In blockaded Gaza, Muslims, Christians live in harmony

thumbs_b_c_7dfaf5fa79778619ce1afb811b9013f5By Mohamed Majed

GAZA CITY, Palestine

The friendship between two Palestinians — Hatim Hiriz, a Muslim, and Kamal Tarzi, a Christian — reflects the religious and cultural coexistence that has always characterized the Gaza Strip.

Tarzi, 56, accompanies his friend, Hiriz, 47, who is blind, to and from the mosque each day and helps him perform everyday tasks.

In the Gaza Strip, where Christians and Muslims have long lived in harmony, their friendship isn’t considered unusual.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Tarzi said that the two communities had lived side by side since time immemorial.

“This is always how it has been in Gaza,” he said.

Tarzi recalled how he first met Hiriz 15 years ago, with whom he has since established a strong bond of friendship.

“Hiriz, who used to work as a pharmacist, lost his sight six years ago while preparing a prescription,” he said.

“Before going blind, he used to frequently pray at the mosque, so I decided to help him,” Tarzi added.

“Now I accompany him to the mosque each day, waiting for him outside while he prays,” he said. “When he is done, we come back together.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM AA

Advertisements

Palestinian Christians and Muslims call on faith communities to help end the occupation

Church Of The Holy SepulchreThen the Lord saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice. (Isaiah 59:15b)

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it. (Luke 19:41)

We the undersigned, a group of Palestinian-American Christians from several church traditions, call on all faith communities to:

  • Denounce the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.
  • Lift up, in your places of worship, the plight of Palestinians, Muslims and Christians alike, recognizing that Israeli policies of occupation and apartheid are leading to the virtual extinction of the indigenous Christian population in Palestine.
  • Recognize the urgency of ending Israel’s genocidal siege and attacks on the entire Palestinian hostage population of the Gaza Strip.
  • Continue to use economic pressure as well as other nonviolent means to compel Israel to end its apartheid practices and policies against the Palestinian people.

We express deep concern at the increasingly hostile direction of Israeli policies and actions, emboldened by the equally aggressive foreign policy stance of the Trump administration toward the Palestinian people. President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is the final nail in the coffin of the so-called “peace process,” which has now been unmasked as a farce, exposing the United States not as an “honest broker” but as Israel’s unquestioning advocate. There is little doubt that the Trump administration’s Jerusalem decision, although condemned by the overwhelming majority of the international community, will encourage Israel to act with even greater impunity.

FULL ARTICLE FROM MONDOWEISS

Ashrawi: “Israeli Violations Against Churches Are Attacks Aimed At All Palestinians”

Dr_Hanan_Ashrawi-e1519621632648Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Executive Committee of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) denounced the latest Israeli decision targeting churches and their property in occupied Jerusalem, and said that such violations not only target holy sites, but are attacks against all Palestinians.

She said that freezing church assets in occupied Jerusalem, and the illegal decision to impose taxes on church property, are very serious violations targeting holy sites in occupied Palestine.

“These churches and their lands have existed in the holy land centuries before the Israel occupied Palestine, including Jerusalem – The Palestinian identity and heritage include the oldest and contiguous Christian presence in the holy land,” Dr. Ashrawi added, “Israel is now violating international laws, and basic religious rights, in addition to violating the status quo of the holy sites.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM IMEMC NEWS

 

Why Pence should listen to Christians in the Middle East, not just in the Bible Belt

PALESTINIAN-RELIGION-CHRISTIANITYVice President Pence visited my home country of Jordan during his much-anticipated (and delayed) tour of the Middle East, including stops in Israel and Egypt. The trip is designed to draw attention to the plight of Christians in the region, a key concern for many evangelical supporters of President Trump.

I was born and raised in a Christian family in the Middle East, and as an adult, I continue to live out my faith by providing trauma counseling to refugees, including Muslims, Christians and those of various other beliefs. Given my own upbringing and my work with refugees, I’m deeply concerned about Christian persecution abroad. I believe Pence and the current administration have the chance to actually help the church in the Middle East.

Here are four ways Pence could use his visit to make a difference.

1. Acknowledge Palestinians’ connection to Jerusalem.

While the United States does not recognize Palestinian statehood, the Trump administration should do more to acknowledge that Palestinians — including both Christians and Muslims — have a historic connection to Jerusalem.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST 

Where Can Women Make Movies? The Middle East

merlin_131702723_934a19ad-fd2f-48cc-9933-f55e5cc7e835-superJumboHailed as a fresh, frank look at the lives of young Palestinian women, Maysaloun Hamoud’s debut film, “In Between,” follows three female roommates who share an apartment in Tel Aviv. There, they participate, to varying degrees, in the debauchery on offer in Israel’s cultural capital: dancing, drinking, smoking, taking drugs.

