Friday, April 20, 2012

Watch SIXTY MINUTES, and a note about Sabeel in D.C.

Watch `60 Minutes' this Sunday, April 22
The story about the shrinking population of the Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land will be broadcast on “60 Minutes” this Sunday, 22 April 2012, at 7:00 P.M. (EDT).

Lutheran Pastor Mitri Raheb was interviewed as part of production for this news story.(Of course there's no way to know how much, if any, of that interview might be used)

Bob Simon reports on the slow exodus from the Holy Land of Palestinian Christians, who say life in the middle of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become too difficult. Harry Radliffe is the producer.
For those of you who do not have access to CBS News in your area, you can watch the story on their website at

The story will be posted on Sunday evening after it airs on TV. There will also be an added feature about Taybeh on CBS’s online program called “60 Minutes Overtime” at;cnav

For more about Bethlehem
see this from the Diyar Consortium.


Sabeel Event Tomorrow in Washington, D.C. ....  Saturday, April 21 (9 am - 4:30 pm) - Sabeel-DC Workshop: How Can Our Churches Promote Peace in the Holy Land?  Meet clergy/lay leaders from other churches and learn How to Make Justice and Peace in the Holy Land Part of Your Church's Faith Journey.  Kresge Center (Refectory), Wesley Theological Seminary, 4500 Mass. Ave. NW in DC.   Registration deadline April 16!  Bring  $15.  More info, flyer and directions at or 703-751-5646.


To receive regular bulletins from Ann Hafften, sign up at my blog - A Texas Lutheran's Voice for Peace:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Easter note from an Accompanier, and Israelis

This post includes a message from an EAPPI accompanier and a peek at Israeli views via the country's top reality show.

Ecumenical Accompanier Mary Morris gives us a look at Israeli resources for peace in her blog post:
Happy Easter from Bethlehem. Mary serves with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).

Mary writes:

"Alleluia, Christ is risen.
Christ is risen indeed, Alleluia."

These words echoed throughout Jerusalem this Sunday, and they will echo again next Sunday as Orthodox Easter is celebrated. Spring has arrived after a very cold winter. Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and the gloom of winter is fading away. The air is warm and the sun almost too hot as we make our way through throngs of pilgrims from all corners of the globe to worship in this, the Holy Land. It was difficult to celebrate the resurrection in a Good Friday world.

While suffering is happening all around, there is good news in the Holy Land. I have had the pleasure in recent months of meeting with strong, humanitarian leaders of NGOs in Israel. The common thread is the desire for Israel to end the occupation peacefully. Most are Jewish Israelis. One is a Christian Israeli. They all believe that continuing the occupation is bringing moral decay to Israel and could lead to its destruction. They all love their country but deplore the violence. They are speaking out.

Hanna Barag leads a group called Machsom Watch. The members are Israeli women, most over 50 years old, who come to the checkpoints to learn and document what they are seeing and hearing from the men who pass through. They have tremendous respect for the Palestinians and their strong faith. The women make our job easier by their presence.

Avihal Stollar from Breaking the Silence is a former Israeli soldier. His group was formed by soldiers to tell the truth about the military and the occupation. These young men are despised by current enlisted Israels (although one veteran of 15 years told us that they tell the truth), but they continue to spread the word.

For Mary's complete message, go
Happy Easter from Bethlehem. For lots more from Mary, see her blog: Mary Morris in Palestine

-- --

Israelis discuss the occupation poolside on Big Brother

If you have not yet seen it, take six minutes to view a bit of the Israeli reality show The Big Brother. The crew talks frankly in this segment,
"Talking about the Occupation," which aired in prime time. The Big Brother is Israel's highest-rated reality show.

I have spent quite a lot of time in Israel, some of it watching TV, and I would say that the views expressed here are rarely heard in public, in the entertainment sphere, especially in prime time. I wish I could read the reviews that followed the airing of this episode. Fascinating. Ann Hafften

--- --- ---

To receive regular bulletins from Ann Hafften, sign up at my blog - A Texas Lutheran's Voice for Peace:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pray Today for Peace and Jerusalem Easter statement

This immediate request for prayer comes from Churches for Middle East Peace. Below you'll find the Easter statement of the Jerusalem Heads of Churches.

