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
World Council of Churches – Interreligious dialogue and cooperation provided the basis of talks on 30 September and 1 October 2016 addressing the theme “Towards an Integrated World,” a series of high-level discussions among the Muslim Council of Elders led by the Grand-Imam of Al-Azhar, based in Cairo, and representatives of the World Council of Churches (WCC), its member churches and ecumenical partners including the Lutheran World Federation.
The joint meeting at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva was followed by a public lecture at the WCC Ecumenical Institute in Bossey, Switzerland, where the Grand Imam spoke on “The Role of Religious Leaders in Achieving World Peace.”
A joint communiqué adopted by participants in the Geneva sessions pledged a continuation of practical cooperation among religious communities.
The statement added: “The overriding concern of the meeting was peace, and particularly the role of religions, religious leaders and faith-based organizations in creating a culture of peace and practices of peacemaking. As children of Abraham, we agree that humanity was created to share the gifts of love and compassion, peace and mercy, honesty and sincerity.”
At the end of the meeting, both parties agreed to continue and convene a following meeting in 2017 in Cairo, Egypt.
“I am Palestinian, in Faith I Resist”
INVITATION – The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem invites you to participate in the Pontifical Mass to be presided by Archbishop Pizzaballa on the Solemnity of Our Lady of Palestine, October 30, in the Sanctuary of Deir Rafat. The Mass is at 10:30 am and followed by the traditional procession with the Icon of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Palestine. On Saturday October 29, 2016, the day before the Feast of Our Lady of Palestine, a prayer for peace in the Holy Land and the Middle East will be held in all churches of Palestine and the world, at 5:00 pm.Read More
by Cécile Klos, Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
JERUSALEM – Recently, a group of “Scouts and Guides of France” was initially launched in Jerusalem. The first gathering took place on September 24 and was attended by 35 children and adolescents in the gardens of Maison d’Abraham
Shortly before summer, the idea of establishing this group was initiated by French parents: “A scout group gathered some French and English-speaking children in recent years and had to stop with the departure of the responsible leaders. It was thought necessary for the group to continue. There are already several locally existing Scout groups but there was a language constraint for the young people who wanted to be Scouts. There was a high demand among the French-speaking children and parents. The French parents were ready to be involved and take the initiative to revive the Scouts group.”Read More
Church of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor
Rev. Fr. Imad Twal reports from the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem:
On Monday, October 24, 2016, the Church of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor (Galilee) was robbed by unknown burglars. The intruders destroyed the tabernacle, desecrated the sacred hosts, which are very holy, as these embody the presence of Christ. The ciborium was stolen after it was emptied of the sacred hosts that were thrown on the floor. Some statues in the Church were vandalized and the contents of the donation box were also stolen.Read More
Reviewed by Roger Bergman* in America Magazine, the National Catholic Review, October 3, 2016
Andrew Bacevich is clear about what he hopes to accomplish in America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History. He will link “aims to actions to consequences” regarding the role of the U.S. military from 1980 to the present. Bacevich, a 1969 graduate of West Point who served 23 years before retiring as a colonel, and who recently retired from teaching diplomatic history at Boston University, does not shy away from expressing his own conclusions about this war in the Islamic world, now in its fourth decade. “We have not won it. We are not winning it. Simply trying harder is unlikely to produce a different outcome.”Read More
Seven students hid under beds in the same room in Kirkuk as the jihadists stormed in. Their survival was a miracle.
by Danny Gold
10.24.16 9:35 AM ET
Erbil, Iraq — Monaly Najeeb and the other young women were hiding under their beds when they heard the ISIS fighters enter their house. Machine gun fire had woken them up around 4 a.m. that morning, and they had spent hours huddling in fear, trying to keep quiet and silently praying that the militants wouldn’t enter their house as firefights continued right outside their door.Read More
by Elise Harris
Vatican City, Oct 23, 2016 / 06:24 am (CNA/EWTN News).- With the Iraqi Army currently embroiled in an effort to liberate Mosul and the Plains of Nineveh from the Islamic State, Pope Francis Sunday offered prayers for an end to violence in the country so it can move forward on the path of hope and reconciliation.
