Thursday, July 27, 2006

Holyland Christian Ecumenical Foundation to hold conference in Washington DC Oct. 20-21, 2006

Opening Doors of Hope in Faith, Washington DC Conference
Holyland Christian Ecumenical Foundation

HCEF 8th International Conference
October 20, 21, 2006

We’d love to have your support for the HCEF 8th International Conference! You can do that by:1. placing an Ad or a greeting message in the Conference program book.

To place an ad, please click on the following link:

Or by donating an item for the HCEF Silent Auction which will take place on Friday October 20, 2006 at the HCEF Awards Banquet.

Click on the following link to donate an item:

or by registering to attend the Conference to register online please click on the following link:

You could also volunteer to help, if you are interested, please download the form and mail it:

Please indicate your preferred volunteer opportunity.

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Friday, July 21, 2006

NCC joins call for US brokered cease-fire in Mideast

NCC joins call for US brokered cease-fire in Mideast

Washington, DC, July 21, 2006--The National Council of Churches USA and its partner humanitarian ministry, Church World Service, are among 16 religious organizations calling for President Bush to "work with other world leaders to secure an immediate cease-fire in the violent conflict raging now between Hezbollah and Israel."

The urgency of the request was expressed in a letter from Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), an ecumenical group of Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox churches and religious organizations in the United States. The Rev. Bob Edgar, general secretary of the NCC, and the Rev. John McCullough, executive director of CWS, signed on to today's letter.

"Your presidential leadership and the full weight of the United States, acting in concert with the international community, must be applied now to achieve an immediate cease-fire and to launch an intensive diplomatic initiative for the cessation of hostilities," wrote the religious leaders.

Recent news reports indicated a possible reluctance on the part of the president to call for a cease-fire. The CMEP letter comes as the Middle East Council of Churches reports nearly 750 killed, 1,200 injured and 650,000 people displace in Lebanon. Writing from Beirut, Guirgis I. Saleh, general secretary of the MECC, said, "Heavy shelling has targeted residential buildings and innocent civilians, in addition to the destruction of factories (milk) and farms."

The MECC has condemned Israel's incursion into Lebanon. It has also reactivated its emergency relief agency to assist the innocent victims of this latest Mideast violence.Complete text of the letter and its signatories and the MECC report follows:

July 21, 2006
The Honorable George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Bush:We urge you to work with other world leaders to secure an immediate cease-fire in the violent conflict raging now between Hezbollah and Israel.We are deeply concerned for the innocent victims of the attacks and reprisals between non-state parties in Lebanon and the government of Israel. This violent conflict has created a grave humanitarian crisis, and no hoped-for benefit should outweigh the cause of saving innocent lives.If this conflict continues, the current humanitarian crisis could escalate toward a catastrophe. Already in the first days of attacks and reprisals, reports say that 34 Israelis have been killed, including 15 civilians, others injured, and thousands have been made to leave their homes, and, in Lebanon, at least 335 people, most of them civilians, are reported killed and hundreds of thousands have been displaced or sought refuge in other countries.In the face of such a humanitarian crisis, calls for the fighting parties to be restrained in their actions fall short of what is needed. Your presidential leadership and the full weight of the United States, acting in concert with the international community, must be applied now to achieve an immediate cease-fire and to launch an intensive diplomatic initiative for the cessation of hostilities. This is a necessary first step toward the diplomatic resolution of this crisis and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the way toward a comprehensive Middle East peace.

Leaders of churches and churches-related organizations of Churches for Middle East Peace
Dr. Robb Davis Executive Director, Mennonite Central Committee
Marie Dennis Director, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Rev. Robert EdgarGeneral Secretary, National Council of Churches USA
Rev. Wesley Granberg-MichaelsonGeneral Secretary, Reformed Church in America
The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold Presiding Bishop, The Episcopal Church
The Rev. Mark S. HansonPresiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Rev. Dr. Stan HasteyExecutive Director, Alliance of Baptists
Very Rev. Dominic Izzo, OPPresident, Roman Catholic Conference of Major Superiors of Men's Institutes
Rev. Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Church, (USA)
Rev. John L. McCullough Executive Director & CEO, Church World Service
Metropolitan PHILIP Saliba Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of North America, Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America
Rev. William G. Sinkford President, Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
Rev. John H. Thomas General Minister and President, United Church of Christ
Joe Volk Executive Secretary, Friends Committee on National Legislation
The Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
James W. Winkler General Secretary, General Board of Church and Society, United Methodist Church

Text of the July 21 report of the Middle East Council of Churches

During the past 24 hours, the Israeli military operations have grown in intensity, with the use of internationally banned arms, particularly in the South of Lebanon, the southern suburbs of Beirut, the Beqa'. Heavy shelling has targeted residential buildings and innocent civilians, in addition to the destruction of factories (milk) and farms. The Israeli army has tried to advance into Lebanese territory, facing strong resistance by Hizbollah fighters.Since our last update of July 19, the death toll has reached around 750 (including those still buried under the rubbles) and the number of the injured has gone up to 1,200. 650,000 persons are now reported to have been displaced. Entire villages are burnt and destroyed, hundreds of families have been torn apart and basic infrastructure (buildings, bridges, highways, electric power stations, gas stations to every port on the Lebanese coast, the International airport as well as small military airports) severely damaged.Despite the many centers opened for the population in the different sectors of Beirut and regions of Lebanon where the displaced have taken refuge, hundreds have settled in public gardens and parks where tents have been installed.The blockade has lead to the decreasing availability of fuel, butane gas and fuel oil, as well as food and medicines. As a result, prices have gone up and fluctuate from one hour to the other.

