Christian Information Centre (Jerusalem) - (eMail address: cicbarat@netmedia.net.il) - on behalf of:
Greek Orthodox, Latin and Armenian Patriarchs, Franciscan Custos of the Holy Land, Coptic, Syriac and Ethiopian Archbishops,
Anglican and Luteran Bishops, Greek Catholic, Maronite and Catholic Syriac Patriarchal Vicars

  • St. George's Cathedral, Jerusalem - Centenary celebrations
  • News:

    *We shall observe the centenary of our Cathedral on St. Luke's Day, October 18th, 1998 with a Eucharist at 11 am. At the same time, we shall be observing a three day Festival of Flowers to encourage visitors from near and far. It is thought that this will be the first such Festival ever held in the Holy Land. We can promise you some stunning arrangements to remind us of the purpose of our Cathedral and its ministry to local people as well as to pilgrims. The theme will be "Flowers in Glory."

    Friday, October 16th - 9 am to 6 pm Saturday, October 17th - 9 am to 6 pm Sunday, October 18th - 12 noon to 6 pm

    (The Presence - The Occasional Newsletter - March 1998 - No. 50)

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  • Windows on a Sad Jerusalem
  • Excerpts:

    * Palestinian Arabs living in Jerusalem are defined by Israeli law as 'resident aliens', and not as citizens of Israel. Despite the fact that he has lived here all his life, this man is now being told that he no longer has that right to reside in the country of his birth.

    * American Jews residing in the US not only maintain their right to be holders of dual (American and Israeli) citizenship, but those residing in Jerusalem for any length of time, and at any given time, do not experience anxiety of losing either their American passports or their Israeli identity cards. This policy clearly only applies to non-Jews - primarily Palestinians.

    * US consular staff are aware of such indiscriminate violations of the human and existential rights of any person holding American citizenship. Yet, any Palestinian with both a Jerusalem identity card and a US Passport who has sought the help of the US Consulate in Jerusalem over this issue, has been told that there is nothing they can do to help.

    (By Douglas Dicks - MECC NewsReport - Spring 1998)

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  • "Share Eucharist with other Christians" - George Carey
  • Excerpts:

    * The Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, has appealed to the Roman Catholic Church to drop its ban on non-Catholics taking the Eucharist at its services.

    * His appeal brought a rapid response from Cardinal Basil Hume, head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, who spoke of the "need to explore with our ecumenical partners" the nature of the sacrament and the theology of the Church.

    * The Roman Catholic Church's restriction of the Eucharist to its own church members is based on the church's doctrines about the sacrament: it holds that through transubstantiation the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ, while for most Protestants the elements are symbolical.

    * In 1971 the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) agreed on a definition of the eucharistic sacrament that came close to acknowledging transubstantiation. It affirmed the fact of a "mysterious and radical change" to the elements - bread and wine.

    * The issue of transubstantiation has a long history of dividing Christian communities. In England, the Popish Recusants Act of 1672 required appointees to government offices to swear: "I do believe that in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper there is not any transubstantiation of the elements of bread and wine".

    (By Cedric Pulford - ENI Bulletin - 13 May 1998)

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  • Palestinians 50 years on
  • Excerpts:

    * Yasser Arafat's PLO has failed the Palestinian people. But culture and demography are on their side. It is time to start planning the next phase of the struggle.

    * From the beginning, the Palestinians have been the great repressed of the Zionist consciousness. When Ahad Ha'am pointed out early on that there were Palestinians in the land of Palestine, the immediate Zionist response was to ignore the issue altogether. Later, as Israel Shahak has shown, they mostly focused on finding ways to get rid of the Palestinians. Coexistence and accommodation were never considered as a serious option, only a temporary strategy. We know that the idea of expulsion was rooted in Theodor Herzl's mind well before the turn of the century, when he wrote "we shall spirit them [the Palestinians] across the frontier." As this idea developed into a practical policy, separation was seen as a necessary first step in its application. For the Zionist movement, and later for Israel, the problem of another people living in Palestine was never seen as a moral problem. They only saw it (and I think they still do) as a demographic problem requiring a military-political solution. Some Zionists solved the problem by an act of mental annihilation, simply denying the Palestinians' very existence or identity. Golda Meir, one-time Israeli prime minister, declared that "there is no such thing as a Palestinian people." The writer Jane Peters went to great lengths to establish in a massive book that Palestinians were immigrants from the surrounding countries. In this light, it is interesting that, until recently, the word Palestinian was not used by the Israelis. The Palestinians inside Israel, though citizens of the state, were simply referred to as "the minorities" and identified by religion or ethnic origin, as in the Muslim minority, the Christian minority, the Druze minority, the Bedouin minority. Sometimes the word "Arab" was used to reduce these "minorities" to a faceless, alien group, part of the equally faceless 300 million inhabitants of the world that surrounds the state of Israel and who also happen not to be Jewish.

