franciscan Fathers of the Custody of the Holy...Read More
Seeking truth and justice
Vatican City, Sep 15, 2016 / 05:35 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis has issued new changes to canon law that modify Latin Church code with an eye towards clarifying ministry to Eastern Catholics.
The Pope cited concern for harmony between the different codes. The name of the Pope’s apostolic letter, “De Concordia inter Codices,” in fact means “Concerning harmony between laws.” It is dated May 31 and was released Sept. 15.
The changes concern topics like baptism, marriage, and change of ecclesiastical rite.Read More
Statement by general secretaries Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit (World Council of Churches) and Jim Winkler (National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA)
This statement is also available in Arabic (pdf, 7.5 MB)
NCC/WCC Consultation on the Holy Land
14 September, 2016
No people should be denied their rights and, certainly, no people should be denied their rights for generations. The unresolved conflict in Israel and Palestine is primarily about justice, and until the requirement of justice is met, peace cannot be established. As Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza nears the 50-year mark, generations have been suffering under this reality. The possibilities of a viable two-state solution, for which we have long advocated, are more elusive and, seemingly, more unrealistic than ever.Read More
The Editors, America Magazine, the National Catholic Weekly, September 19, 2016
On Aug. 29, the Obama administration welcomed the 10,000th Syrian refugee into the United States, hitting a self-imposed target for 2016. Many will note that the number of Syrian refugees accepted for resettlement remains exceedingly small. Indeed the United States can and should do more.Read More
Christians can’t be second-class citizens if they are to remain in the Middle East, and the next United States administration will need to stand up for their rights, the head of the Knights of Columbus has said, Christian Telegraph reports according to Catholic News Agency.
Speaking at the National Advocacy Convention 2016 for persecuted Middle Eastern Christians, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus insisted that for Christians in the Middle East, “the system of religious apartheid in the region must end.”
“Our tax dollars to the region must not be used to rebuild a discriminatory system that continues to impose second-class citizenship upon religious minorities,” he added, insisting that U.S. aid “should be contingent on the application of full rights of citizenship to every citizen of Iraq and other countries in the region.”Read More
By Adam Shaw Published September 02, 2016 FoxNews.com
The Obama administration hit its goal this week of admitting 10,000 Syrian refugees — yet only a fraction of a percent are Christians, stoking criticism that officials are not doing enough to address their plight in the Middle East.
Of the 10,801 refugees accepted in fiscal 2016 from the war-torn country, 56 are Christians, or .5 percent.Read More
America Magazine, the National Catholic Review, September 19, 2016, from CNS, Staff and other sources
The Chaldean Catholic patriarch, Louis Sako of Baghdad, called for a united and strong stance—by Muslims and non-Muslims alike—to stop the spread of the “cancer” of the Islamic State and other terrorist groups. In a statement released on Aug. 27, the patriarch said it is time “for Muslims and non-Muslim people of goodwill around the world to deal seriously” with the situation, “especially, when we know that the majority of Muslims are neutral/unbiased, open-minded and willing to work hard for the benefit of their countries and their fellow citizens.”Read More
by Michael O’Loughlin | Sep 12 2016 | America Magazine, the National Catholic Review
Well, at least there’s room for improvement.
That could be the takeaway from a new Georgetown University report released on Monday that found fewer than two in 10 U.S. Catholics hold a favorable view of Muslims, with many possessing little understanding when it comes to the beliefs of the world’s second largest religion.Read More
Washington (Agenzia Fides), 16 September 2016 – Twelve members of the US House of Representatives – 9 elected in the Republican Party, and 3 elected in the Democratic Party – presented a resolution to the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House to ask the US Congress and the international community to promote the recognition by the Iraqi government of a Province corresponding to the Plain of Nineveh and organized according to legal criteria in line with the “self-determination by indigenous peoples”.Read More
Organizations in the Faith Forum on Middle East Policy send out action alerts monthly, focusing on different issues so that members of Congress hear consistently that their constituents support a just and lasting resolution to the Palestinian and Israeli conflict.
Join Christians and others around the world in praying, educating, and advocating for a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis through the World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel.
