Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dar al-Kalima College was dedicated Tuesday

Dar al-Kalima College campus was dedicated Nov. 30, 2010 in Bethlehem

The Mount Murair campus of the Dar al-Kalima College in Bethlehem, Palestine, was dedicated Tuesday, Nov. 30. Video is at: http://www.diyar.ps/media/dak.wmv

“Dar al-Kalima College is a direct answer to the current shortage of higher education institutions in Palestine and a beacon of hope for future generations,” said Rev. Mitri Raheb, pastor of Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem and president of the Diyar Consortium. More than half of the Palestinian population is under the age of 19, with current projections predicting further growth. "With no expansion of the current educational system to absorb these growing numbers, a significant number of gifted young people in Palestine will have nowhere to further their education beyond the 12th grade and will have extremely limited opportunities in finding employment.”

The college, which opened its doors Sept. 15, offers 2-year degrees in the arts, multimedia, communication and tourism studies and in other major academic disciplines. Dar al-Kalima College offers majors and courses not offered elsewhere in Palestine, which can mean new jobs and opportunities for graduates. More than 200 full-time students will attend classes there and more than 1,000 people will participate in continuing education classes this academic year.

“Our mission is to, through education, build a culture of democracy, critical thinking and free expression,” said Dr. Nura Khoury, Dean of Dar al-Kalima College. “As the first Lutheran college in the Middle East, we hope to contribute to the strengthening of civil society in Palestine.”

Bright Stars of Bethlehem, based in the United States, has played a large part in fundraising for the college. The group organized a five-day trip to Bethlehem for the dedication.

Bright Stars of Bethlehem asked congregations and chapels across North America to pray together in Advent for peace in Bethlehem.

For more about Dar al-Kalima College, check the Bright Stars newsletter: http://www.brightstarsbethlehem.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=0&Itemid=82

(Bright Stars of Bethlehem, NFP, a 501 (c) (3) charity in the United States, was founded in 2003 to support educational, health and wellness, cultural and arts programs in the Holy Land. Our mission is to ensure that Christianity survives and thrives in the Middle East and to bring hope and healing to people in need. For more information on its mission and ministries, visit http://www.brightstarsbethlehem.org/)

Contact: Beth Nelson Chase
Vice President Bright Stars of Bethlehem

--- --- ---

To receive regular bulletins from Ann Hafften, sign up at the blog A Texas Lutheran's Voice for Peace: http://www.voicesforpeace.blogspot.com/

Send prayers and wishes for Advent and Christmas

The Palestine-Israel Ecumenical Forum of the World Council of Churches writes to invite you to send your prayers and wishes for Advent and Christmas in Bethlehem 2010.

For some, Christmas means spending time in a warm, safe atmosphere with family and friends. In a call for prayers that Pax Christi has initiated, they remind us, however, that this happiness cannot be shared by all people around the globe. Pax Christi notes that "Christmas celebrations in Israel and Palestine occur in a very difficult and instable climate". The call goes on to describe how "hope remains a keyword in the life of the citizens of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, city of peace" and how "individuals and groups keep up the search for non-violent routes that lead to peace and justice for both peoples".

Since December 2000 Pax Christi has been sending out peace messages to friends in Bethlehem. PIEF endorses and joins this call and hopes member churches of the World Council of Churches will send out wishes and prayers for justice and peace to Bethlehem.

Messages can be e-mailed to the Arab Educational Institute at the following address: aei@p-ol.com

Read all messages at http://www.aeicenter.org/ and http://www.paxchristi.net/ [You can read the 2009 messages here; some might provide ideas for use in your own congregation or group's prayer vigils.]

With prayers for a just peace in Palestine and Israel,

Yours in Christ

Michel Nseir
Programme Executive
Public witness programme
Special focus on the Middle East
World Council of Churches


PIEF: http://www.oikoumene.org/en/programmes/public-witness-addressing-power-affirming-peace/churches-in-the-middle-east/pief/pief-home.html

--- --- ---

To receive regular bulletins from Ann Hafften, sign up at the blog A Texas Lutheran's Voice for Peace: http://www.voicesforpeace.blogspot.com/

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Notes while traveling in Palestine and Israel

Since I'm traveling, I've been posting occasionally to Facebook friends. Here's a running list of those posts, offered here because they contain some good links.

