11 July 2014
A Palestinian boy carries his belongings as he walks past the rubble of his family’s house which police said was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on 9 July. The Israeli army intensified its offensive on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, striking Hamas sites and killing dozens of people in a military operation it says is aimed at quelling rocket fire against Israel. (photo: CNS/Mohammed Salem, Reuters)
On 8 July 2014, the Justice and Peace Commission of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land issued a statement entitled, “Call for a Courageous Change.” The document is in response to the increasing violence that has followed upon the murder of three Israeli teenagers and the revenge murder of a Palestinian teenager. The response of the Israeli government and the Palestinian organization Hamas has been to escalate the violence and revenge. Each side with some justification sees itself as the aggrieved partner seeking justice, which is often little more than blood vengeance. Each side — again with some justification — sees the other as the aggressor and occupier. As has so often been the case in the past, the conflict conceives itself as a battle of the righteous against the unrighteous and then feeds upon itself getting larger and more violent.
With clarity and courage, the commission analyzes what it sees to be the main forces driving the crisis. The commission also is very clear as to where it sees responsibility on both sides. The statement clearly mentions “the irresponsible language of collective punishment and revenge that breeds violence” and lays responsibility on “many in position of power and political leadership [who] remain entrenched, not only unwilling to enter into any real and meaningful process of dialogue, but also pouring oil on the fire with words and acts that nurture the conflict.”
Following in the path of Pope Francis, the commission in its statement attempts to “speak truth to power.” It recognizes that no side in this conflict is pure victim and no side is pure victimizer. The roles go back and forth. The statement’s critique of that common human trait to see where I am right and my opponent is wrong, while overlooking the instances where I am wrong and my opponent is right, traces its roots to the saying of Jesus, “Why do you observe the splinter in your brother’s eye and never notice the plank in your own” (Matt 7:3). The commission’s “Call for a Courageous Change” also throws strong light on one of the major problems in the conflict — namely, the mutual demonization of the other.
The statement makes a very important point that is often selectively overlooked in the media: “We need to recognize that resistance to occupation cannot be equated with terrorism. Resistance to occupation is a legitimate right, terrorism is part of the problem.” Throughout the entire document, however, there is the constant call for non-violent solutions and the commission condemns violence regardless of the side from which it originates.
In a region where polarization has become a way of life, “Call for a Courageous Change” is a light shining in the darkness. However, in a region where both sides have become “comfortable” with polarization, one wonders how much impact the document will have.
Read the statement here.
11 July 2014
Tags: Middle East Holy Land Israeli-Palestinian conflict Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land
A student attends a computer class at the Near East Council of Churches vocational center in Gaza City. To learn more about how Christian institutions help to sustain a beleaguered population, read Behind the Blockade, from the March 2012 issue of ONE. (photo: Eman Mohammed)
11 July 2014
Tags: Refugees Gaza Strip/West Bank Education Health Care Women (rights/issues)
A Palestinian man examines the damage to his destroyed house following an Israeli airstrike north of Gaza City July 11. A Catholic priest in Gaza said Israeli missile attacks are wide-ranging and that there is no safe zone. (photo: CNS/Mohammed Saber, EPA)
Neuhaus: Irresponsible Israeli-Palestinian rhetoric begets violence (Vatican Radio) The Latin patriarchal vicar for Hebrew-speaking Catholics in the Holy Land, the Rev. David Neuhaus, S.J., has joined his colleagues of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land in calling for more moderate Israeli and Palestinian voices to ease tensions which have spiraled into a seemingly unending cycle of tit-for tat violence…