From CMEP: Pray Today for Peace
In late April the United Nations Security Council is scheduled to hold its quarterly open debate on the Middle East. The focus of discussion will likely be whether the Quartet—comprised of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States—has been able to achieve sufficient impetus to have the Israeli-Palestinian peace process move in a positive direction. In preparation for that discussion the Quartet meets today in Washington, DC.  

As people of faith, on this occasion we ask you to pray for peace and for God to make a way where no way has been found.  

CMEP offers the prayer below.

A Prayer for Peace on the Occasion of the April 11, 2012 Quartet Meeting

When your people quarrel and cannot find a way, you become the way.
     God, have mercy on us, your quarrelsome people.

When we fear that all we can do can never be enough, you become enough for us.
     Jesus, give your hope to us, your struggling people.

When we don’t do all that we could do, you call us to move forward.
     God, have mercy on us, your timid people.

When we dare to try once again to be the peacemakers you call us to be, you move among us.
     Jesus, give your strength to us, your tenacious people.  

For people in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank who suffer the shock of past violence and fear future violence,
     Give safety and comfort to your hurting people.

For people who work for peace yet see the increase of sorrow and despair,
     Sustain their perseverance and vision.

For people who generate violence and injury,
     Show them the better way of Your justice, mercy and faithfulness.

For people who sit at tables and talk of things with which others must live,
     Fill their hearts with love of neighbor and compassion for strangers.  

We pray for national and international leaders meeting this day in Washington, D.C.:
     Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy,
     Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State,
     General Ban Ki-moon, General-Secretary of the United Nations, and
     Sergei Lavrov, Foreign Minister of Russia.

We pray also for the Israeli and Palestinian national leaders:
     Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority, and
     Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel.

Generous God, give them persistence, wisdom and vision.
Give them love and compassion for all God's children.  

You, oh God, change hearts of stone into flesh,
     beat weapons into plows,
     give hope in the midst of despair.

May the fulfillment of your justice, mercy and faithfulness come.
May your call for peace be ever apparent in our words and actions.
You, oh God, who create Easter people,
Hear our prayers.


May the peace of Christ be with you, and all people, this and every day.   Rev. Doris E. Warrell, CMEP

The Easter Message of the Heads of Churches of Jerusalem

We, the Heads of Churches in the Holy Land, bring you our Easter greetings from Jerusalem, the City of the Resurrection, hope, and peace. 

Every year The Feast of the Resurrection revisits the church, the holy people of God everywhere. The faithful, through their Lenten journey and pilgrimage, walk in faith toward the empty tomb so that they may be filled with grace through the Risen and Triumphant Lord. The message of Easter speaks through the living church in the here and now; through their hopes and fears, joys and sorrows.  

The people of God, the “Living Stones” of the holy lands, anticipate through prayer and fasting to behold the joys and victories of the Risen and Triumphant Lord Jesus Christ. Christians in the region are continuously walking in the ‘Way of the Cross’. Injustice, oppression, incitement and subjugation are evil powers that require our diligent prayers and intentional advocacy. Our hearts are drawn in intercession for peace based on justice toward the people of Palestine and Israel, respect of human rights in Syria, Egypt, and the rest of the Middle East.

Reconciliation and Peace are the ultimate consequence and fruition of the Resurrection. Peace is no mere Easter greeting, but a call upon the church to strive for justice, equality, and reconciliation among all nations and peoples. We call upon the leaders of the nations to empower the peacemakers within their communities and countries, so that a generation of peace may arise and the light of peace may shine from this region to the whole world.

Our celebration of the Resurrection is the joy of the light that shines on in the darkness, and our hope for the whole world is to be aglow with the radiance of God’s peace and life. As an Easter hymn goes: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.” Alleluia! Christ is Risen. He is Risen indeed. Alleluia!

