Photo by Kobi Richter/TPS on January 03, 2018
It is rare for a Jewish celebration to be disrupted in Israel, but then again, a candle-lighting ceremony last month at Jerusalem’s First Station compound was far from typical: The event was sponsored by Yaakov Hatzadik, a small Catholic community of Hebrew speakers based in the downtown area of the capital, and marked both the Chanukah and Christmas holidays.
While many people viewed the lighting as a significant victory for interfaith relations in the Holy City, others took a contrary view: The ceremony was disrupted members of Lahava, a far-right wing group that began by discouraging romantic relations between Jews and Christians and now seeks to marginalize non-Jews in many aspects of Israeli society under the guise of opposing “assimilation.”
“Our dialogue is not always seen positively by the Jewish society,” said one member of Kehilat Zion who would only agree to have her first name, Ilana, published. “But I haven’t missed a meeting for the last two years. We host the [Christian] community for the Jewish holidays; they came to our houses for Passover and the Jewish New Year. We go to their church for Christmas and the New Years Eve.”
The candle-lighting ceremony highlights the challenges faced by the Hebrew-speaking Christian community. The community of about 1000 people was born at the tail end of the 1950s, when interfaith couples arrived in Israel, as did Christians who moved to Israel, integrated into the secular life of Israel and spoke Hebrew, all the while retaining their Catholicism.
Father Rafic Nahra, the newly-appointed Patriarchal Vicar for Hebrew-speaking Catholics in Israel, told Tazpit Press Service that he wasn’t surprised by the Lahava disruption.
“As a Christian who was born in the Middle East, when I first arrived in Israel I didn’t know what anti-Judaism was,” says “I didn’t know about the negative relations between Jews and Christians rooted in Europe, but I was impressed by the political tension between Jews and Christians in Israel, and I wanted to do something about it.”
Speaking to Tazpit Press Service (TPS) on Thursday , a day before terrorists killed 11 people in a church in Cairo, Father Nahra says he is not surprised about the ongoing difficulties of the Christian communities in the Middle East. After nearly 15 years in Jerusalem, he has long witnessed the tensions of the region and the politics that make creating real interfaith dialogue between the three monotheistic religions difficult.
“I know the Middle East and the Arab world very well. I am part of it, there are no surprises,” he says.
Still, the meeting point between Christianity, Judaism and the Hebrew language forms a central theme of Nahra’s ministry. After being born in Ismailia, Egypt in 1959 , Nahra grew up in Lebanon, studied in seminaries in France and Italy before relocating to Jerusalem in 2003. His community counts not more than 1000 faithful spread over six cities, many of whom face unique challenges as Christians trying to fit into a Jewish majority culture. Although most members of the community are fully integrated into Israeli society, there is a lot of ignorance about Christians in Israel.
Read more at https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/100555/hebrew-speaking-catholics-navigate-challenges-foster-interfaith-dialogue/#sC5AaRuLGIvCCKUx.99
A common but mistaken reading of the current strategic situation in the Middle East presents the region as approaching the end of a period of instability. The “return of the Arab state” is one of the more arresting refrains that this perspective has produced.
According to this view, the wars in Syria and in Iraq are drawing to a close. The defeat of the Islamic State in these countries represents the eclipse of the political ambitions of Salafi jihadi Islamism for the foreseeable future. Assad is set to restore his repressive but stable rule in Syria. In Iraq, the firm reaction by the government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to the Kurdish bid for independence has ended prospects of the imminent fragmentation of the country. In Lebanon, attempts by Sunni jihadis to export the Syrian war have failed, and all is quiet.
In July 2016, Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria (pictured in front at center)—the leader of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church—hosts Ignatius Aphrem II (left), patriarch of Antioch and All East of the Syriac Orthodox Church, and Aram I, head of Lebanon’s Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
While Christianity traces its birthplace to the Middle East, that region has been arguably the most hostile area for the religion in recent years. A new report by the Christian charity group Open Doors has found that most of Israel’s neighbors, including Egypt, Jordan, Syria and the Palestinian territories, are among the world’s most dangerous places for Christians.