Scroll down to send a letter to your members of Congress.
by Cecile Klos
JERUSALEM – The Home Our Lady of Sorrows, located in the neighborhood of Ras El-Amud, celebrated 150 years of the Congregation founded in France. The feast brought together many friends of the community. There was a combination of joy and excitement in the celebration of 150 years of love offered without distinction.
The home in Jerusalem is the last to celebrate the 150 years Jubilee of the congregation; after Beirut, Cairo, Alexandria and houses in France. The Home Our Lady of Sorrows invited friends, families of the residents and authorities for a great festive day. The morning and early afternoon were devoted to carnival games to the delight of children and adults.Read More
Received from Rev. Imad Twal, Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
Amman – On Thursday, September 15, 2016, the faithful came together in prayer during the inauguration ceremony of the Martyrs of Jordan Church in Marj Al- Hamam in Amman. The name of the church represents the Christian martyrs whose blood was shed on Jordanian soil in the early periods of Christianity, at the time of the Roman persecution of Christians.Read More
It is no surprise that the guaranteed $38 billion gift from U.S. taxpayers to Israel over the next ten years was not discussed Wednesday when President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu met at New York’s Lotte New York Palace Hotel.
The $38 billion gift was not discussed in the meeting because it was already a done deal, which Netanyahu hated.
Because the U.S. mainline media does such an ineffective job of covering anything to do with what Israel likes or dislikes, the $38 billion ten-year deal was made to look like Obama had caved in to Netanyahu.Read More
by Mazin Qumsiyeh in his email to Palestinian Christians, September 2, 1016
I just attended a demonstration by Israelis and Palestinians that fell under the rubric of demonstration for “peace based on two states for two people.” I won’t get into the issue of the two state “delusion” since I wrote a whole book on the subject which you can read here . But I do want to reflect on what I observed and show you some illustrative pictures of how such events are used in the Israeli hasbara (propaganda) campaigns. The Israelis were a mix of good intentioned individuals who knew nothing of the reality of settler colonialism that is the state of Israel or really knowledgeable Zionists who wanted to prove to Palestinians (us) that they are not as bad as they really are (and in the process say “look Israel is a democracy that allows opinions to be expressed). A good example of the latter category is this guy who is a good friend of a settler security official.Read More
Father Ziad Hilal, is a Syrian Jesuit priest who spent several years serving the Christian community in the Syrian city of Homs. He spoke Aug. 12 with international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, to report on his recent trip to Aleppo, Syria’s second-largest city, which is hotly contested between the regime and opposition forces.Read More
David Mizrahi, once a vocal anti-Arab hatemonger, makes amends in a heartfelt Facebook post, and begins preaching tolerance and acceptance. In the current climate in Jerusalem, that is a brave and commendable thing to do.
David Mizrahi was once a prominent member of La Familia, a notorious Jewish supremacist chapter of the Beitar Jerusalem fan club.
Three years ago, he famously refused to shake hands with professional Arab footballer Mohammed Ghadir. But on SundayRead More
It is not the bureaucracy that inspires me, or doctrine, or ancient rituals, or even the most glorious cathedral, temple or mosque, but rather a Catholic missionary doctor in Sudan treating bomb victims, an evangelical physician achieving the impossible in rural Angola, a rabbi battling for Palestinians’ human rights — they fill me with an almost holy sense of awe.
by Nicholas Kristof
ONE puzzle of the world is that religions often don’t resemble their founders.
Jesus never mentioned gays or abortion but focused on the sick and the poor, yet some Christian leaders have prospered by demonizing gays. Muhammad raised the status of women in his time, yet today some Islamic clerics bar women from driving, or cite religion as a reason to hack off the genitals of young girls. Buddha presumably would be aghast at the apartheid imposed on the Rohingya minority by Buddhists in Myanmar
“Our religions often stand for the very opposite of what their founders stood for,” notes Brian D. McLaren, a former pastor, in a provocative and powerful new book, “The Great Spiritual Migration.”Read More
Twelve kilometers northeast of Ramallah, Taybeh is home to approximately 1,500 people. From its elevated location on a rocky hill of 869 meters, the village overlooks the wilderness, the depression of the Jordan Valley, Jericho, and the Dead Sea.