“In these dramatic hours, I am close to the people of Iraq, in particular those from the city of Mosul,” the Pope said Oct. 23.
“Our hearts are shocked by the heinous acts of violence that for too long are being committed against innocent citizens, whether they are Muslims, Christians or whether they belong to other ethnic groups and religions,” he said, and voiced his sadness that many have been killed “in cold blood,” including children.Read More
Orthodox churches of the East and the Roman Catholic Church in the West
By Paul Badde
Rome, Italy, Sep 28, 2016 / 12:34 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Hundreds of years before Martin Luther broke away from the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope in the western world, the Great Eastern Schism created a division between Rome and Constantinople.
The split of Christianity in the Orthodox churches of the East and the Roman Catholic Church in the west was formally completed in the year 1054. On December 7, 1965, Pope Paul VI in Rome and the ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras in Istanbul terminated the mutual excommunications “from memory and from the midst of the Church” and committed them “to oblivion.”
But efforts toward healing have taken place.Read More
On Thursday, October 13, nine Palestinian marathoners, who normally train in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, ran through the streets of Mountain View and Cupertino to convince Google and Apple to add hundreds of missing Palestinian villages to their maps. [See Marathoners Race Through Silicon Valley to Press Google, Apple to Put Missing Palestinian Villages on Maps]
Google, Apple, and Waze have not yet answered the letters delivered that day by the Palestinian marathoners, so please take a moment now to email your members of Congress to ask their help and share this link with friends. If you have an android phone, download Evincible.
Google and Apple HAVE replied to Rep. Eshoo and Rep. Honda, confirming that they had received the GPS data from BIMKOM: Planners for Planning Rights, the Israeli Human Rights Group who we partnered with in this project. Both companies have been asking for three language translations, but so far, there has been no commitment as to when they’ll add the missing villages. We need your help.Read More
By Aron Heller | AP October 4 at 2:23 AM
JERUSALEM — As the senior representative of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel’s government, Health Minister Yaakov Litzman is unapologetic about the insular lifestyle he advocates, despite irking mainstream Israel and endangering its long-term economic prospects.
He insists that shirking compulsory military service, rejecting secular education and raising large families on state subsidies all serve the noblest of purposes: a life devoted to the study of scripture that has preserved Jewish traditions over centuries and will ultimately bring about the coming of the Messiah.
“To sit and learn is a mitzvah,” or commandment from God, he told The Associated Press. “It is the most important thing.”Read More
October 19, 2016 by yalibnan
About 2,000 women convened at Israel’s Lebanese border earlier this month in the first leg of a cross-country march aimed at pressuring the nation’s leaders to resume peace talks with the Palestinians, Israeli daily Haaretz reported .
The event was reportedly launched by Women Wage Peace, a non-partisan organization founded two years ago, following Israel’s last war in Gaza.
Just as the Israeli political activists began their journey by foot from Rosh Hanikra to Jerusalem, another international women’s group, by mere coincidence, was heading toward Israel’s coastal waters bearing a political message of its own: end the blockade of Gaza. The Women’s Boat to Gaza, an initiative of the International Freedom Flotilla Coalition, which had set out from Barcelona, was intercepted offshore by the Israeli navy on Wednesday afternoon.
Titled “March of Hope,” the Women Wage Peace event will span two weeks, culminating on October 19 with a mass rally in Jerusalem outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence. “We expect tens of thousands at the Jerusalem rally,” said Lili Weisberger, an activist in Women Wage Peace and organizer of the march.Read More
Oct. 20, 2016 – Commentary: World attention to the Israeli settlements in the West Bank/Occupied Territories as obstacles to peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people and to any implementation of a “two state solution” was again attained by the recent meeting of the UN Security Council. All 15 members of the Security Council, including the U.S., agreed that these obstacles have been in place for too long (50 years in 2017) and must end. The present government of Israel stands alone in its denial of and continued creation of these obstacles. The security and future growth of the State of Israel and the just aspirations of the Palestinian people for a State of their own are now challenging the international community, the UN, the U.S., the EU, Israelis and Palestinians to act decisively in the coming months or risk ever increasing and unsustainable conflict and violence.Read More
Louisville, Ky., Sep 27, 2016 / 08:44 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- For the first time in centuries, an ancient Biblical scroll could be read, thanks to a computer scanning technology that can reconstruct a clear text from damaged, unreadable material.