MECC/ICNDR was able to start its response thanks to the rapid response and support provided by the Mennonite Central Committee in Lebanon. ICNDR's immediate action reached 260 displaced families in Mount Lebanon and Beirut, providing food supplies. This was implemented with the help of local partners and associations. Field trips carried by ICNDR staff and freelancers revealed the extent of the need for immediate intervention. Data concerning the displaced including numbers and their most urgent needs are available. Implementation will be possible with the availability of funds, particularly in the North, Beqaa, Beirut and Mount Lebanon. As for the South, the relief operations will be very difficult due to continuous shelling, air raids and complete destruction of roads. Two colleagues Ghaith Maalouf and Robert Nicolas and their families are safe and managed to flee the shelling targeting civilians in their villages. The church they had sought refuge in was damaged and 5 were injured.

Nevertheless, ICNDR local partners are ready to secure goods from the local markets and arrange for their distribution in coordination with the Lebanese army and Red Cross.

In Beshwet, the ICNDR center for the mentally handicapped opened its doors to 75 displaced persons mostly women and children and is relying on friends and neighbors as the only source of support to secure food on a daily basis.It should be noted that the Lebanese population living in the proximity of centers for the displaced is expressing solidarity and providing support to the displaced families, offering hot meals, clothes, blankets, sheets and other basic items.In Beirut, ICNDR staff are deploying efforts and working with the municipality to secure water to one of the referral centers, a public garden, where 100 families are settled and where no facilities or access to water are available. Food items were offered yesterday morning to these families In the North, the expressed priorities include mattresses, sheets, diapers, infant formula and medication for chronic diseases in the areas of Tripoli, Akkar and Batroun.

The evacuation of non-nationals continues by sea to Cyprus or by land via Syria.*Photos of Wounded Lebanon are posted on the MECC Web site at: www.mec-churches.orgGuirgis I.

SalehGeneral Secretary, Middle East Council of Churches

Latest NCC News at councilofchurches.orgNCC News contact: Dan Webster, 212.870.2252,

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Christian leaders unite to call for immediate MidEast ceasfire and end to violence

Christian leaders world wide united in calls for end to Mideast violence

New York City, July 20, 2006--Christian leaders representing millions of Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and Roman Catholic faithful are joining the National Council of Churches USA in calling for an end to the violence in Lebanon and Israel. Church leaders, many of whom have personal relationships with Middle East church officials, are also offering continuing prayers for those caught up in the spiraling violence.

"The escalating violence and regional dimension of the conflict is alarming," said Churches for Middle East Peace in a letter today to President Bush. "It is urgent that you call on all the parties to restrain from using force and, rather, to trust a diplomatic process." CMEP's letter referred to a July 7 statement from Patriarchs and heads of local Christian Churches in Jerusalem.

"The violence and aggression of this present moment is without proportion or justification," wrote the Orthodox, Protestant, Catholic and Anglican leaders nearly two weeks ago. "It is against law and reason to keep going in the way of death. The moral imperative is clear. Stop all the violence. Stop the killing. Protect the life and dignity of the people. Begin negotiations. Break this murderous chain of violence in which we are ensnared," wrote the Jerusalem church leaders.

"The Middle East Council of Churches," in a July 18 statement issued from Beirut, Lebanon, "calls upon the Churches worldwide to intervene firmly with their governments, urging them to exercise pressure for an immediate cease-fire in order to end this dangerous escalation of violence which threatens the whole region. It also calls on all to assist relief efforts by sending the necessary aid to the displaced families."

Pope Benedict XVI today called for "an immediate cease-fire" to allow humanitarian aid to get to the innocent victims of the violence.

"In reality, the Lebanese have the right to see the integrity and sovereignty of their country respected, the Israelis the right to live in peace in their State, and the Palestinians have the right to have their own free and sovereign homeland," the pope said in a release from the Vatican Information Service.

"At this sorrowful moment, His Holiness also makes an appeal to charitable organizations to help all the people struck by this pitiless conflict," his statement read.The Holy Father also "proclaimed this Sunday, July 23, as a special day of prayer and penance, inviting the pastors and faithful of all the particular Churches, and all believers of the world, to implore from God the precious gift of peace."

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, in a letter yesterday to the leaders of Christian churches in the Mideast said, "My condemnation of this resort to violence is unequivocal. I offer you every support in your efforts to bring it to an end and allow Lebanon to be, once again, a living message of co-existence and solidarity between different religious communities."

The National Council of Churches USA and its partner relief agency, Church World Service, last Friday (July 14) called for an immediate end to the current violence. And they called for humanitarian aid to the innocent victims in Lebanon, Israel and Gaza. The NCC also voiced its support of the recent G8 leaders' statement on the Middle East violence."These extremist elements and those that support them cannot be allowed to plunge the Middle East into chaos and provoke a wider conflict," said the leaders of eight of the world's most powerful nations.

"The extremists must immediately halt their attacks."Last Sunday's statement was welcomed by Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, NCC's associate general secretary for international affairs and peace."We were glad to see that the G8 leaders...calling on all parties to stop the fighting, including Israel as well as Hezbollah and Hamas, and to see that their actions not lead to further destabilization of the region," Kireopoulos said on Monday echoing the sentiments of Christians in the region. Other religious leaders in the United States this week expressed continuing concern as the violence seemed to wage on unchecked.

"The escalation of the conflict moves the Middle East further away from a just and lasting peace for which we have been praying and working," wrote Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson in a July 17 pastoral letter to his Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. "I continue to call on the international community and the U.S. administration to do everything possible both to negotiate an immediate stop to the violence that has caused the killing and suffering of innocent people and to urge all parties to resolve the conflict through dialogue."

The Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America was holding its annual summer conference in Atlanta when the recent hostilities broke out. A caucus of their membership on July 14 said, "Although we condemn the actions of Hezbollah, the principle of proportionality has been violated by Israel in its attacks upon Lebanon, which constitute the heaviest bombing of that country in 24 years, since Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982. The targeting of a civilian population is not in keeping with the values of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam, and must not be accepted. It is not defensive behavior, but is an offense against the high principles of all of these religions."

"We join others who deplore the escalating violence in Israel, Gaza and Lebanon," Houston, Texas Methodist Bishop Janice Riggle Huie told the United Methodist News Service, "and urge parties to mediate the conflict and end the mounting casualties among the innocent." The President of the United Methodist Council of Bishops said, "We also join those who urge President Bush to use the strength and authority of his office, with the support of other leaders, to bring the parties together for mediation."

"The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has long been committed to working for a just peace in the region. Over the last fifty-six years we have consistently expressed our concern for peace between Israel, the Palestinian people, and the Arab states," wrote Clifton Kirkpatrick, stated clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), in a letter to President Bush.

"The people of the Middle East, the birthplace of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, are groaning under the burden of war and desperately desire peace," Kirkpatrick wrote July 14. "We implore you to not allow the extremists of the region to dictate the reality and final outcome of this situation. What is needed now is a sane and diplomatic voice, which the United States can provide. Please use all diplomatic means available to you to restrain the violence and calm the situation--for the sake of Israel, the United States, and all the peoples of the Holy Land and the wider region."

A litany was offered yesterday by John H. Thomas, general minister and president, United Church of Christ, entitled, "A Prayer for the Middle East at a Time of War." It concludes: "While leaders in Tel Aviv and Damascus, Tehran, Washington, and southern Lebanon pander to ancient fears, claim the mantle of righteous victim, and pursue their little empires in the name of gods of their own devising, the people of Lebanon and northern Israel are made captive to fear, true victims whose only advocate is You. Save us from self-justifying histories and from moral equations that excuse our folly. Search our hearts for our own complicity. Spare us from pious prayers that neglect the prophet's angry cry. Let us speak a resounding 'no' to this warring madness and thus unmake our ways of death, so that we may be made more and more into your image."

Compete statements of these and other religious leaders are linked from the National Council of Churches USA website at News contact: Dan Webster, 212.870.2252

Chicago Muslim announces candidacy for City Council

Salman Aftab anounces for Chicago City Council

You are Cordially invited to a Fundraiser for:*** Salman Aftab ***
Tuesday August 8th, 2006 at 5:30 pm
Holiday Inn, 5300 W. Touhy Ave; Skokie, Il 60077 (2 Blocks west of I-94)

Tel 847-679-8900

Confirmed Speakers:
Dr. Don Wagner Dr. Don Wagner Director Middle East Studies North Park University Chicago
Sheikh Fisal Hamouda Imam Naperville Mosque
REV. Gregory Livingston Pastor Mandell United Methodist Church
Mr. Dinesh Gandhi CEO National Republic Bank Chicago
Dr. Wasiullah Khan Chancellor East west University Chicago
Ambassador Husain Haqqani, Director International Relations at Boston University. (He was a Visiting Scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC, and Professor at Johns Hopkins University).

Emcee: Sanaa Hussein Esq.
Donation: $50 minimum
Asif Vadaria 773-728-1500

Naim Mansour 630-664-9588

Mike Elliott 773-271-9800

Hors d’oeuvres will be served

Sponsor: Rana Shiraz
Please make checks payable to:
Salman Aftab Campaign Fund
2600 West Peterson Ave, Suit 100
Chicago, IL 60659
(312) 493-4822

Authorized and paid for by Salman Aftab Campaign Fund

Amnesty International Urges end to Hostage-taking and wanton destruction in Palestine and Lebanon


Public Statement

AI Index: MDE 15/058/2006 (Public)

News Service No: 166 28 June 2006
Israel/Occupied Territories: Hostage-taking and wanton destruction must cease
As confirmation was received of the abduction by Palestinian armed groups of a second Israeli, Amnesty International reiterated its call on the armed groups who are holding Israeli hostages not to harm them and to promptly release them.

The organization also called on Israel to put an end to the wanton destruction and collective punishment being carried out by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip.The Nasser Salah al-Din Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committee (PRC), today confirmed holding 18-year-old Eliyahu Asheri, a resident of the Israeli settlement of Itamar in the occupied West Bank, whom they reportedly abducted on 25 June. The group threatened to kill Asheri if Israeli forces do not end their incursion into the Gaza Strip.

The same armed group has also claimed responsibility jointly with Hamas’ armed wing, Iz al-Din al-Qassam, and the Army of Islam, a little known group believed to be a breakaway faction of the PRC, for the abduction of an Israeli soldier, 19-year-old Corporal Gilad Shalit, on 25 June. The three armed groups are demanding the release of Palestinian women and children detained in Israeli jails in exchange for information about Corporal Shalit.

The holding of hostages, either civilians or armed forces’ members, violates the fundamental rights to life, physical and mental integrity and liberty, and is expressly prohibited by international law, which prohibits threatening to harm or to continue holding a detained person in order to compel a third party to do or abstain from doing something as a condition for their release.Amnesty International calls on the Palestinian armed groups who are holding these two Israeli hostages to abide by their international legal obligation to respect the principles of international humanitarian law, notably Article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, which reflects customary international law, and which prohibits the taking of hostages, murder and cruel treatment and torture.