Nov. 23
Jim Wall's analysis is completely chilling. We are dupes, and it feels awful.
US Offers Bibi 20 F-35 Bombers, The Jordan Valley and a Free UN Pass
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been meeting with his seven-member inner cabinet. They are discussing the offer Hillary Clinton made as an incentive to Israel to “freeze” settlement construction for 90 days.
Nov. 24
Looking forward to another yummy Middle Eastern breakfast and really good coffee. Think I'll try a fresh persimmon as they are in season.
Nov. 24
Cool event this afternoon in Beit Hanina: http://www.diakonia.se/documents/public/IHL/IHLsessions/IHL_session_Invitation_IHL_and_Corporate_Accountability_24_Nov2010.pdf Corporate accountability for International Crimes in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Nov. 24
"Who Profits ? Exposing the Israeli Occupation Industry." Www.whoprofits.org
Nov. 24
Wow fascinating stuff at this symposium at Diakonia in East Jerusalem. Check out all the cool info at www.alhaq.org - Al Haq.
Nov. 24
Here's a good example of a successful op ed project. Good job Portland folks.
OregonLive : Boycott: Put more pressure on Israel to change
‎"That year the first snows came heavily, big flakes falling into the lake like words into memory, heavy, irreclaimable." Rhoda Janzen, Mennonite in a Little Black Dress.
Having an espresso in the Golden Walls hotel lobby bar. Used to be the Pilgrim's Palace, first hotel I stayed at in Jerusalem 1977.
Ann Hafften Is sitting in a meeting of the Jerusalem municipal council. We're here at the invitation of a member of the Meretz party; he's part of a coalition advocating on behalf of Palestinian homeowners in the Sheik Jarrah neighborhood ; their homes have been taken over by extremist settlers.
Ann Hafften Just arrived atop the Mount of Olives for Thanksgiving fellowship and dinner at the "Stone House" at Augusta Victoria. Eager to see Mark & Susanne Brown and other friends. EAPPI meetings completed.
When you're sick and someone sets a bowl of soup down on front of you, don't you just lean into that first spoonful with a tangible rush of gratitude!
Historian Rick Perlstein ("Nixonland") applied himself to one recent example: polls showing that most voters in the last congressional election believed President Obama had raised their taxes, although he'd cut them. Led by Rush Limbaugh, "conservative commentators told them Barack Obama was a tax-mad lunatic. They lied....
The mainstream media did not do their job and correct them. The White House was too polite -- Who will smack down all the lies? http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/feature/2010/11/17/democrats_mainstream_media/index.html Over the past few decades, America's "mainstream media" has been hornswoggled by one big falsehood after another
Last night
Trying to sleep through the worst part of the front end of a cold. I think I'll eat something and sleep some more. Tomorrow, got to be on my feet for church at Redeemer Lutheran in Jerusalem's Old City.
TodayGlad to have met with both EAs from the USA, Clark serving in Hebron and Donna in Jerusalem. Bless their hearts! Check for their blogs here... www.eappi-us.org
It's almost twilight in Jerusalem; there's just enough daylight for one more walk down the block.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Israeli settlements remain an obstacle - LA Times

Last week, a pretty good editorial about settlements in the Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-settlements-20101111,0,727949.story

Nov. 11, 2010
Settlement fatigue
Four decades is enough. If Israel wants peace, it must stop building in the occupied territories.

"This tiresome controversy has been raging ever since Israel captured the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (along with the Golan Heights and the Sinai peninsula) in the 1967 Middle East War. The first settlement was built in the Golan a month later. That's four decades ago. Four decades during which the international community has been demanding that Israel step back to the pre-1967 lines, four decades during which Palestinians have called for an end to Israeli efforts to redraw the political map. It's been 35 years since the first Los Angeles Times editorial on the subject called the settlements an `obstacle to peace.'

"At the time that editorial was written in 1975, there were fewer than 5,000 settlers in the West Bank. Today there are nearly 300,000. That doesn't count those living in the Golan Heights or the 190,000 Israelis who have moved into traditionally Arab East Jerusalem."


[I've just pulled the concluding paragraphs since they provide such a good summary.]

"If Israel were serious about negotiating a peace deal, wouldn't it stop building? The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that a segment of the Israeli political establishment simply refuses to accept the new reality — and that segment, mostly made up of right-wing and religious political parties, is crucial to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's delicate coalition government. Truthfully, the settler movement's political power extends beyond the right wing; that's why settlements have grown steadily regardless of what government was in power, including those of Labor Party Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak.