The movie is being talked about as a milestone. An article on CNN says, “‘In Between’ depicts alcohol consumption, drug taking, casual sex and homosexuality — topics Hamoud admits are seldom touched on in Arabic-language films.” The “split lives” of the protagonists, who have traditional Palestinian families but live away from them, “have rarely been depicted on screen,” a review in Variety says.

It’s true that Ms. Hamoud deftly portrays the world of modern, urban Palestinian women — the world to which she belongs — and explores how they are affected by constrictive, suffocating traditions. But she is far from alone on that front. Unlike Hollywood, Arab cinema is flush with female directors making films that deal with feminist issues.

In terms of contemporary Arab films, “In Between” is heavily reminiscent of “Caramel” (2007). Both films are about women from different social strata and religions: The female characters in “In Between” include a fierce criminal lawyer, a D.J. and a conservative university student; “Caramel” follows a group of women who work in or frequent a hair and waxing salon in Beirut. Both are about the restrictions the women are forced to abide by, and about love and vying for independence in a society in which marriage is regarded as the most desirable option for a woman. “Caramel” is directed by Nadine Labaki of Lebanon, who went on to make a second feature film in 2011, “Where Do We Go Now?,” a comedy about a mixed Christian-Muslim village where the women prevent the men from starting a religious war.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES

Palestinian Christians and Muslims living in the Holy Land. A Christmas Message to Vice-President Mike Pence

160714131551-17-mike-pence-0714-restricted-super-169Mr. Vice President:

As you celebrate Christmas with your family and listen to the gospel story of the birth of Jesus, I hope you will read and reflect on the following piece I wrote a few years back.

I want you to open your eyes to the situation facing Palestinian Christians and Muslims living in the Holy Land. And I want you to understand why the Arab Christian leadership in Palestine was so troubled by your blindness to their plight that they refused to meet with you.

Christmas: Then and Now

Two thousand years ago, Palestine was subject to a harsh occupation, much as it is today. In some ways, though, the conditions back then allowed the residents of occupied Palestine greater mobility than the current inhabitants of that land.

As we are told in the bible story, Joseph had to take his expectant wife from Nazareth, where they were living, to Bethlehem, their ancestral village, in order to fulfill a requirement imposed by the authorities to register as part of a nationwide census. Today, of course, all of that would be impossible.

In the first place no Palestinian originally from Bethlehem could ever have moved to Nazareth. The occupation and closure of the West Bank makes that sort of movement impossible. Furthermore, Israeli law prohibits an Arab from Nazareth from marrying a Bethlehemite and bringing their spouse across the Green Line to live with them in Israel.

Additionally, while thousands of Palestinians in Bethlehem, both Muslim and Christian, can see Jerusalem from their homes, they can not go to the Holy City to pray. And Arab Christians from Jerusalem, likewise, can not easily go the Christmas services in Bethlehem to pray alongside their co-religionists at the seasonal event.

FULL ARTICLE FROM GLOBAL RESEARCH (CANADA)

Christian and Muslim leaders boycott Mike Pence’s Holy Land visit

image

US vice-president Mike Pence’s mission to the Holy Land to defend its shrinking Christian communities has been torpedoed by the refusal of Christian and Muslim prelates and Palestinian leaders to meet him.

The boycott was ignited by outrage over US president Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on December 6th. As this day is celebrated by Christians as the name day of St Nicholas, Mr Trump’s choice of date for his announcement was doubly insulting.

Christian and Muslim Arabs regard East Jerusalem as the occupied capital of a future Palestinian state, a position formally adopted by all 57 Muslim states at last Thursday’s summit in Istanbul. The US alone has recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Instead of beginning his tour on Sunday in Jerusalem and Bethlehem as planned, Mr Pence is set to arrive in Cairo next Wednesday for a brief meeting with president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi before flying to Jerusalem to meet Israeli president Reuven Rivlin and prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and to address Israel’s parliament. An evangelical Christian who urged Mr Trump to make his Jerusalem declaration, Mr Pence will be warmly welcomed by Israelis.

His stay in Cairo was curtailed when he was rebuffed by top Christian and Muslim clerics. Coptic pope Tawadros cancelled an audience with Mr Pence, arguing Mr Trump “did not take into account the feelings of millions of Arab people”. The pope heads the region’s largest Christian community, constituting 10 per cent of Egypt’s 93 million people.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE IRISH TIMES