The organization urges the Palestinian armed groups holding these two hostages to release them, to treat them humanely and not to subject them to threats or cruel treatment or torture, and to cease taking and holding hostages.The Hamas-led Palestinian Authority (PA), PA President Mahmoud Abbas, the political leadership of Hamas and any other parties who exercise command or influence over the armed groups holding these two hostages should make all possible efforts to secure their prompt release and to ensure that their fundamental rights to life, physical and mental integrity and liberty are respected. Amnesty International is also increasingly concerned by the excessive use of force and wanton destruction of civilian property and infrastructure by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip.

Since 27 June, when Israel began Operation Summer Rain, which it says is aimed at releasing Gilad Shalit, the Israeli army has deployed large numbers of troops in the South of the Gaza Strip and carried out large-scale wanton destruction. This includes the bombardment and destruction of three bridges and electricity networks across the Gaza Strip. These measures have left half the population of Gaza without electricity and have reportedly also adversely affected the supply of water.

In recent days the Israeli authorities have also closed the Rafah crossing into Egypt, the only point of entry/exit for the 1.5 million of Palestinians who live in the Gaza Strip. Several hundred Palestinians who were returning from abroad have been stranded on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing for up to a week and are prevented from returning to their homes. Those wishing to leave the Gaza Strip are likewise prevented from leaving. The wanton destruction of civilian infrastructure and property and the disproportionate restrictions imposed on civilians by Israeli forces amount to collective punishment on the entire population of the Gaza Strip, a violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits punishing protected persons for offences they have not committed.

Amnesty International reiterates its call on the Israeli authorities and army to put an end to the excessive and disproportionate use of force against densely populated residential areas and infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, including frequent artillery shelling and air strikes which endanger the lives of Palestinian residents. Since the beginning of this year Israeli forces have killed some 150 Palestinians, including some 25 children, and Palestinian armed groups have killed close to 20 Israelis, including two children.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Ohio Congressman Boehner proposes resolution endorsing murder of civilians in Lebanon


(Washington, DC - 7/19/06) -- The Muslim Public Affairs Council calls on all people of conscience to contact their local representatives and urge them to vote against resolution House Resolution 921, which calls for the House of Representatives to "reaffirm its steadfast support for the state of Israel" and "supports Israel's right to take appropriate action to defend itself, including to conduct operations both in Israel and in the territory of nations which pose a threat to it."

The resolution, introduced by Congressman John Boehner (R-Ohio) yesterday, is a one-sided distortion of recent events that commends "Israel's longstanding commitment to minimizing civilian loss". H. Res. 921 makes no mention of the more than 200 Lebanese killed or the devastation wrought against a country destroyed again after so many years rebuilding from its civil war. Nor does it mention the 85 Palestinians killed in Gaza in recent weeks or the crippled Palestinian Authority which is struggling to rebound yet again (See below for full text of resolution).

As American Muslims, it is our civic duty to reach out to our respective representatives to express the need for Congress and the administration to demonstrate an even-handed approach to the crisis, and to demand an immediate and unconditional ceasefire and condemn the continued Israeli aggression against the Palestinian and Lebanese people.
"We must make our voices heard in order to do all that we can to bring an end to this merciless round of violence, and to restore the sanctity of all civilian life," said MPAC Executive Director Salam Al-Marayati. "Silence at this time is detrimental to our nation's interests."

1. Click here to find the name, phone number and email address of your members of Congress.

2. Write a letter, make a phone call or send a fax to your elected official using the following talking points and URGE them to oppose H. Res. 921:

It is in America's best interest to demand an immediate, unconditional ceasefire to halt the violence and demonstrate its commitment to acting as a fair and honest broker for peace in the region. Congress should call on President Bush to immediately appoint and dispatch a Middle East envoy with the full authority of the President to lead US diplomatic efforts. Media reports indicate that the Administration will wait another week to allow Israel to accomplish its mission before getting involved. Violence is intensifying and the opportunity to reduce the loss of civilian life is in the hands of the U.S.

In an attempt to weaken Hezbollah, Israel is subjecting the Palestinian and Lebanese people to collective punishment. It is a violation of international law to subject Palestinians and Lebanese to collective punishment as a result of Hezbollah and Hamas' actions.

A massive humanitarian crisis is developing in Lebanon and in the Gaza Strip. Nearly 500,000 Lebanese have been displaced from their homes, major roads and power plants have been destroyed, and more than 440 injured civilians have no access to medical treatment. The United States has a long and well-regarded record of humanitarian assistance and Congress must work with the Administration to maintain US support for Palestinian and Lebanese civil society. Humanitarian and economic relief are desperately needed in order to foster any hope that a diplomatic resolution to the conflict is possible.

Starving the Lebanese and Palestinians will not increase Israel's security. Remaining positively engaged with the region is in the national security interest of the United States. America's involvement in the on-going conflict is a main factor in determining our image throughout the Arab and Muslim world. The establishment of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, is in the best interest of our country as well as Palestinians and Israelis.

[CONTACT: Edina Lekovic, 213-383-3443,]

9th CONGRESS 2d Session H. RES. 921
Condemning the recent attacks against the State of Israel, holding terrorists and their state-sponsors accountable for such attacks, supporting Israel's right to defend itself, and for other purposes.

Mr. JOHN BOEHNER (for himself, Mr. HENRY HYDE, and Mr. TOM LANTOS) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on International Relations


Condemning the recent attacks against the State of Israel, holding terrorists and their state-sponsors accountable for such attacks, supporting Israel's right to defend itself, and for other purposes.