"This page continues to believe, as it did in 1975, that settlements are an obstacle to peace. There's plenty of blame to go around, to be sure, for the absence of a final deal, but on this issue, the Israelis are squarely in the wrong. As long as they continue building in the occupied territories, the world will continue to question the depth of their commitment to peace."

--- --- ---

To receive regular bulletins from Ann Hafften, sign up at the blog A Texas Lutheran's Voice for Peace: http://www.voicesforpeace.blogspot.com/

Friday, November 12, 2010

Naim Ateek at Guilford College: the view from a Christian Palestinian

The Rev. Naim Ateek made a presentation at Guilford College, Greensboro, N.C., and the school's newspaper wrote up a very fine report.

Use this link to the The Guilfordian article: http://www.guilfordian.com/news/dr-naim-ateek-sharing-the-view-from-a-christian-palestine-1.1772231

Here is the story:

Dr. Naim Ateek: sharing the view from a Christian Palestine
By Victor Lopez, staff writer

On Nov. 3, the Reverend Dr. Naim Stifan Ateek, a Palestinian Christian, visited Guilford for a luncheon speech in the atrium of the cafeteria.

Ateek, founder and head of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem, met and spoke to members of the Guilford community.

Ateek discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - the effect of Israeli's occupation on Palestine - and also the challenge of inter-faith discussions within the province.

"I know Naim personally from our annual summer work/study trips to the Middle East and have met him many times," said Director of the Friends Center and Campus Ministry Coordinator Max Carter. "I support the theological work he is doing on the conflict and appreciate the work of Sabeel in asking the tough questions that need to be asked in applying Christian principles to the conflict."

Ateek's work centers on finding common ground between Christian and Jewish believers in a largely Jewish province.

"During vigorous inter-faith discussions between the 1960s and the 1980s, the Palestinians remained invisible," said Ateek in Cornerstone, Sabeel's quarterly publication. "They were hardly mentioned in the dialogues. The agenda was pregnant with Jewish-Christian concerns."

Ateek pointed to the Third Arab-Israeli War which was fought in June of 1967 between Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria.

According to Ateek, the 1967 war opened many people's eyes to the existence of Palestinians as refugees who were removed by despots.

Ateek expressed support for a two-state solution, the rejection of violence, and held both Palestinians and Israeli Jews accountable in a commitment towards peace.

Carter was pleased by the turnout for the discussion and the mixture of off-campus, faculty, students, and members of the Jewish community who attended.

"It was important especially, I believe, for members of the Jewish community to hear a Palestinian articulate a Christian position on the conflict," said Carter.

Some, like junior and vice president of Hillel, Benjamin Macdonald (who spent last semester studying in Israel), was not as receptive as Carter regarding Ateek's message.

"Ateek shied away from talking about Palestinian accountability in the conflict," said Macdonald.

Macdonald said that he thought Ateek oversimplified the realities of the Israeli-Palestinian divide.

"Ateek suggested once Palestine is recognized as a sovereign land, there will be no problem," said Macdonald. "He did not address Israeli fear. It's more complicated than that, there were a lot of things he left unsaid."

Michelle Grisaffi, a junior and peace and conflict studies major, said attending the luncheon helped leaven her education about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"There was a great deal of discussion about the importance of ending the occupation and creating a space of understanding and love in which Palestinians and Israelis can come together," said Grisaffi.

Grisaffi said she was exhilarated after the discussion and felt called to action.

"Being in a room filled with intelligent, knowledgeable people who care passionately about the Israel and Palestine issue was moving," said Grisaffi.

"It was the kind of experience that makes you want to jump out of your chair and rush out and do something important."

Macdonald cautiously agreed with Grisaffi: he, too, was glad for Ateek's visit.

"Ateek's visit was good," said Macdonald. "I wish there could have been more of a discussion. There's a line between having a debate and hearing him speak. The conversation didn't develop that much and it makes me want to bring in more perspectives."

-- --

For more about Sabeel, see the US friends' website: www.fosna.org

--- --- ---

To receive regular bulletins from Ann Hafften, sign up at the blog A Texas Lutheran's Voice for Peace: http://www.voicesforpeace.blogspot.com/

Monday, November 8, 2010

2011 Sabeel International Conference set for Bethlehem

From Friends of Sabeel--North America, this announcement regarding the 2011 International Conference.

Sabeel's eighth International Conference will be held in Bethlehem Feb. 22-28, 2011, under the theme: Challenging Empire: God, Faithfulness and Resistance

You can download a conference flyer here: http://fosna.org/files/fosna/2011_Conference_Poster_Update.pdf
Register before Dec 1 for a $200 discount. Register before Jan 1 for a $100 discount.