The history of Taybeh goes back more than 5,000 years, to the time when it was first settled by Canaanites. The Hebrew Bible calls the place Ophrah; however, in the time of Christ the place was already known as Aphram, which is believed to be its original Canaanite name. According to the Evangelist John (11:54), Jesus found refuge there after performing the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead.Read More
by Tina Basem, editor of This Week in Palestine
(September 2016) Persons with disabilities form a diverse segment of Palestinian society that is making important contributions in a wide range of fields – despite numerous challenges in addition to, and in some cases exacerbated by, the difficulties posed by the political situation. This issue gives you a glimpse into their lives. It focuses both on trials and achievements and shows the efforts undertaken with the aim to create the circumstances necessary for allowing their full participation in society. We need the contribution of their diverse skills and frequently extraordinary strength and wisdom. Much has been done in recent years, more measures are planned, and even more needs to be accomplished.Read More
Video presenting people with their DNA results forces us to confront our biases against othersRead More
Thomas McKiernan, President of the Commission for the Holy Land of the Grand Magisterium, gives an overview of ongoing and future projects of support in the Holy Land which add to the monthly of the Order to all institutions of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem including parishes, schools, and medical facilities.Read More
by Yotam Moram, political organizer, educator, and writer based in New York
August 27, 2016 – A BRIEF NOTE TO THE READER FROM THE AUTHOR: I’ve been writing this piece for a year and a half. I’ve thought a lot about how complicated it is to share something like this in a time of such upheaval — in a country where an unarmed Black person is murdered by cops practically every day, at a time when our movement is in a period of intense grieving and fierce uprising around this and so many other life and death struggles. What I didn’t expect, however, was that folks would be actively talking about anti-Semitism in the movement at exactly the time I wanted to publish this. The brilliant and powerful Vision for Black Lives and the responses to it from a dozen different directions have put debate about anti-Semitism back on the Facebook feeds of many of my movement partners and friends. It’s important to me to be clear that this piece is not a response to those events or statements. This has nothing to do with that. And yet, in another way, it has everything to do with it. This piece is a deep reflection on anti-Semitism and Jewish assimilation in the movement. It is a glimpse at how those things hurt Jews and the movement as a whole, an invitation to hard but compassionate discussion, and a call to arms for all of us, but above all, to Jews in the movement. I imagine it not as the answer, but as a beginning, alongside many other beginnings that have come before. I invite you, then, into that beginning with me, and to the long road ahead toward collective liberation — toward the world we all deserve.
I’m in my Savta’s breezy kitchen in Haifa. The balcony is open, bringing in gusts of warm wind from the Carmel Mountains. The tiled floor keeps my bare feet cool, tucked under my grandma’s tiny kitchen table. She feeds me chicken with onions, white rice, and her famous pickled eggplants that she makes especially when she knows I’m coming over. She keeps bringing more food, as if she is trying to empty the fridge before a big trip. I tell her I can’t possibly eat it all, but, like any good grandma, she ignores me. Finally Savta sits. She waves away my compliments, folds her hands neatly, and smiles, bashfully even, as she watches me enjoy her cooking.Read More
by James Zogby, President, Arab American Institute; author, ‘Arab Voices’
During the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of receiving visits from Ayman Odeh, Ahmad Tibi, and most recently Basel Ghattas—as they passed through Washington. All are Palestinian citizens of Israel. And all are Members of the Israeli Knesset, part of the Joint Arab List that won a record 13 seats in the last Israeli election. It was a delight to sit with them and learn from them not only about the difficulties they face, but the progress they have made.Read More
(World Council of Churches) 25 August, 2016 – “I have an absolute confidence in your youthful and great enthusiasm and your heightened state of awareness that you will be ambassadors of peace, mercy and cooperation among all peoples.” This message, from Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Dr Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, visibly uplifted and inspired young people attending a seminar, “Youth Engagement, Religion and Violence,” in Cairo this week.