    * In the next few years, as the older Palestinian generation dies out and the younger generation takes over, fundamental changes are likely to take place in the political organisation and goals of the Palestinian people in regard to action within Israel itself, in the West Bank and Gaza and also in the Palestinian Diaspora.

    * While Netanyahu is cynically telling the world that he is ready to negotiate a full peace with the Palestinians, at the same time he is declaring that a united Jerusalem will forever be Israel's capital, that most of the West Bank and Gaza will always remain under Israeli rule and that the Jewish settlements will never be dismantled but will continue to increase and expand.

    (By Hisham Sharabi - Al-Ahram - 14-20 May 1998)

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  • The sum of two failures
  • Excerpts:

    * More than 91 per cent of the West Bank and Gaza remains under occupation, and in a way that makes most of the privileges of the Authority, including movement between the West Bank and Gaza, dependent on the prior approval of the Israeli authorities.

    While this separation gave the world a Palestinian Authority, it took away the natural framework consisting in the leadership of a national movement.

    * Families that have inhabited Jerusalem for hundreds of years are now considered guests of the Israeli government; the mere right to reside can be withdrawn from them at any time. Meanwhile, any settler from Siberia or New York has the right to citizenship and residency in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza or Jerusalem. In recent years, Israel has built 60,000 housing units for Jews in Jerusalem and none for the Arabs. A total of 38,500 Jewish housing units have been built so far on land confiscated from Arabs.

    * The situation is complicated further by the high level of taxation imposed by the Palestinian Authority, which alienates capital and hinders investments. The bureaucracy is inflated, the number of employees in the different security apparatuses exaggerated. This process, in turn, necessitates a further increase in taxation, and creates a vicious circle of failure and impoverishment.

    * Bantustanisation: Perhaps the most dangerous Israeli policy is the parcelling of Palestinian territory into separate cantons, following the model applied in South Africa under apartheid. In Palestine, it has produced four separate cantons: the Gaza Strip, Jerusalem; the southern area of the West Bank, including Bethlehem and Hebron; and the centre and northern part of the West Bank. During periods of closure, it is impossible to move from one area to another. Moving between villages and towns is also very difficult. The cumulative effect of closure must be taken into account.

    * In Jerusalem and in Palestine, the facts on the ground clearly illustrate the evolution of a policy of racial separation - one based on religion rather than colour.

    * While Israeli policy aims to destroy the material basis of an independent Palestinian state, it is cementing an apartheid regime as a controlling mechanism.

    * The Palestinian-Israeli situation is an official truce in the shadow of an actual struggle on the edge of an abyss.

    (By Mustafa Barghouthi- Al-Ahram - 14-20 May 1998 )

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  • Facing an illogical challenge
  • Excerpts:

    * As Netanyahu orchestrates his campaign to bury the peace process we can only hope, for the sake of the region and Israel, that he fails.

    (By Ibrahim Nafie - Al-Ahram - 14-20 May 1998)

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  • Fifty years of struggle
  • Excerpts:

    * The Arabs divided.

    (By Walid Khalidi - Al-Ahram - 14-20 May 1998)

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  • Paul's Caesarea prison cell identified
  • Excerpts:

    * Archaeologists at Caesarea have identified the prison room in which Paul of Tarsus, one of the most important figures of early Christianity, was held. This was revealed in May by Amir Drori, director of the Antiquities Authority. He said that archaeologists in Israel have uncovered many sites which are of importance to Christians which have not been restored for visitors because of lack of funds. Paul, known, as the Apostle to Christians, was born a Jew named Saul. According to the New Testament, he was educated by Rabbi Gamliel. He had engaged in suppressing Christianity, until he was converted on the road to Damascus, whereupon he embarked on a series of missionary journeys. Paul was imprisoned in Caesarea, but he demanded it was his right as a Roman citizen to be heard by Caesar. He was sent to Rome, where he eventually was beheaded. Drori said that the room has been identified on the basis of historic accounts and of inscriptions at the site by the Praetorian Guard, which was stationed there.