+Patriarch Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarch
 +Patriarch Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch
 +Patriarch Torkom II Manoogian, (Archbishop Nourhan Manoogian, Patriarchal Vicar), Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarch
 +Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, ofm, Custos of the Holy Land
 +Archbishop Anba Abraham, Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, Jerusalem
 +Archbishop Swerios Malki Murad, Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate
 +Archbishop Abouna Matthias, Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchate
 +Archbishop Joseph-Jules Zerey, Greek-Melkite-Catholic Patriarchate
 +Msgr. George Shehan, Maronite Patriarchal Exarchate
 +Bishop Suheil Dawani, Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East
 +Bishop Munib Younan, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land
 +Bishop Pierre Malki, Syrian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate
 +Bishop Joseph Kelekian, Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate

(Easter 2012)

--- --- ---

To receive regular bulletins from Ann Hafften, sign up at my blog - A Texas Lutheran's Voice for Peace:

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter: Sadness Transformed into Joyous Hope

Here is the Easter Message of Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.  Also video of Pastor Mitri Raheb in a blog post from a traveling Yale group.
Bishop Younan’s Easter Message of Resurrection: Sadness Transformed Into Joyous Hope

“They stood still, looking sad.” - Luke 24:17 

I was recently walking from the Jaffa Gate to my office through the streets of the old city of Jerusalem when I encountered a long-time shopkeeper acquaintance. He was the kind of person always full of energy, always talkative, always with a smile on his face. This day—as we were approaching Holy Week and Easter—he was quiet, just standing there, looking a bit sad. “What’s wrong,” I asked. “Nothing,” he answered. When I pressured him, he said, “Nothing is well in Jerusalem.” The rest of that day, I asked myself, “Why?”  

According to psychologists, sadness is a degree of frustration. Sadness grows out of confusion coming from a disappointing sequence of events. 

On that first Easter afternoon, those two Emmaus disciples stood there on the road, looking sad. They were sad because they were confused. They had heard the proclamation that Jesus was risen, but they were overwhelmed by other events, other factors that led them to question, to doubt, to feel frustrated so much that they could hardly move one foot in front of the other. They wanted nothing more than to sit down in the middle of the road and to cry. 

So why this sadness, this frustration, this confusion? 

First, it was a question of the mass media. In that day, this was the circulation of messages by word of mouth. The dominant message was that the body of the one crucified on Golgotha had gone missing. Now rumors were rampant. “The disciples had come in the night and stolen the body,” some had said. “It was the gardener,” said others. “It must have been the soldiers,” still others suggested. These followers of Jesus were grief stricken and could not think clearly, and now on top of that, their thoughts were pulled first this way and then that by the mass media of the day. 

We all know that the media often presents multiple images, sometimes conflicting, often creating doubt and confusion over what to believe. We all know that the mass media can play a big role in interpreting the message, even creating news from nothing, yes even twisting the truth. When such messages turn blatantly false, we call this incitement, causing people to act in ways we would never have expected. Why is it that our world seems built on such incitement in the realm of public relations? 

These disciples found themselves listening to the mass media of their day, rather than relying on the sure and certain word that Jesus had taught them. 

[Click the link to
Easter Message for the complete text.]


Yales's "Common Ground: Sacred Land?"

Students and others who took part in Yale University's recent Holy Land trip have been posting a blog throughout Lent.  Here is a link to one post,
Day 19 – Palestinian Christians: "The Living Stones"

I recommend looking through a number of the blog posts. This one in particular includes two video clips of Pastor Mitri Raheb speaking to the group.

"One of the most memorable persons we met was the Rev. Mitri Raheb, pastor of
Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem and founder of the DIYAR  Consortium that includes several institutions that focus their services on education, the needs of women, youth, and the elderly in the Bethlehem area."

-- -- --

To receive regular bulletins from Ann Hafften, sign up at my blog - A Texas Lutheran's Voice for Peace: