The Jordanian army sent Christian military officers to Christian sites in Palestine and Jerusalem in a symbolic move that reflects the kingdom’s aim to promote pluralism and equality between its citizens.
A worshipper lights candles in the church of Nativity in Bethlehem in the West Bank, Jan. 6, 2016.
Dr. Feras Haddad is a physician in the Jordanian military. He and his family were chosen to participate in a three-day pilgrimage tour with other Jordanian Christian military officials to Christian holy places in Palestine and Israel. So far, this newly implemented idea seems to be a one-time initiative by the Jordanian army.
“It is a great move and it was an amazing experience to see the Christian sites in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth,” Haddad told Al-Monitor.
Haddad, who visited Palestine before as part of military missions to Gaza and Ramallah, said the experience of visiting the religious sites was very special. “I have been to the Vatican, Brussels, Iraq’s Najav, but these visits dwarf in comparison with seeing the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the Church of Annunciation in Nazareth and the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem,” the doctor said.
The trip to Palestine coincided with the annual Muslim hajj, in which hundreds of Jordanian military personnel are chosen annually to partake in the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca. “The importance of this move,” Haddad said of the Christian sites tour, was that it provides for “equal opportunity” to all members of the Jordanian army.
According to a report by the Amman-based Catholic website Aboun.org, the pilgrimage of the Christian Jordanian officers took place Aug. 13 and included 24 Jordanian military officers and their families. Maj. Areej Hadaddin, a female officer, told the website that the trip, paid for by the Jordanian army, reflects in full the path of the country’s leadership. “This is the kind of activity that helps create the community spirit within the army for people from different backgrounds.”
Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, head of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem, was quotedin the Jordanian daily ad-Dustour on Aug. 14 as praising this unique activity of the Jordanian army by saying, “This is an act written in golden letters. It is a historic new heroism that shows the love between Jordanians, whether Muslim or Christian and whether military or civilians. It also reflects their sincere interest and priority to Jerusalem and the Palestinian cause.”
Ghazi Musharbash, a former Jordanian parliamentarian for the Christian seat in the Jordanian capital, Amman, said he expects this kind of pilgrimage to be repeated annually.” Musharbash told Al-Monitor that such trips strengthen ties with Palestine and help bond Jordanians and Palestinians.
But Musharbash said that efforts to bring Christians and Muslims together must start on the east bank of the Jordan river. “What we need is to work much harder on the issue of intercommunal living at home in Jordan as well.”
Musharbash warned about attempts to politicize the visit — which required visas from the Israeli Embassy — that have called the tour “normalization.” He said, “Visiting a prisoner is not equal to sympathizing with or legitimizing the jailer.”
Brig. Gen. Imad Mayyah, the head of the Jordanian Evangelical Synod, told Al-Monitor that such visits are extremely important for translating calls for pluralism and equality. “Such activities are a source of pride to all of us and I hope we can extend these kinds of activities in other fields and with other institutions as well.”
A variety of governmental and public organizations in Jordan annually provide financial support to their staff who go on the hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.
Hundreds representing the armed forces, the civil defense system and an accompanying medical staff set out Aug. 10 for the Saudi holy cities of Mecca and Medina for the annual Islamic hajj. In greeting the departing 45th consecutive Islamic pilgrimage visit, the assistant to the army’s chief of staff, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Ben Yassin, was quoted as saying that the “support by the army to this annual pilgrimage is a sign that the Hashemite leadership doesn’t waste any opportunity to do what is needed to preserve the Arab and Islamic character of the armed forces.”
For his part, Mayyah, a former parliamentarian for the Christian seat of the city of Madaba, told Al-Monitor that he hopes the idea of supporting the pilgrimage to Christian sites is not restricted to just Christian members of the military. “I would like to see members of all faiths in the Jordanian army also visiting Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jerusalem,” he said.
Hanna Kildani, who is now the Catholic church’s vicar for Israel in Nazareth for the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, said in a 2015 lecture that Jordan’s Christians number 239,003, which amount to nearly 4% of the total Jordanian population of 6 million (excluding refugees and foreign laborers).
While the Christian community in Jordan is relatively small, its influence in business, education and politics is much bigger than its numbers.
The move of the Jordanian army to support the visit by Christian military officers to Palestine’s Christian sites is symbolic at best but is a reflection of the country’s leadership aim to set the tone in favor of a sense of pluralism and equality between the kingdom’s citizens and at the same time boost relations with Palestine and Palestinians.