Rumor and leaks fill void as Israel silences press over killings (New York Times) Israeli intelligence officials used gag orders in recent weeks to stifle reporting on the initial investigations into both the abduction and the killing of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank, and the apparent revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager in East Jerusalem. These restrictions on media coverage of events in the Palestinian territories come more than five years after Israel blocked journalists from reporting on the bombardment of Gaza known in Israel as Operation Cast Lead. The current war in that territory is taking place in full view of foreign correspondents there, as the Haaretz columnist Anshel Pfeffer pointed out…
Greece holding migrants in detention, conditions ‘appalling’ (Al Jazeera) When a visitor identifying himself as an employer came knocking, Azher Abbas opened the door of the flat he shared with two other undocumented Pakistani migrants. To his surprise, police officers rushed into his home. Mr. Abbas spent 15 months at one of Greece’s largest immigrant detention centers, around an hour drive south of Athens. An estimated 6,000 are held in such camps, and thousands more at police stations. “We were never treated as people,” said Abbas. One day, he and other inmates complained about the chickpea stew. “A bunch of policemen came and spat in the food and held batons over us and said ‘eat it now…’ ”
Displaced swell Syria coastal population (Daily Star Lebanon) The population of Syria’s coastal provinces, relatively untouched by the country’s war, has risen dramatically, sheltering one million displaced people, the International Committee of the Red Cross said Friday. “Over a million people have arrived in Latakia and Tartus since the beginning of the conflict, swelling the local population by 50 percent,” the I.C.R.C. said in a statement…
Economic cooperation between Egypt and Ethiopia on the rise (Al Monitor) Cairo is working on resuming the Ethiopian-Egyptian activities that were suspended on all levels. This comes in tandem with the preparations for the expected visit of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi to Ethiopia, and as part of the restoration of dialogue aiming to settle the dispute between the countries over the Renaissance Dam under construction on the Blue Nile. The dialogue was re-opened following the meeting that was held between the Ethiopian prime minister and President Sisi on the sidelines of the last African Summit held in Equatorial Guinea…
10 July 2014
Tags: Egypt Ethiopia Israeli-Palestinian conflict Migrants Greece
A Christian woman who fled from the violence in Mosul, Iraq, holds her daughter as her baby sleeps on 27 June at a shelter in Erbil, Iraq. (photo: CNS/Ahmed Jadallah, Reuters)
I can think of only two words to describe it: total chaos.
I’m talking about the tidal wave of violence that’s sweeping across Iraq, as the extremist group called ISIS battles for control of the country.
Thousands of Christian and Muslim families remain trapped
in the deadly crossfire.
Here at Catholic Near East Welfare Association, this has us completely alarmed. It’s why I hope you’ll click here to help them.
Only days ago, two sisters and three young Iraqi Christians disappeared, and it’s feared they’ve been kidnapped by militants. The extremists also shelled the city of Qaraqosh, where CNEWA supports an orphanage. And in ISIS-held areas, Christians unable to flee are now forbidden to display crosses and other religious symbols.
As for the thousands of families who’ve escaped, they have no idea if their homes still exist. Many are elderly. The majority are women and children. All live in fear of what tomorrow may bring.
As the patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church has said, “We are losing our community.” He fears Christianity in Iraq will soon come “to an end.”
Pope Francis has urged us to pray for these victims of violence.
But they also need something else: your support.
At CNEWA, we’re committed to helping scores of nuns, priests and lay workers care for these displaced innocents — Christian and non-Christian alike. But I’m afraid their overwhelming situation is growing worse.
A simple donation, whatever you can give, will allow CNEWA
to help these terrified families.
Won’t you join us? With their world turned upside down, these families have never needed you more. So please help them. All you have to do is click here today.
Thank you and God bless you.