    (By Haim Shapiro - The Jerusalem Post - 20 May 1998)

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  • Open your gates, Jerusalem
  • Excerpts:

    * The essential problem for Christians in the Arab world is the distinction between the spiritual meaning of the word "Israel" and the political meaning of the world "Israel" as a State. The confusion between the two meanings leads to inappropriate interpretations and constraining tensions. We wish the nuances to be clear. We pray for peace, "the fruit of justice", so that the gates of Jerusalem may be reopened to all the Christians of the Middle East. We also pray that the Holy Father's desire will be fulfilled with a biblical pilgrimage of faith and peace in Abraham's steps, starting from Ur in Mesopotamia to Mount Sinai, passing through the Fertile Crescent of Syria, Aleppo, Damascus, Jordan, Bethlehem and Jerusalem. We hope "against hope", because God is always "faithful to his promises" and "nothing is impossible for him".

    (By Bishop Boutros Maryati - Aleppo for Armenians, Syria - L'Osservatore Romano - 20 May 1998)

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  • Pontifical Council to sign agreement with Al-Azhar
  • News:

    * A communiqué released this afternoon announced that "on May 28, in the offices of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, an agreement is to be signed between the Pontifical Council and the Permanent Committee of Al-Azhar al-Sharif, Cairo, for Dialogue among Monotheistic Religions. The agreement will be to set up a joint committee for dialogue and cooperation between the two institutions."

    (Vatican Information Service - 22 May 1998)

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  • Terms of Redemption according to the Torah
  • Excerpts:

    * Love of the land is only enough for redeeming the soil from its natural enemies; it is not enough for the redemption of the nation and the world. For this it's necessary for the Israelite inhabitants of the land to become a light unto the nations - first by establishing a government based on justice and compassion for all, then by expressing our willingness to sacrifice for our country and our ideals, and finally by establishing a democratically mandated, Torah-true society. This is the way to bring the Messiah.

    (By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin - The Jerusalem Post Magazine - 22 May 1998)

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  • The Shroud: Image of Human suffering
  • Excerpts:

    * Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did not mean to write off the peace process when he told a group of foreign diplomats that "peace collapsed two years ago."

    * Perhaps the US will learn not to put forward detailed bridging proposals in the future, and Netanyahu will learn not to push for greater US involvement, under the false assumption that he can control the extent to which it will be to Israel's advantage.

    (The Jerusalem Post - 25 May 1998)

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  • Don't eulogize peace
  • Excerpts:

    * Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did not mean to write off the peace process when he told a group of foreign diplomats that "peace collapsed two years ago."

    * Perhaps the US will learn not to put forward detailed bridging proposals in the future, and Netanyahu will learn not to push for greater US involvement, under the false assumption that he can control the extent to which it will be to Israel's advantage.

    (The Jerusalem Post - 25 May 1998)

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  • Netanyahu's US offensive
  • Excerpts:

    * Netanyahu said a firm 'no' to the Clinton administration's proposals to revive the peace process.

    * Netanyahu was scornful of the Palestinian demand of independent statehood. "We seek a solution that will give the people who are living on that wall, the Palestinians, the ability to govern their lives but not any ability to threaten our life." But former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres voiced an opposing view while in Washington on the same day to receive an honorary degree from American University. He told his audience that Israel should recognize a Palestinian state. "We don't have the moral right to dominate another people... They're entitled to their own lives, their own respect and independence," he said.

    * Upon his arrival at Dallas International Airport, Netanyahu told the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Aharanoth:, "With all friendship and appreciation to America, an Israeli prime minister should know how to say 'no' to the United States," and added "I am going to say 'no' to the Unites States, because as prime minister you should know how to do something other than stand on the White House lawn with everyone applauding." Not only did Netanyahu say 'no' to the US administration, he was applauded, in Washington, for having done so.