“This work opens a new window through which we can look back through time by reading materials that were thought lost through damage and decay,” Brent Seales, a University of Kentucky professor of computer science, said Sept. 22.
“There are so many other unique and exciting materials that may yet give up their secrets — we are only beginning to discover what they may hold,” Seales added, according to the University of Kentucky.Read More
At five o’clock in the evening today – and every day – in Finland, church bells are ringing across the country, symbolizing people’s sadness and solidarity with the people of Aleppo, Syria.
The war-torn city of Aleppo has been embroiled in violence as air attacks continued this week. Scores of civilians have perished while marketplaces and medical facilities have been reduced to rubble.
Reacting to this situation, a member of the Kallio Parish in Helsinki had the idea to ring the church bells to commemorate the victims in Aleppo, explained Lari Lohikoski, director of digital communication in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. That parish asked others to join, setting a time of 5 p.m. every day through 24 October, United Nations Day.Read More
The Catholic Center for Studies and Media in Jordan, October 4, 2016 – Franciscan Minister General Fr. Michael Perry, alongside the superior of the Franciscans based in Syria and Custos of the Holy Land Fr. Francesco Patton, on Tuesday, October 4, issued a statement calling on the international community to take the necessary measures to help bring relief to the people of Aleppo.Read More
Donna Baranski-Walker, Executive Director of Rebuilding Alliance, writes:
It is Kafkaesque.
Five psychiatrists from the Gaza Community Mental Health Program were invited to attend the 63rd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry that starts this Monday in New York City. Their goal there, at UPenn Medical School in Philadelphia and at Sheppard-Pratt Hospital in Baltimore is to learn about breakthroughs in treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). They return home by November 10th.Read More
Patriarchal Residence – Atchaneh, Lebanon, October 1, 2016
At the invitation of His Holiness Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East and the Supreme Head of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church, the Holy Syriac Orthodox Synod of Antioch convened from September 27 to October 1st, 2016.
The members of the Holy Synod, discussed the matters listed on the agenda. The most important matters discussed are:
1- The situation of Christians in the Middle East and the persecution which they face as well as forced migration due to the war in Syria and Iraq. The Fathers prayed for peace in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. They urged the International Community to seriously seek immediate peaceful solutions for the conflicts, and to work hard to liberate the two abducted Archbishops of Aleppo Boulos Yaziji and Mor Gregorius Youhanna Ibrahim, who are forcefully kept away from us and from their Archdioceses. Moreover, the Fathers demanded the international organizations to help Christians remain in their homeland and live in dignity. They urged the Syriac faithful to remain in the Middle East and expressed their commitment to help their people in all possible ways to live in dignity, preserving their roots in the land of the forefathers. The Fathers affirmed the importance of the ecumenical relations among the churches and the Christian-Muslim dialogue that deepen the peaceful coexistence based on the principle of equal citizenship. Therefore, it was decided to convene a conference in which the Fathers of the Holy Synod will participate as well as selected specialists and experts in politics, economy, and social sciences who will be invited from the different Archdioceses of the Church throughout the world. The conference will study and discuss the current situation and the future of Christians in general and Syriacs in particular, in the Middle East.Read More
By Elise Harris
Erbil, Iraq, Oct 17, 2016 / 11:06 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Hours after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced a ground offensive to retake Mosul from the clutches of Islamic State, a priest working in the thick of the country’s refugee crisis said people are happy with the advances, but unsure what the future will hold.