Kingdom says Jerusalem agreed to pay compensation over deaths of three people, in order to end diplomatic standoff
Jordanian protesters wave national flags and chant slogans during a demonstration near the Israeli embassy in the capital Amman on July 28, 2017, calling for the shutting down the of the embassy, expelling the ambassador, and canceling the 1994 peace treaty with Israel. (AFP PHOTO / KHALIL MAZRAAWI)
Israel is paying $5 million in compensation to the families of two people shot dead by an Israeli embassy guard last year, as well as a Jordanian judge killed in a 2014 incident, diplomats in Jordan told the al-Rai newspaper Saturday.
Ultra-Orthodox women and children attend a ceremony to welcome new Torah scrolls in a neighborhood of Jerusalem, Oct. 1 2014.
Reuven K., who is about 30 years old, is an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic man who lives in Betar Illit, one of Israel’s most prominent ultra-Orthodox localities. Reuven studies in a yeshiva, a Jewish school for Talmudic learning, but works half of each day as a wholesale merchant selling religious ritual supplies. His wife, Bracha, works as a bookkeeper in a governmental institution.
Palestinian boss Mahmoud Abbas recently declared that Israel is “a colonial enterprise that has nothing to do with Jewishness.” Moses, King David and thousands of years of Jewish history would disagree. Israel and the Jews are part of the story of human civilization. Over 50% of the human race has a holy book that tells of the Jewish journey to Israel. That includes Mohammed’s own copy of the Koran.
Israel isn’t a “colonial enterprise.” Palestine is.
Anyone who wants to find out where the name Israel comes from can open the Book of Genesis 32:29. The story even appears in Islamic hadiths. But where does “Palestine” really come from?
It may not be a shooting war. For the most part. (Though don’t tell that to some Republicans at a charity game practice who were targeted by a Bernie Sanders supporter.) But it’s a war all the same.
The war is still being fought with paper and protests. But it’s based on irreconcilable differences between parts of the country. Much like the ones that brought on the war between brothers.
This is a topic that I’ve written about quite often over this past year. Rush Limbaugh saw fit to read and promote some of those pieces. And now I’ll be giving a talk on the subject at the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Conference in Myrtle Beach, SC. It’ll take place from Jan 20-22. I’m scheduled to speak on the 21st, but there are plenty of other great speakers there.
The speech was loud and clear. It wasn’t just the “may your house be demolished” curse that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas fired at the leader of the strongest world power. It was the utterly delusional ideology, with false claims that only make the Palestinians sink deeper into a path of delusions and collapse.
The reactions were predictable: We have to understand him. He’s under a lot of pressure. He has no political horizon. The Palestinians are desperate. He didn’t really mean it.
A document drafted by members of the global Christian community convening at the 3rd International Christian Forum held in Moscow, detailed how over the past 10 years the Middle East’s Christian population has shrunk by 80 percent and warned that unless current trends are reversed Christianity “will vanish” from its ancient homelands in a few years’ time. Around the year 2000, there were 1.5 million Christians in Iraq, whereas today there are only 100,000, roughly a 93 percent drop, the document notes. In Syria, the largest cities “have lost almost all of their Christian population.”
Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, has delivered a speech triggered by his rage at the President of the United States Donald Trump, going so far as to hurl the most bitter curse in the Arabic language at the POTUS: “May your house be destroyed.”
This imprecation does not merely relate to someone’s present home, but to all the members of his family being thrown into the street to lead lives of destitution, humiliation, and shame. Only someone familiar with Middle Eastern culture understands the real significance of this curse.
The 1964 presidential election was the second in which I voted. Lyndon Johnson who had succeeded John Kennedy was running against Barry Goldwater. I didn’t like either candidate: Johnson’s personal characteristics were obnoxious, though he had achieved much, especially in the area of civil rights; Goldwater’s personal characterizes seemed fine, but I disapproved of his conservative political views.
I was shocked to read an article in Fact magazine, based on interviews with more than 1,000 psychiatrists, which concluded that Goldwater was mentally unstable and psychologically unfit to be president. It was Lyndon Johnson whose personal fitness to hold the highest office I questioned. Barry Goldwater seemed emotionally stable with excellent personal characteristics, but highly questionable politics. The article was utterly unpersuasive, and in the end, I reluctantly voted for Lyndon Johnson. Barry Goldwater went back to the Senate, where he served with great distinction and high personal morality. Lyndon Johnson got us deeply into an unwinnable war that hurt our nation. The more than 1,000 psychiatrists, it turned out, were dead wrong in their diagnosis and predictions.