    (By Thomas Gorguissian - Al-Ahram - 21-27 May 1998 )

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  • Marriage of Zionist colonialism and aggressive clericalism
  • Excerpts:

    * Granting power to the Orthodox establishment is not a novelty introduced by the Netanyahu government, but rather one of the structural features of the state of Israel since its establishment.

    (By Tikva Honig-Parnass - Al-Ahram - 21-27 May 1998)

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  • Sporadic clashes on Jerusalem Day
  • Excerpts:

    * Israelis celebrate Jerusalem Day according to the Hebrew calendar, marking Israel's occupation of the Old City and East Jerusalem on June 7, l967. Israel regards the whole of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a claim it formally declared in July 1980, and which was rejected by the international community.

    * Bishop of the Greek Catholic church in Jerusalem Lutfi Laham said that the high military presence, showed "how divided the city rally is." A spokesman for the Latin Patriarchate said that the Vatican, "has not and will not recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel." That is why the Embassy of the Vatican has been located in Jaffa and not in Jerusalem, he explained Lutheran Bishop Munib Yunan pointed out that the Jewish extremism centering on the Al-Aqsa compound, "is expansionist, not religious. ...Our position is that Jerusalem should be for the Arabs and the Jews, a capital for both states, free of prejudice."

    (By Julius Purcell - The Jerusalem Times - 29 May 1998)

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  • How tax-dollars fund settlements
  • Excerpts:

    * For several months now, the US government has pressured Israel to observe a "settlement time-out". In the meantime, Israel has continued to expand settlements in the West Bank and Gaza.

    (The Jerusalem Times - 29 May 1998)

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  • The refugees today
  • Excerpts:

    * Today, according to a report issued by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), there are 3,417,688 refugees registered in 59 UNRWA camps. Of these, approximately two-thirds actually live in the camps of the West Bank (19), Gaza Strip (8), Jordan (10), Lebanon (12), and Syria (10). UNRWA makes a distinction between refugees who were "dispossessed" (refugees of the War of 1948) and those who were "displaced" (those who became refugees, or were uprooted a second time during the June War of 1967). The refugee question is one of the five issues postponed until final status talks under the Oslo Accords.

    (The Jerusalem Times - 29 May 1998)

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  • The case against a papal visit
  • Excerpts:

    * It is common knowledge that the pope is planning to visit the Holy Land toward the year 2000. The reasons are obvious - and laudable.

    * Diplomats can live with ambiguities, but when concrete problems have to be confronted in the immediate here-and-now, they can become dicey: The pope may hope to make a pilgrimage to the celestial city of Jerusalem, to Civitas Dei, but at every turn he will be confronted with the contentious, confrontational, and acerbic problem, of the terrestrial Jerusalem.

    (By Shlomo Avineri - The Jerusalem Post - 29 May 1998)

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  • Les Palestiniens, victimes des victimes depuis un demi-siècle
  • Excerpts:

    * Après cinquante années d'exil, je reste encore stupéfait devoir jusqu'où iront les autorités israéliennes et leurs partisans, pour escamoter le fait qu'un demi-siècle s'est passé sans restitution ni reconnaissance, sans le respect des droits de l'homme pour les Palestiniens et, comme les évènements le montrent assurément, sans qu'aucun lien ait été établi entre la suppression de ces droits et la politique officielle d'Israël. Prenons le cas de la terre et de la citoyenneté. Environ 750,000 Palestiniens ont été expulsés en 1948. Ils sont à présent 4 millions en exil.Quelque120,000 autres (un million aujourd'hui) sont restés sur place et sont devenus israéliens. Ils constituent une minorité de l'ordre de 18% de la population, des citoyens à part entière... qui ne le sont que de nom. Enfin, 2,5 millions de Palestiniens vivent en cis-jordanie et dans la bande de Gaza, sans aucune souveraineté sur ces terres. Israël est le seul Etat au monde à n'être pas celui de ses vrais citoyens. Il est l'Etat du peuple juif tout entier qui détient en conséquence des droits que les non-juifs n'ont pas. En l'absence d'une Constitution, Israël est gouverné par des Lois fondamentales dont en particulier celle du Retour qui permet à tout juif, d'où qu'il vienne, d'émigrer en Israël et de devenir citoyen de ce pays, quand ce droit est refusé aux Palestiniens qui y sont nés. Est considéré comme terre juive 93% de l'Etat d'Israël, ce qui veut dire qu'un non-juif ne peut la louer, la vendre ou l'acheter. Avant 1948, la communauté juive de Palestine possédait à peine plus de 6% du territoire.