Whereas on September 12, 2005, Israel completed its unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, demonstrating its willingness to make sacrifices for the sake of peace;

Whereas more than 1,000 rockets have been launched from Gaza into Israel since Israel's disengagement;

Whereas in a completely unprovoked attack that occurred in undisputed Israeli territory on June 25, 2006, Israeli Defense Forces Corporal Gilad Shalit was kidnapped and is being held hostage in Gaza by a Palestinian terrorist group which includes members of Hamas; Whereas Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal, in Damascus, Syria, has acknowledged the role of Hamas in holding Corporal Shalit hostage;

Whereas in a completely unprovoked attack that occurred in undisputed Israeli territory on July 12, 2006, operatives of the terrorist group Hezbollah operating out of southern Lebanon killed three Israeli soldiers and took two others hostage;

Whereas Israel fully complied with United Nations Security Council Resolution 425 (1978) by completely withdrawing its forces from Lebanon, as certified by the United Nations Security Council and affirmed by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on June 16, 2000, when he said, 'Israel has withdrawn from [Lebanon] in full compliance with Security Council Resolution 425.';

Whereas United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559 (2004) calls for the complete withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon and the dismantlement of all independent militias in Lebanon;

Whereas despite the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559, the Government of Lebanon has failed to disband and disarm Hezbollah, allowing Hezbollah instead to amass 13,000 rockets, including rockets that are more destructive, longer-range and more accurate than rockets previously used by Hezbollah, and has integrated Hezbollah into the Lebanese Government;

Whereas the Government of Israel has previously shown great restraint despite the fact that Hezbollah has launched at least four separate attacks into Israel using rockets and ground forces over the past year;

Whereas the failure of the Government of Lebanon to implement all aspects of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559 and to extend its authority throughout its territory has enabled Hezbollah to launch armed attacks against Israel and recently to kidnap Israeli soldiers;
Whereas Hezbollah's strength derives significantly from the direct financial, military, and political support it receives from Syria and Iran, and Hezbollah also receives important support from sources within Lebanon;

Whereas Iranian Revolutionary Guards continue to operate in southern Lebanon, providing support to Hezbollah and reportedly controlling its operational activities;

Whereas the Government of the United States has enacted several laws, including the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003 (Public Law 108-175) and the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-172), which call for the imposition of sanctions on Syria and Iran for, among other things, their support for terrorism and terrorist organizations;

Whereas the House of Representatives has repeatedly called for full implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559;

Whereas section 1224 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2003 (Public Law 107-228) withholds certain assistance to Lebanon contingent on the deployment of the Lebanese armed forces to the internationally recognized border between Lebanon and Israel and its effective assertion of authority in the border area in order, among other reasons, to prevent cross-border infiltration by terrorists, precisely the criminal activity that has provoked the current crisis;

Whereas President George W. Bush stated on July 12, 2006, `Hezbollah's terrorist operations threaten Lebanon's security and are an affront to the sovereignty of the Lebanese Government. Hezbollah's actions are not in the interest of the Lebanese people, whose welfare should not be held hostage to the interests of the Syrian and Iranian regimes.', and has repeatedly affirmed that Syria and Iran must be held to account for their shared responsibility in the recent attacks;

Whereas the United States recognizes that some members of the democratically-elected Lebanese parliament are working to build an autonomous and sovereign Lebanon and supports their efforts; and

Whereas both Hezbollah and Hamas refuse to recognize Israel's right to exist and call for the destruction of Israel: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
(1) reaffirms its steadfast support for the State of Israel;(2) condemns Hamas and Hezbollah for engaging in unprovoked and reprehensible armed attacks against Israel on undisputed Israeli territory, for taking hostages, for killing Israeli soldiers, and for continuing to indiscriminately target Israeli civilian populations with their rockets and missiles;(3) further condemns Hamas and Hezbollah for cynically exploiting civilian populations as shields, locating their equipment and bases of operation, including their rockets and other armaments, amidst civilian populations, including in homes and mosques;(4) recognizes Israel's longstanding commitment to minimizing civilian loss and welcomes Israel's continued efforts to prevent civilian casualties;(5) demands the Governments of Iran and Syria to direct Hamas and Hezbollah to immediately and unconditionally release Israeli soldiers which they hold captive;(6) affirms that all governments that have provided continued support to Hamas or Hezbollah share responsibility for the hostage-taking and attacks against Israel and, as such, should be held accountable for their actions;(7) condemns the Governments of Iran and Syria for their continued support for Hezbollah and Hamas in their armed attacks against Israelis and their other terrorist activities;(8) supports Israel's right to take appropriate action to defend itself, including to conduct operations both in Israel and in the territory of nations which pose a threat to it, which is in accordance with international law, including Article 51 of the United Nations Charter;(9) commends the President of the United States for fully supporting Israel as it responds to these armed attacks by terrorist organizations and their state sponsors;(10) urges the President of the United States to bring the full force of political, diplomatic, and economic sanctions available to the Government of the United States against the Governments of Syria and Iran;(11) demands the Government of Lebanon to do everything in its power to find and free the kidnapped Israeli soldiers being held in the territory of Lebanon;(12) calls on the United Nations Security Council to condemn these unprovoked acts and to take action to ensure full and immediate implementation of United Nations Security Council 1559 (2004), which requires Hezbollah to be dismantled and the departure of all Syrian personnel and Iranian Revolutionary Guards from Lebanon;(13) expresses its condolences to all families of innocent victims of recent violence; and(14) declares its continued commitment to working with Israel and other United States allies in combating terrorism worldwide.


Chicago Lebanese Community issue release, call for end of violence

On Behaldf of Leb.Org

Lebanon is under siege: Regardless of what your political beliefs are, Lebanon is being destroyed at the time you read this. And there is one thing you can do to help cease the fire: you can make your voice heard against the disaster that's being forced upon us.

Scream your indignation and call for a cease-fire and for the support of the Lebanese government position.