The conference begins in the evening on Feb. 23 and runs through dinner on February 28, 2011, at the Bethlehem Hotel.

Conference cost: $1,050 ($950 double room; includes the night of the Feb. 23).

Confirmed Keynote Speakers:

- John Dear S.J. is a Jesuit priest, pastor, peacemaker, organizer, lecturer, and retreat leader and the author/editor of 25 books including Living Peace.

- Richard Horsley is the Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and the Study of Religion at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and author of Jesus and Empire: The Kingdom of God and the New World Order.

- Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town since the end of 2007.

- Ched Myers is an author, organizer and advocate. He has worked with peace and justice organizations and movements, including the American Friends Service Committee, the Pacific Concerns Resource Center and the Pacific Life Community. With Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries he focuses on building capacity for biblical literacy, church renewal and faith-based witness for justice.

For more information please email: conf2011@sabeel.org or call 972-2-532-7136 (in Jerusalem)

The cost includes a non-refundable registration fee of $300, all accommodations and meals for 6 days, all transportation and honoraria during the visit. It does NOT include airfare, transportation to and from the airport, personal expenses, souvenirs, or travel insurance.

Registration deadline: January 25, 2011. Find the form at this link: http://www.fosna.org/files/fosna/2011Conf_RegistrationForm.pdf

--- --- ---

To receive regular bulletins from Ann Hafften, sign up at the blog A Texas Lutheran's Voice for Peace: http://www.voicesforpeace.blogspot.com/

Friday, November 5, 2010

Jerusalem Women Speak 2010

I'm hopelessly late to post information about the Jerusalem Women Speak tour. There's still time to catch the excellent panel in a couple locations.

Thursday, November 4th
Tahlequah, Oklahoma
“One Land, Two Peoples, Three Faiths”

10:00 a.m. – Jerusalem Women Speak, Webb Auditorium, Northeastern State University, Tahlequah, Oklahoma

12:00 p.m. – Lunch at United Methodist Women’s Fall Festival, FUMC 300 West Deleware, Tahlequah, Oklahoma

1:30 p.m. – Cherokee Nation Historical Museum
Tour with AAUW members.

3:30 p.m. – Coffee with NSU Women Faculty and Students, NSU Campus – Seminary Hall

6:30p.m. – Dinner with the American Association of University Women and Community

Saturday November 6, 2010
Washington, D.C.
The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation – 12th International Conference
3900 Harewood Rd. NE Washington, D.C. – The Pope John Paul II Cultural Center

1:45 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Workshop
Sunday November 7, 2010

6:00 p.m. Busboys and Poets at Shirlington Village
Arlington, VA

With the media's constant negative and skewed message, it is nearly impossible to have any realistic assessment of the Middle East ... especially one of hope. If the Jerusalem Women Speak Tour continues to bring Americans the real facts on the ground, grassroots activists will respond—that will make a difference in building a better future for all the people of the region.

This year, the JWS Tour will make presentations in Washington, DC, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. They will speak at the prestigious Fulbright Center, the influential Clinton Library in Little Rock, and at community forums, college campuses, and churches in heartland America.

They will carry the vision of the many JWS speakers before them: that Americans can and must end the tragic suffering of women and children; that the occupation, cruelty and oppression must end; and that a fair and just solution must and can be forged.

To achieve this vision there is much work to be done. The people of Gaza are still prisoners in their own land which is yet to be rebuilt from the devastation of war. Their borders are closed to persons and material aid. Repeated non-violent demonstrations through the years have yet to stop the illegal blockade on Gaza, despite solidarity actions around the globe, and leaders with visions of peace are being locked up.

In East Jerusalem we hear daily of Palestinian homes being taken over, leaving Palestinian home owners devastated and homeless—out on the street—with no redress and no recourse.

Under military occupation nothing is sacred, secure, or safe from seizure—not in the Holy City of Jerusalem, not in Gaza, and not in the West Bank, where the Israeli settlers continue to destroy olive trees, beat farmers, and set fire to a mosque.

The JWS women bring these facts to American audiences and make them real. They also bring a message of hope, inspiration and motivation, as they demonstrate the ability of Christians, Muslims, and Jews to work together toward a just solution for a land on which all three lived together for centuries in peace.

--- ---

To receive regular bulletins from Ann Hafften, sign up at the blog A Texas Lutheran's Voice for Peace: http://www.voicesforpeace.blogspot.com/