About 40 young people from Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East met with Al-Tayyeb and other religious leaders to discuss the impact of religious discourse on contributions to peace-building.Read More
by Matt Hadro
(Catholic News Agency) Cairo, Egypt, Aug 30, 2016 / 06:00 am – Christians in Egypt are hoping that a new law will make it easier for them to build churches, particularly after old laws effectively forced Christians to celebrate Mass in house churches.Read More
The film wants to show the world that Egypt is a safe country and a symbol of tolerance. It wants to show that Egypt embraced and protected Christ and his mother….
by Safiaa Mounir*, translated by Sami-Joe Abboud
(Al Monitor) CAIRO, August 25, 2016 — Following years of preparation, Egyptian film director Ahmed Maher says that progress is being made on his multimillion dollar film about the early life of Jesus Christ and the cast will be announced within a month.Read More
If Mr. Netanyahu really wants to know what ethnic cleansing means, he should ask the Palestinian citizens of Israel. 85% of the Palestinians living in what is now Israel were forced out in the 1948 Nakba – just because they weren’t Jews.
by Ahmad Tibi, deputy speaker of the Knesset, member of parliament for the Ta’al party, and leader of the Ta’al (the Arab Movement for Change) party
(Haaretz) September 11, 2016 – Mr. Netanyahu’s recent comparison of Palestinian citizens of Israel with its illegal settlers in Occupied Palestine is not only immoral, but a total departure from rationality, history and Israel’s obligations under international law. He should realize that no matter Israel’s institutionalized system of discrimination, this is our homeland and we are here to stay.
First of all, Palestinian citizens of Israel are not foreign immigrants that came to Israel and applied for visas or citizenship, rather Israel went to them. They are the indigenous population of the country. They lived there way long before the Zionist movement was created. They are those who later survived the Nakba of 1948, where 85% of the Palestinians living in what is now Israel were ethnically cleansed only because they were not Jews. Yes, they can tell Mr. Netanyahu about the meaning of ethnic cleansing on this land.Read More
Churches for Middle East Peace: Join over 20 Christian leaders of national denominations and organizations in calling upon the major 2016 presidential candidates to pledge, if elected, to take urgent and vigorous new steps to seek creative political solutions that will foster a just and lasting peace in Israel and Palestine.Read More
[Episcopal News Service] September 9, 2016 – Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has joined 20 other Christian leaders in writing to the U.S. presidential candidates urging them to speak forcefully and provide leadership on ending the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The leaders, organized as Churches for Middle East Peace and representing most of the mainline Christian denominations in the United States, expressed their ‘deep concern about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Israeli military occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, now in its 50th year’ and asked the presidential candidates to pledge, ‘if elected, to take urgent and vigorous new steps to seek creative political solutions that will foster a just and lasting peace and help each party to realize self-determination with necessary confidence building measures to build mutual security.’Read More
by Matt Duss, Foundation for Middle East Peace
September 9, 2016
Earlier today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office tweeted out a short video in which Netanyahu confronts the claim, made regularly by the United States and the rest of international community, that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are an obstacle to a Palestinian state. Netanyahu rejects this, which is not surprising, but he goes even farther, condemning the idea of settlement withdrawal as “ethnic cleansing”:
[T]he Palestinian leadership actually demands a Palestinian state with one precondition: No Jews. There’s a phrase for that. It’s called ethnic cleansing.
Americans for Peace Now has an excellent takedown of this canardRead More
by Micah Halpern, The Observer, August 26, 2016
The Jewish ultra-Orthodox media is facing a sex scandal that is unique to them. It centers on the US presidential campaign. The problem is not political platforms, policies or promises. The problem is that one of the people fighting to be the most powerful leader in the free world happens to be a woman.
The ultra-Orthodox, or “hareidi” press, has always prided itself on being family-friendly—not dissimilar to the evangelical Christian media in the United States. That definition, however, is taken to the extreme and excludes all photos of women. Even women’s names are not published.
So what happens when you are an ultra-Orthodox media platform and one of the most important stories of the year revolves around a woman? How do you cover the US presidential election when one of the candidates is named Hillary?Read More