At a horrible time like this, we need to stand together and react. Only by showing how united we are, will we be able to achieve massive sensibilization and help Lebanese children have a future.

Take a minute to read the note below: it's a summary of the main points of the lebanese government legitimate sensible call for a cease-fire. Print it out and send it by post, by fax, by email to western embassies, to international newspapers, to international TV stations, to the UN headquarters and missions around the world.

Calling for a cease-fire
July 18th, 2006

Israel is destroying Lebanon. It has no right to do so.

Children, women, innocent civilians are being killed by the Israeli attacks. Entire families are being chased out of their home villages. Bridges, roads, airports, ports, highways, energy plants and communication networks are being pounded to the ground. The whole country has been cut off from the rest of the world.

We, Lebanese people, are sad, we are suffering, we are angry, we are determined and mobilized to work together towards saving our nation.

Israel's initiative is an unfair disproportionate collective punishment inflicted upon Lebanon for the wrong reasons: what is happening today goes beyond the issue of a prisoners exchange.

Neither the government nor the innocent people of Lebanon had been informed or agreed on the kidnapping of the two Israeli soldiers.

Lebanon is in despair: it's a humanitarian and economic disaster.
We call for an immediate cease-fire under the auspices of the UN,

We call for the establishment of the government's sovereignty on all Lebanese territory in cooperation with the UN,

We call for your help to pressure Israel to stop its attacks.
Help us achieve it as soon as possible.
So that Lebanon will survive. Lebanon will survive.

Friday, July 14, 2006

AAI urges Americans to register in Lebanon

The Arab American Institute remains in constant contact with the State Department as they work to formulate a plan to evacuate US citizens from Lebanon. We will continue to update you as we receive information. In the meantime, the State Department requests that all US citizens in Lebanon REGISTER IMMEDIATELY at

so that you can be informed as soon as an evacuation plan is in place.

Further updates are available at or 888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444.
AAI is forwarding all information we receive on American in Lebanon to the appropraite officials at the State Department as well as Congress. Please keep sending your stories to Please send us pictures so that we can give a human face to our community.

The Department of State has issued a Travel Warning for Lebanon, which is pasted below and is available at The U.S. Embassy in Beruit’s web site is located at

Travel WarningUnited States Department of StateBureau of Consular AffairsWashington, DC 20520

This information is current as of today, Fri Jul 14 08:53:26 2006.

July 13, 2006
This Travel Warning is being updated to alert American citizens that, due to ongoing security concerns in Lebanon, the U.S. Embassy has been granted authorized departure status. Family members and non-emergency American employees have permission to depart Lebanon. American citizens are urged to evaluate their personal security posture and consider departing in light of the current situation in Lebanon. The Department of State urges American citizens to defer travel to Lebanon. This supersedes the Travel Warning issued on May 2, 2006.

The Department of State is concerned for the personal safety of American citizens due to the current security situation in Lebanon. In light of the events of July 12 in Southern Lebanon and the resulting escalation in tensions in Lebanon, including the closure of Beirut International Airport and the Port of Beirut, American citizens are urged to avoid non-essential travel in Lebanon. There remains the possibility of anti-U.S. demonstrations and American citizens are reminded that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. American citizens should avoid any areas where demonstrations are possible and exercise caution if within the vicinity of any demonstrations.

U.S. citizens in Lebanon are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Beirut where they may also obtain updated information on travel and security in Lebanon. See registration details below.

Events in Lebanon underscore the need for caution and sound personal security precautions. Since March 2005, there have been 13 separate bombings in Lebanon, resulting in the deaths of at least 11 people and injuries to more than 100 others. American citizens should keep a low profile, varying times and routes for all required travel. Americans should also pay close attention to their personal security at locations where Westerners are generally known to congregate, and should avoid demonstrations and large gatherings.

U.S. citizens who are in Lebanon despite this Travel Warning should exercise heightened caution when traveling in parts of the southern suburbs of Beirut, portions of the Bekaa Valley and South Lebanon, and the cities of Sidon and Tripoli. Hizballah has not been disarmed, it maintains a strong presence in many of these areas, and there is the potential for action by other extremist groups in Tripoli.

Palestinian groups hostile to both the Lebanese government and the U.S. operate largely autonomously inside refugee camps in different areas of the country. Intra-communal violence within the camps has resulted in violent incidents such as shootings and explosions.

Occasionally this violence spills over into neighboring cities and towns. Dangers posed by landmines and unexploded ordnance throughout south Lebanon are significant and also exist in other areas where civil war fighting was intense. Travelers should be aware of posted landmine warnings and strictly avoid all areas where landmines and unexploded ordnance may be present.The Embassy is located in Awkar, near Antelias, Beirut, Lebanon. Public access hours for American citizens are Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

However, American citizens who require emergency services outside of these hours may contact the Embassy by telephone at any time. The telephone numbers are (961-4) 542-600, 543-600, and fax 544-209. American citizens may register with the Embassy online by visiting

Information on consular services and registration can also be found at

or by phone at the above telephone numbers between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday local time.Updated information on travel and security in Lebanon may be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 within the United States or, from overseas, 1-202-501-4444. Additional details can be found in the Department of State's

Consular Information Sheet for Lebanon

the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement

the Middle East and North Africa Public Announcement

and the Travel Publication

A Safe Trip Abroad,

all of which are available on the Department's Internet site at

EU Provides emergency assistance to besieged Palestinians

EU Provides Euro 50 Million Emergency Humanitarian Aid for Palestinians

WASHINGTON, July 14 /PRNewswire/ -- In response to the worsening situation in the Palestinian Territories, the European Commission has announced plans to provide a further euro 50 million in humanitarian aid to allow for a more forceful and comprehensive response to the growing needs of the Palestinians. Areas to be covered include food delivery, healthcare, water/sanitation and Red Cross protection activities. The new funds are being channelled through the Commission's Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO), under the responsibility of Louis Michel, Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid.