Donate HERE to support Iraq’s Christians and their neighbors
Donate HERE to support CNEWA’s work worldwide
10 July 2014
Tags: Iraq Refugees Iraqi Christians Iraqi Refugees Relief
A child holds a bowl of soup inside the Khazer camp on the outskirts of Irbil, Iraq, on 29 June. Thousands of Iraqi Christian and Muslim families remain trapped in the deadly crossfire. A simple donation, whatever you can give, will allow CNEWA to help scores of nuns, priests and lay workers care for these displaced innocents — Christian and non-Christian alike. Click the following links to make a generous donation to Iraq’s Christians and their neighbors, or to support CNEWA’s work worldwide. (photo: CNS/Stringer, Reuters)
10 July 2014
Tags: Iraq Iraqi Christians War Iraqi Refugees Relief
Smoke rises after an an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on 8 July. The Israeli army intensified its offensive on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, striking Hamas sites and killing scores of people in a military operation it says is aimed at quelling rocket fire against Israel. (photo: CNS/Mohammed Saber, EPA)
Gaza endures third straight day of Israeli airstrikes (Washington Post) Israel’s major military operation against Hamas and other militant groups in the Gaza Strip entered its third day Thursday, with a surge in deaths in the territory, including nine Palestinians killed while watching a World Cup game at a beachfront cafe. The death toll in Gaza jumped overnight, doubling to 80 dead and more than 500 injured, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The latest fatality was 5-year-old Abdullah Abu Gazal, who was killed in a midmorning Israeli airstrike in Beit Lahia…
Water shortage crisis in northern Iraq towns (AINA) The water purification plants in Mosul supply water to the city and surrounding areas. After taking control of Mosul on 10 June, ISIS severely limited the water supply from Al Rashidiya and Al Slamiya water projects, which provide much of the Nineveh Plain with potable water. According to a report by the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization, ISIS is allowing only about 90 minutes of pumping per day. The Assyrian towns of Baghdede, Karemlis, Bartella, Tel Kepe, Batnaya and Bashiqah — home to nearly 200,000 Assyrians — face severe water shortages…
Middle East’s stable monarchy comes face to face with extremist threat (Al Jazeera) Several times since the Al Qaeda breakaway group staged its astonishing takeover of Sunni-majority Iraq last month, supporters of the Islamic State have marched through the streets in Jordan’s southeastern city of Ma’an raising black flags and declaring their restive city “Jordan’s Fallujah” — a reference to the extremist stronghold in Iraq, the first city that fell to the insurgents back in January…
Ukraine warns rebels it plans to retake territory (Christian Science Monitor) Ukrainian government forces on Wednesday warned separatists in the eastern town of Donetsk that a plan was now in place to take back the territory they occupy, but defiant rebels reported a steady flow of new recruits who were ready to fight…
Holy Synod to elect new Ukrainian Orthodox Church leader in August (Pravmir) The Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church made the decision to elect its new leader on 13 August, the church announced on its website…
9 July 2014
Tags: Iraq Middle East Jordan Israeli-Palestinian conflict Ukrainian Orthodox Church
A Iraqi man looks into the nursery in Al Hayat, a 27-bed mother and child facility in Baghdad operated by the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena. To learn more about ways CNEWA has assisted Iraqi institutions like this hospital, read After the Storm, from the May-June 2003 issue of our magazine. To support this institution, click the image! (photo: Sherrlyn Borkgren)
9 July 2014
Tags: Iraq Children Sisters Health Care Nursing
A Palestinian woman reacts following what police said was an Israeli airstrike on a house in Gaza City on 9 July. The Israeli army intensified its offensive on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, striking Hamas sites and killing dozens of people in a military operation it says is aimed at quelling rocket fire against Israel. (photo: CNS/Majdi Fathi, Reuters)
Holy Land bishops criticize ‘collective punishment’ of Palestinians (CNS) Catholic leaders in the Holy Land called for an end to the cycle of violence and criticized Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and its collective punishment of Palestinians. “Using the death of the three Israelis to exact collective punishment on the Palestinian people as a whole and on its legitimate desire to be free is a tragic exploitation of tragedy and promotes more violence and hatred,” said an 8 July statement from the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land…
Gaza hospitals struggle to treat wounded (Al Jazeera) As Israel continues to pound Gaza with air strikes — carrying out 50 bombings overnight and more throughout the day on Tuesday — Dr. Ayman al Sahbani expresses concern about the capacity of the territory’s hospitals to attend to the many injured. Gaza also suffers from a shortage of medicine and medical supplies, Gaza’s Health Ministry spokesman, Ashraf al Qedra, told Al Jazeera. Gaza is completely missing about 30 percent of essential drugs, while 15 percent of the remainder is expected to be exhausted within days of an Israeli assault, he said…
