We seek to keep you literally "updated" on movement in terms of truth and justice in the Middle East in general with a particular eye on Palestine. The links below will take you to various articles and websites that offer the perspective of leaders in the religious, NGO, and human rights communities. Additionally, Al-Bushra, ever vigilant, provides links to regular reporting as well as opinion pieces by journalists. The dates given here indicate when the link was posted; the most recent posting is at the top. Check the article itself for the date the information was released by the source.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Kirkuk Archbishop Leads Peace Initiative

Muslims, Tribal Leaders Join Prelate in Signing Document

KIRKUK, Iraq, APRIL 27, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Kirkuk has spearheaded an interreligious initiative to promote peace.

With some 50 representatives of Sunni Islam, Arab tribal leaders and local government officials, he signed a document "Let us build bridges of peace," released Thursday, as reported by Aid to the Church in Need.

The signatories pledge to live together in peace in Kirkuk, which is an object of contention between Kurds and the central government in Baghdad. In a meeting with Aid to the Church in Need, Archbishop Sako explained his most recent action to promote ongoing dialogue by saying, “We Christians have a mission of peace and reconciliation that extends to all people, not just Christians.”

ACN explained that in the petroleum-rich city of Kirkuk, Kurds make up a slight majority of the population. A referendum on whether to transfer this city to the Autonomous Kurdistan region or leave it under the central government in Baghdad was originally slated for 2007, but has been continually postponed since then.

The signatories of the dialogue paper condemn all forms of violence: “Violence will not change or improve the situation; rather, it will drown our city in a sea of injustice, social disadvantages and underdevelopment.”

The archbishop estimates the numbers of Chaldeans to be at around 10,000-12,000, or 4% of Kirkuk’s population. Because they are such a small minority, and with little political weight, the archbishop is considered a mediator and a neutral figure in the debate.

ZE12042707 - 2012-04-27
Permalink: http://www.zenit.org/article-34686?l=english

Friday, April 27, 2012

Lebanon Eager to Welcome Benedict XVI

Organizer Speaks of Preparations for September Visit

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 25, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The people of Lebanon have great affection for Rome and the papacy, and are thus excited to welcome Benedict XVI to their homeland in September, says the coordinator of the papal visit.

Father Marwan Tabet, the former secretary-general for Catholic Schools in Lebanon, is organizing the trip in conjunction with Vatican officials. Father Tabet spoke with Vatican Radio when he was in Rome this week working on the preparations.

The Sept. 14-16 papal journey will be an official visit to Lebanon, and include meetings with Lebanese officials, as well as the Pope's traditional encounters with the world of culture, and interreligious representatives.

The culmination of the trip will come at Mass the last day, when the Holy Father will sign the postsynodal apostolic exhortation, fruit of the 2010 synod on the Middle East.
“The Lebanese population, Christian and Muslim, had heard that the Pope will be coming to Lebanon. They were expecting something to happen,” Father Tabet told Vatican Radio. “They didn’t know the date, the form or the content (of the visit) so when the news broke on Easter day, there was a lot of happiness coming with the Easter message. As everyone knows, the Lebanese are very attached to Rome and to the papacy, especially to the popes. The Lebanese had experienced the euphoria of a papal visit with John Paul II and they are waiting as well for this visit of Benedict XVI.”
Father Tabet noted that the Pope's three-day, two-night trip is "a long trip for the Pope and during this time he will be meeting with officials because it’s an official visit to the country of Lebanon. He will be meeting the political officials; he will be addressing the people of culture: writers, people from the private and the public sectors; he will be meeting with the youth -- we are preparing for a big encounter for the Pope with the youth."

“Many personalities from around the Middle East and north Africa will be present to welcome the Pope to listen to what he’s going to say," the priest added.

He also spoke of the context of the Pontiff's visit: “This part of the world is passing now through a very critical, very critical moment … what’s happening in Syria, what’s happening with Israel -- on both sides, Lebanon is not happy."

Father Tabet noted the Vatican's close contact with the region: “Rome is really watching carefully the progress of what’s happening and they have a position towards that and the Pope personally is concerned with the presence of the Christians in the East. That’s why we see in his speeches always, he comes back to their presence and he’s giving directives."

ZE12042507 - 2012-04-25
Permalink: http://www.zenit.org/article-34669?l=english

Monday, April 23, 2012

60 Minutes: The last Christian village in the Holy Land

This week, veteran 60 Minutes producer Harry Radliffe threw Overtime a real plum: the story of Taybeh.

He and correspondent Bob Simon stumbled on the tiny village of Taybeh while they were in the West Bank, reporting on the Holy Land's vanishing population of Christians.

What makes Taybeh the last all-Christian village in the Holy Land? The village has no mosque and is home to three distinct Christian communities: Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox and Melkite Greek Catholics.

Taybeh's roots are deep, and for Christians, important: the biblical name of the village is Ephraim. According to the Bible, Jesus Christ came to Taybeh from Jerusalem before his crucifixion. John 11:54 states: "Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples."

The name of the village was changed from Ephraim to Taybeh around 1187, by the Islamic leader Saladin.

Today, Taybeh's population is dwindling, down to around 1500. The majority of Christians there are Greek Orthodox.

But have faith. The town's resident Roman Catholic priest, Father Raed Abu Sahlia, isn't going anywhere. As he told Bob Simon with a smile:

"I will assure you that even if all the Christians of the Holy Land will leave, and I will remain alone, I will get married, we will start another new generation."

Click to view video: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7406228n&tag=contentBody;storyMediaBox

60 Minutes: Christians of the Holy Land