Louis Michel said: "I strongly condemn the escalating violence in the region and deplore the ever-worsening humanitarian situation of people living in Gaza and the West Bank. Once again, civilians are paying the price of conflict. They are the main casualties of the Israeli blockades and incursions in Gaza, and now in Lebanon. Movement restrictions are also making it very difficult for humanitarian operators to help the people that most need it. I strongly urge both Israeli and Palestinian authorities to facilitate the work of the humanitarian agencies and ensure the protection of civilians."

The latest funding package will help to meet the vital needs of around 1.5 million people living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Activities to be undertaken by the Commission's humanitarian partners include:

-- Food distribution: Food will be distributed to an estimated 500,000 people until the end of this year by Commission humanitarian partners such as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and CARE.

-- Health: The UN's World Health Organisation (WHO), CARE, MERLIN are potential partners for the provision of basic health services.

-- Water and sanitation: NGOs such as CARE and OXFAM will ensure water supplies for the most vulnerable communities as soon as possible.

-- Protection: As the population is increasingly exposed to violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, the Commission will fund protection activities implemented by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).These funds are in addition to the euro 34 million announced last week from the Commission's regular humanitarian budget and the euro 105 million channelled through the Temporary International Mechanism for the direct delivery of basic needs assistance to the Palestinian people and a euro 120 million package of aid announced in February.

For further information, please visit: Delegation of the European Commission to the U.S.

CONTACT: Anthony Gooch, +1-202-862-9523, or Kasper Zeuthen,+1-202-862-9530, both of Delegation of the European Commission to the U.SWeb site:

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Statement of His Eminence and His Beatitude Nasrallah Peter Cardinal Sfeir

Statement of His Eminence and His Beatitude Nasrallah Peter Cardinal Sfeir

LAWRENCE, Mass., July 13 /PRNewswire/ -- The following is a statement of His Eminence and His Beatitude Nasrallah Peter Cardinal Sfeir, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East:

"I began my pastoral visit to the United States on June 29, the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. I have visited St. Louis, Chicago, and Detroit. After these two days in Lawrence, I will proceed to New York. I have met thousands of Maronites and friends from throughout the United States. The Lebanese and Maronite people are proud contributors to American society.

"I have come at the invitation of Maronite Bishops Robert Shaheen and Gregory Mansour who have undertaken the planning and details of this visit, which is made in honor of the forty years since the appointment of a Maronite Bishop in the United States. Much progress has been made in 40 years. We look forward to a brighter future.

"I am grateful for the solidarity that exists between the Catholics of Lebanon and the Middle East, and those of this country. I am also grateful for the solidarity expressed by the international community, and especially President Bush and the United States, towards Lebanon.

"I have come to strengthen the bridges between East and West, Christians and Muslims. I have come with the demand that Lebanon steer its own course, without the tutelage of any other nation. I have come to say that the Lebanese are determined to live far from terrorism, tyranny, corruption and despair.

"The Lebanese are proud people and have inherited the oldest democracy in the Middle East. They are well-educated, accustomed to hard work, and eager to work in harmony with the community of nations.

"In Lebanon we have difficult issues to resolve. We have been working at these issues in the National Dialogue, which still awaits a positive outcome. Syrian troops have left Lebanon, but their influence is still there. We therefore ask again that our two nations develop proper relations befitting of states, which means among other things, delineated boundaries, embassies, respect for international law, and friendly relations.

"The tragic events of recent days give us pause to pray and ask the Lord's help. I am very concerned and anxious. As we have said in the past and reassert again today, we are against all aggression wherever it comes from. We condemn Israel's recent retaliations against Lebanon's people and infrastructure. We also hope that Hezbollah will finally lay down its arms and join the other citizens of Lebanon in reaching political solutions to all of the Lebanese problems.

"We look forward to a united, sovereign, free, and truly independent Lebanon, where the Lebanese government exerts its sole authority over all of Lebanon's territory.

"We have known war first hand on our own soil. We have had enough. We need the help and support of all our friends in the world, especially the United States. We are determined to work together, through dialogue, for peace and justice in the region.

"I ask you to pray for Lebanon and help us to show in the news the true Lebanon, the Lebanon that longs to reclaim its former glory. As Pope John Paul II says, 'Lebanon is more than a country, it is a message of fraternity for the entire world.'

"Thank you for coming today."

SOURCE St. Anthony's Maronite Catholic Church


/CONTACT: Paul Schneider for St. Anthony's Maronite Catholic Church, +1-215-817-4384 (Mobile)/

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

New Book on Arab Christians in Israel

Amazing Stories Give Hope to Situation in Israel

July 10/PRNewswire/ -- With rocket-strikes and hostage-taking once again bringing theMiddle East situation back into the headlines, many could be forgiven inthinking that the situation is beyond resolution. But author Julia Fisher has offered hope for the future of the region, bytelling some amazing stories of reconciliation and forgiveness. A Future For Israel (ISBN: 1-86024-531-5, price: GBP6.99) is published by Authentic Media,and contains eight inspiring stories of Christian Arabs.

Many live in Israeland have suffered at the hands of Jews, but rather than this leading to hate,they have found the strength to forgive and show love to their Jewishneighbours. In one of the stories, Fisher introduces readers to George Kazoura, anArab pastor, who fled his home in the city of Haifa in Israel with his familyduring the War of Independence in 1948. When he returned a month later, hefound to his horror, that a Jewish family had moved into his home and hadburnt all his household's belongings. Homeless and bitter, Kazoura wanted thedestruction of the Jewish people.