Report: Israeli forces stole $3 million during West Bank raids (Euro-Mid Observer) During the course of Israel’s three-week campaign of mass arrests in the West Bank, ostensibly to search for the killers of three settlers, the Israeli military and police conducted an average of 18 raids per day into Palestinian homes, charities and businesses, stealing cash and property worth an estimated $3 million, documents a new report from the Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights…
Head of Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate dies at 78 (ABC News) The head of Ukraine’s Orthodox Church has died at 78 after leading it for more than two decades during the tumultuous post-Soviet period. Metropolitan Volodymyr Sabodan, who had been credited with stabilizing the church, died Saturday “after a long illness,” the church announced online Saturday. In his more than 20 years as head of the country’s largest church, Metropolitan Volodymyr weathered the breakaway of two groups that declared themselves independent of the Moscow Patriarchate. Observers say he succeeded in preventing even more splits…
Syria’s war widows fight for survival (Al Jazeera) According to United Nations figures, more than 145,000 Syrian refugee women have become the sole breadwinners for their families, struggling to provide food and shelter for their children and often facing harassment, humiliation and isolation. A report released Tuesday by UNHCR says that one in four Syrian households living in four major countries of refuge — Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt — are headed by lone women…
Inside an Iraqi Christian ghost town (Al Jazeera) Christians are only 2 percent of Iraq’s mostly Muslim population. And while they have little to do with the ongoing fighting, as I witnessed in the Christian village of Qaraqosh in Northern Iraq this week, they’re suffering the consequences…
8 July 2014
Tags: Syria Iraq Refugees Israeli-Palestinian conflict Ukrainian Orthodox Church
In this photo from January, Latin Patriarch Faoud Twal of Jerusalem leads an annual pilgrimage at the baptism site on the Jordan River. (photo: CNS/Muhammad Hamed, Reuters)
“We need your solidarity, your advocacy and yes, your material help,” said Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem during his visit today with CNEWA.
“But we need you to be courageous, courageous to tell the truth.”
The patriarch is in the United States on a three-week journey that will include the priestly ordination of an Arab American man, who will serve the patriarchate as a pastor.
“For us, things have gotten worse since the pastoral visit of the Holy Father to the Holy Land in late May,” the patriarch said. “His gestures, his simplicity, his words moved our people,” he continued, “but the day after the pope prayed for peace with the patriarch and the presidents of Israel and Palestine, the Israelis announced the building of 3,000 more apartments for settlers.
“And now,” he said quietly, shaking his head, “the terrible deaths of those three young Israelis, the death of the two Palestinian men the Israelis say are responsible, the death of that boy in East Jerusalem, and now Gaza…” his voice trailed off as he thought about the cycle of tit-for-tat violence that has haunted Israelis and Palestinians for decades.
When the Holy Father visited the Holy Land, “he could not avoid the politics in our region. He had to meet with the refugees, Palestinian, Iraqi and Syrian. He had to be clear that the drama of Syria cannot go on.
“Outsiders cannot decide Syria’s future,” the patriarch added. “Who appointed outsiders to police the Middle East? And why start with Syria?” There are other Middle Eastern regimes, he said, where extremists are harbored and Christians and other minorities, discriminated against.
The patriarch expressed his gratitude for the support of CNEWA and other organizations such as Caritas and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, solidarity he said that gives good witness to the followers of Jesus in the land of his birth.
“Our people, especially the refugees I meet, are conscious of their dignity,” the patriarch said softly. “They say, ‘help us find work, abuna [father], all we want is to keep our dignity, to keep our pride.’ ”
The patriarch ended his interview reminding readers: “Don’t be satisfied with what you read in the newspapers.” Dig deeper, he urged, there you’ll find the truth.
Click here to learn how you can help Middle East Christians reclaim that dignity cited by the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem.
8 July 2014
Tags: Middle East Holy Land Israeli-Palestinian conflict Holy Land Christians
A shepherd walks his flock out to graze in Deir Mimas village, in Lebanon. To read more about life in this region, read Rebuilding Southern Lebanon, from the November 2005 issue of ONE. (photo: Armineh Johannes)
Tags: Lebanon Village life Farming/Agriculture