“We are so happy because yesterday the war began between the Iraqi army and the Peshmerga with ISIS,” Father Roni Momika told CNA Oct. 17.Read More
The Israeli Ministry of Health issued regulations on the 1st of August 2016, allowing Palestinians holding family unification permits to access health services with the condition of making a retroactive “initial payment”. If the person applying for family unification holds a “permanent residency”, i.e. Jerusalem ID, his/her partner need to be holding a family unification permit for 27 consecutive months and to pay an “initial payment” of 7,695 NIS to access health services. On the other hand if the applier holds an Israeli citizenship, his/her partner need to be holding a family unification permit for 6 months and pay 1,710 Nis, which constitutes a clear discrimination against the Palestinian residents living in East Jerusalem. Those new regulations are part of an ongoing Israeli policies against Palestinians aiming at denying them their basic rights, including right to health services.Read More
The Society of St. Yves, Catholic Center for Human Rights, held a film launching event for its short movie entitled “Right to exist?!” at Yabous Cultural Centre, in Jerusalem. The launching witnessed the participation of Patriarch Emeritus, his Beatitude Michel Sabah, in addition to a number of diplomatic missions and representatives, civil society and church organizations as well as UN organizations.Read More
by Beth Greenfield
Ani Apelian was living the good life with her husband and son in the small Syrian-Armenian resort town of Kessab — operating the family’s organic olive oil soap factory, managing various rental properties, and heading a local Christian school — until it all ended abruptly on a chilly March morning in 2014. That’s when al-Qaida rebels seized the town and her family fled for their lives. After a quick stay in Dubai with Ani’s daughter, they resettled with her brother in Corona, Calif., with nothing of their own. But when Ani’s husband stumbled upon an Avon employment ad when he was searching for work, she thought, “I can do that,” and she applied to be an independent sales representative. Now, she tells Yahoo Beauty, it’s her lifeblood. She’s part of the changing face of Avon’s sales force of 400,000 — along with one entire team made up mostly of Colombian immigrants. Looking to them and others, Ani, 59, says, “It gives me hope that I can be something again one day.” Here, in her own words, as told to Yahoo Beauty, is Ani’s story:Read More
On the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur, all of Israel shuts down. A silence full of penitence and reflection.
October 12: a silence full of penance for all of Israel. A solemn day, the most important of the Jewish calendar: Yom Kippur.Read More
The tenor is one of fatigue and cynicism, which does a disservice to readers and to the cause of honest journalism.
by Barbara Erickson, September 27, 2016
One month into his stint as New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief, Peter Baker has struck a world-weary tone: In his telling, the turmoil of Palestine-Israel is nothing more than an ancient feud, and the United Nations has grown tired of hearing about it from two intransigent leaders.
The effect of this jaded stance is to leave readers with the impression that Palestinians and Israelis face off over a level playing field and they have been doing so for millennia, two notions that serve to benefit Israel above all.Read More
But unconditional U.S. support for Israel negatively affects the situation.
— Bishop William Shomali
by Tony Magliano*
(Catholic News Agency) September 29, 2016 – Recently I emailed questions to the auxiliary bishop of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Bishop William Shomali, asking him to share his first-hand insights regarding the many injustices and violent environment in the land of the Prince of Peace. He graciously sent back a recorded audio response upon which this column is based.
Bishop Shomali said one of the most pressing problems facing Palestinians is Israeli imposed restrictions on movement. For example, he said Palestinians living in Bethlehem or Ramallah need to obtain a permit to go just six miles to Jerusalem. And permits are only given during principle feasts.
He said the ongoing illegal building of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land in the Occupied Territories is an extremely serious roadblock to a peaceful solution.Read More
Tina Basem, editor of This Week in Palestine, writes:
About half of our Palestinian brothers and sisters live outside of historical Palestine – and many of them not by their own choice. The plight of refugees is gaining in poignancy and we must remember that for them, we can make a difference through much-needed aid, support, and activism!