We all know that the midterm elections are different this time around. They are usually like “all politics,” namely local. But this time around they’re different. They are all presidential, all about Trump, as most everything is. And for the anti-Trump crowd — I’m talking about the political commentators and “analysts” — any and all things bad are held to be Trump’s fault. This is presumably because they believe that their condemnations of Trump will result in a Democrat takeover of the House of Representatives.
A new book explores how graffiti artists in Beirut skirt limitations on expression to share political criticism in the streets.
A photograph of the book “Drawing Lines” by Tamara Zantout, taken at the launch of the book at Beit Beirut cultural center, Beirut, Lebanon, Oct. 25, 2018.
BEIRUT — Beirut’s alleyways and streets are peppered in bright, detailed and provocative graffiti. Street artists use the medium, which exists in a legal grey area, to express their identity and give voice to political frustrations.
On Tuesday, San Francisco will become the largest city in the nation to allow noncitizens to vote, and the city has spent $310,000 on a “new registration system” specifically aimed at illegals. As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, the plan is the first in the state and follows Proposition N, a 2016 ballot measure allowing votes by noncitizens over the age of 18, reside in the city, and have children under age 19.
By the count of the Chronicle, only 49 noncitizens have signed up to vote on Tuesday, which works out to $6,326 for every illegal voter, but there’s more to the story. City officials are worried that voting could expose illegals to ICE, who might come looking and possibly deport somebody. So supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, a backer of Proposition N, urged the city to spend $500,000 to warn the illegals.
At first Sabbath service after massacre, shooting survivors are blessed; rabbi says to those who condemned Trump’s visit: ‘No one tells me how to welcome a guest in my own home’
On November 3, 2018, a joint communal Shabbat prayer service at Pittsburgh’s Beth Shalom Conservative synagogue following the massacre a week prior which saw 11 Jewish community members killed. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/Times of Israel)
PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania — A week after an anti-Semitic shooter massacred 11 worshipers at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, the community embraced each other in prayer on Saturday.
IS EUROPE RETURNING to the horrors of the 1930s? In an assessment typical of the moment, Max Holleran writes in the New Republic that “in the past ten years, new right-wing political movements have brought together coalitions of Neo-Nazis with mainstream free-market conservatives, normalizing political ideologies that in the past rightly caused alarm.” He sees this trend creating a surge in “xenophobic populism.” Writing in Politico, Katy O’Donnell agrees: “Nationalist parties now have a toehold everywhere from Italy to Finland, raising fears the continent is backpedaling toward the kinds of policies that led to catastrophe in the first half of the 20th century.” Jewish leaders like Menachem Margolin, head of the European Jewish Association, sense “a very real threat from populist movements across Europe.”
IS EUROPE RETURNING to the horrors of the 1930s? In an assessment typical of the moment, Max Holleran writes in the New Republic that “in the past ten years, new right-wing political movements have brought together coalitions of Neo-Nazis with mainstream free-market conservatives, normalizing political ideologies that in the past rightly caused alarm.”
We’ve been told for a long time that the ceasefire is on the way. It had many names in the past, such as tahdiah, hudna, and most recently—”an arrangement.” On Friday, once again, reports started emerging that an agreement has been reached. Several hours later, southern Israel was hit with a barrage of rockets. What happened?
And He said, “You will not be able to see My face, for No Human Being shall see Me and live.” — Shemot 33:20
Faith is deeper than knowledge. While scientific data is absorbed only in the brain, faith permeates all parts of the human personality. Nothing is untouched, all spiritual limbs quiver, and everything is transformed. It is thus more difficult to acquire faith than knowledge, and faith has a more radical effect on the human being.
A Catholic archbishop recently touched on an unspoken but highly subversive phenomenon: How anti-Christian forces exploit Christian teachings to empower those who seek to dismantle Christian civilization, Muslims being chief among them.
In an interview published last summer by the Italian outlet IlGionarle.it, Catholic Archbishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan said:
The King of Jordan, not some lowly clerk, announced that Jordan will not extend the currently existing leases renting two parcels of land to Israel. One is the so-called Island of Peace in the northern Naharayim area and the other located in the southern Arava, near Tzofar, an agricultural cooperative village (moshav). Jordan was entirely within its rights to decide not to renew the leases