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
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.Read More
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.Read More
Prof. 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.Read More
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?”
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:
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?”Read More
In his message to those on his Palestinian Christians mailing list, Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh responds to Brexit.
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).Read More
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.Read More
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?Read More
Leaders of two Churches say they are convinced of ‘crucial importance’ of furthering their communion
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.Read More
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.”Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
(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.Read More
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.Read More
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.”Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
by 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.Read More
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.
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.Read More
The two-state solution is anchored in a two-slate solution. –Americans for Peace Now*
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More