This issue, however, focuses on the diaspora outside of refugee camps. Many of its members left to escape hardship or against their free will as well. Most have adapted to their new surroundings in ways refugees never could, established successful businesses, built careers in a variety of fields, and reached high levels of education, wealth, and prestige. We in Palestine look to them for support under increasingly difficult economic and political conditions (although some are “fed up with requests for aid,” as one of our authors was told of a successful business empire). But to be fair, many members of the Palestinian diaspora are deeply committed and, or eager to help. Much gratitude goes to these businesswomen and –men, to the volunteers and activists for their support and engagement!Read More
At the Met, a captivating show displays the visual evidence of a time and place roiled by dozens of ethnic and religious constituencies.
By Peter Schjeldahl, staff writer at The New Yorker and the magazine’s art critic
“Jerusalem, 1000-1400: Every People Under Heaven,” at the Metropolitan Museum, is a captivating show of some two hundred objects from the era of the Crusades. There are manuscripts, maps, paintings, sculptures, architectural fragments, reliquaries, ceramics, glass, fabrics, astrolabes, jewelry, weapons, and, especially, books—in nine alphabets and twelve languages. The works, from sixty lenders in more than a dozen countries, express the Jewish, Islamic, and Christian cultures of the time, the three great Abrahamic faiths sharing a city holy to them all, when they weren’t bloodily contesting it.Read More
On this day, all over the United States, a routine ceremony of colonization takes place. If we see today as a celebration of Christopher Columbus and his legacy and not of Standing Rock, then Palestine will have a long road to freedom.
At FOSNA, we see Christianity as a vehicle to liberate the oppressed, challenge modern empires the way Rome was once challenged, and construct justice for the present and the future. It is a theology in direct opposition to the church that accepted the Doctrine of Discovery—exploited by Columbus—and the Christian Zionism that is sustaining the Israeli state. We wrote this statement of solidarity with the indigenous protectors because we know that the destruction of Native American land and sacred sites goes hand in hand with the demolition of Palestinian homes and farms.Read More
“They can change facts on the ground with the building of settlements, expropriation of land, and expulsion of families from homes.”
by Justin Salhani, World Reporter at ThinkProgress focusing on human rights
Up until quite recently, colonialism was not seen as a bad thing. For at least a few hundred years, colonialism was assumed to benefit native and indigenous peoples. Predominately European colonizers viewed other people as “uncivilized,” and often rationalized colonialism with the idea that they were bestowing civilization upon savages.
It’s through this lens that Americans have celebrated Columbus Day since the 1930s. But with the realization that the Native American people may not have appreciated acts of genocide or ethnic cleansing, Columbus Day is now increasingly being shunned for Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
But the struggle of indigenous activists isn’t limited to the Americas. Much as the Native Americans view Columbus Day, the Palestinian people view the creation of the state of Israel, a day they commemorate on May 15 each year as youm al-Nakba, which means “day of catastrophe” in Arabic.
On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion declared Israel a state. “We hereby proclaim the establishment of the Jewish state in Palestine, to be called Israel,” he said at a reception at the time.Read More
“His Majesty’s Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.” (Balfour Declaration – 1917);Read More
FOSNA is proud to launch the national tour No Child Behind Bars: Living Resistance from the US to Palestine. This January, we will have the honor of introducing Ahed Tamimi and Amanda Weatherspoon to congregations and communities around the United States.
Ahed Tamimi is a 15-year-old girl from Nabi Saleh, Palestine. She loves soccer and dance but, because of the Israeli occupation, she spends most of her Fridays participating in nonviolent resistance with her family, neighbors, and international allies. By the time Ahed was 8 years old, she was protesting attacks from settlers of the nearby Halamish settlement. The Israeli military fired tear gas and detained residents of the village, and even used live fire in her village. Ahed lives under this state violence every day, but she remains positively fearless!
Amanda Weatherspoon is a Unitarian Universalist minister in California. Her ministry is centered on collective liberation. Amanda is pursuing human rights work domestically and internationally, and is organizing toward black liberation.Read More