    (By Edward Said - Le Monde/Sélection Hebdomadaire - 30 Mai 1998)

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  • Conservatives at Western Wall
  • Excerpts:

    * The leader of Israel's Conservative movement yesterday sent his thanks to the Jerusalem police for making possible a prayer service by Conservative worshippers at the Western Wall on Shavuot.

    * An attempt to hold a similar service last year failed after the police evacuated the worshippers, telling them they could no longer protect them.

    (By Haim Shapiro - The Jerusalem Post - 2 June 1998)

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  • Metropolitan Jerusalem
  • Excerpts:

    * This week, the Knesset is debating the most significant expansion of Jerusalem since 1967. If approved, the plan under consideration would annex vast areas west of the city into the Jerusalem Municipality, and open up large tracts of green space to massive development. The official reason given for the Jerusalem expansion is demographics. According to statistics provided by the Jerusalem Municipality, the present ratio of Jewish to Arab populations - approximately 70:30 - could decline to as narrow a margin as 55:45 by the year 2020. For this reason, the city argues, Jerusalem must expand so that more housing for Jews can be built, and the current balance can be more or less preserved.

    Note: We have a Metropolitan Jerusalem , civil , Jewish, ideologically and a Jerusalem old, sacred, mystical, of history, of mystery, of tragedy.

    (By Jay Michaelson - In Jerusalem - 5 June 1998)

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  • 50 year of conflict
  • Excerpts:

    * Rewriting the history of the victor is in some respects easier than coming to terms with the unfinished history of victimisation. "Israelis and Palestinians have very different needs for historians," says Elias Khoury. "The history of Israel describes the foundation of a state which now exists while the Palestinians have to write the history of an expulsion which remains unresolved." Palestinian "new historians" cannot therefore retreat to the purely academic world of facts and objectivity and ignore the pressing questions of how their writing relates to the miserable present.

    * It seems, Palestine's "New historians" have up to now only hinted at the mistakes made by their predecessors, who tended to be less interested in conscientiously searching for historical data than presenting radical analyses of the Palestinian plight along the lines of "histoire engagée".

    (By R. Leenders and B. Simpfendorfer - Middle East International - 5 June 1998)

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  • The search for Palestine's "new history"
  • Excerpts:

    * Rewriting the history of the victor is in some respects easier than coming to terms with the unfinished history of victimisation. "Israelis and Palestinians have very different needs for historians," says Elias Khoury. "The history of Israel describes the foundation of a state which now exists while the Palestinians have to write the history of an expulsion which remains unresolved." Palestinian "new historians" cannot therefore retreat to the purely academic world of facts and objectivity and ignore the pressing questions of how their writing relates to the miserable present. * It seems, Palestine's "New historians" have up to now only hinted at the mistakes made by their predecessors, who tended to be less interested in conscientiously searching for historical data than presenting radical analyses of the Palestinian plight along the lines of "histoire engagée".

    (By R. Leenders and B. Simpfendorfer - Middle East International - 5 June 1998)

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  • Jewish Shoah lawsuits
  • Excerpts:

    * The weekly newspaper "The Forward" reported that Edgar Bronfman, president of the World Jewish Congress, said the banks will agree to a settlement of $3 billion (for the Jewish victims of Shoah). The banks face three class-action lawsuits on charges of hoarding Jewish assets that had been deposited in Switzerland for safe-keeping during the war. They face demands from the WJC and the World Jewish Restitution Organization for "moral and material restitution."

    * To qualify, survivors will have to prove that they spent at least six months in a concentration camp or 18 months in a ghetto or in hiding. It is not yet known how many would qualify.

    (By Marilyn Henry - The Jerusalem Post - 7 June 1998)

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  • The ethnic cleansers
  • Excerpts:

    * Albanians are being murdered, their villages destroyed, and a trickle of new Balkan refugees is turning to a flood.

    (The Jerusalem Post - 7 June 1998)

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