He dabbled in communism and atheism and in 1961, he attended a Christianrevival meeting in Nazareth with intention to disrupt it. However, Kazourafound it deeply moving and after much deliberation became a Christian. Hereturned to his old house and stood outside and felt at peace with the Jewishpeople who had lived there since he had been made homeless. In 1990, Kazouraopened an orphanage, the House of Love and Peace in the village of Rama. Mostof the children are Muslims who previously had been taught to kill, yet atthe orphanage, they learn to love their Jewish neighbours.

Julia Fisher is a writer and broadcaster and has visited Israel on over 30 occasions, often leading group trips. She says of the book: "Having visited the Holy Land so frequently, I've been introduced to many people. I have built strong relationships based on trust and respect. This book is the result and has obviously been written with their full agreement, because these Arab Christians want the West to know what is going on. These stories are rare, they are brave, and they represent a growing movement. There is something remarkable going on in the spiritual realm in the lives of everyday people that challenges ancient enmity and hatred."

Source: Authentic MediaFor a review copy of this book, please contact Paul Severn on: +44-1908-364214 or email

Caritas Jerusalem offers report on situation in Gaza

7 July 2006
The situation in the Gaza Strip
Report from Caritas Jerusalem
For Immediate Release
The situation in the Gaza Strip - Report from Caritas JerusalemIf you wish to really understand what is taking place in the Gaza Strip, please open your Bible and read the Lamentations of Jeremiah. This is what we are all living. People are CRYING, HUNGRY, THIRSTY and DESPERATE. – Fr. Manuel Musallam – Parish Priest- Latin Convent, Gaza

"There is no doubt that Israel has not taken the precautions required of it in international law to protect the civilian population and infrastructure [in Gaza]"– Swiss Foreign Min. Statement – 7/4/06

"A force of Israeli tanks and armoured vehicles has begun re-occupying an area of northern Gaza – Three Palestinians killed yesterday" - BBC Report – July 6 2006

(Jerusalem – July 6, 2006) – The current situation in the Gaza Strip is descending precipitously into a serious humanitarian disaster. Caritas Jerusalem operates a medical center in the Gaza Strip as well as a mobile medical clinic. Our medical center also engages in numerous local and regional health campaigns to help build the health capacity of families and children in Gaza through project activities conducted in schools and community based organizations. We also undertake social and educational assistance programs as well as programs and direct assistance for catastrophic medical care cases in Gaza.

Our program manager is in daily contact with our team in the Gaza Strip to follow up on the ongoing situation. Our medical center in Gaza is working full time and is presenting all services to the community without any charge at the moment.Our medical director, Dr. Bandaly, who is a native of Gaza, says that he has never seen Gaza in such a bad situation. Homes have no electricity or water. Luckily, the medical center has its own generator which they are using sparingly only for serious emergency situations and they have some stored water. The medical clinic is providing drinking water for the patients, the medical team and neighbors. Without this stored water, there is no other readily available clean water source for the medical clinic, except for bottled water. For our basic needs in the medical center, we are very well equipped. We have basic medicines, as we were just resupplied, thank God, prior to the beginning of this recent escalation.

Due to the main power station in Gaza being bombed, this has seriously disrupted electrical supplies in Gaza. With the electricity cut, ordinary people will not be able to get water pumped from wells and this is a very hot time of year in Gaza. Cutting the power will have serious and far reaching consequences especially for the sick, old, small children, and babies. With no power, they cannot store food easily. Now that the signs of military activities are pending, people are really afraid. Children are really terrified.

The main hospital in Gaza, Al Shifa, is operating on generator power, but they cannot keep this up for long. This is good, but sick people still need transportation, and with no diesel fuel or gasoline, there are no buses or taxis for transportation. The situation is really terrible and it is the innocent, the old, the sick and small children who are suffering the most. Our medical director also said that within two more days they estimate that they will be walking to and from work as there is apparently no more gasoline or diesel fuel in all Gaza for transportation. This is a serious situation.

Dr. Bandaly, concerned of an invasion into the Gaza Strip, is asking for urgent first aid kits that will be distributed around Gaza in case regular citizens are forced to address medical emergencies on their own. They want to position these resources around so, God forbid, if need be, people will be able to do something to help injured people because if a ground offensive takes place in Gaza, the whole region will be under curfew and the injured will have to be treated in their own home regions. Doctors and ambulances will not be able to reach them.

Our medical clinic is, thank God, fully operational. While they do not have regular power, they are still working full time and in full force. Thankfully, our staff are still coming to work as they are being paid their regular salaries unlike the Palestinian governmental sector who is without financial support for their governmental employees going on five months.Dr. Bandaly also pointed out that with the wage crisis in the Palestinian Authority, his clients have no money to pay for anything.

"When the situation was better, we requested nominal co-payments for our services and for medicines that we provided. These co-payments were very minimal, but today people have no means to pay. We are providing our medical treatment free. We must continue to reach out in ministry to the sick. People really feel humiliated, tired, desperate, alone and forgotten."Food is a big problem. The people in Gaza like all other people need access to good quality balanced food to live healthy lives. Our medical director said: "In Gaza, we have lots of anemic women and malnourished children. He added: "There is no milk, meat, cheese, yogurt or anything that requires refrigeration. This is a terrible situation. We do not know what to do."

The food that is available also cannot just be eaten alone. To cook rice or hummus or to make bread, you need water and a means to cook the food. This was highlighted by the people at the World Food Programme who pointed out those basic foodstuffs like flour or hummus cannot be consumed without the ability to add water and cook them.

Note: We understand that food is presently available in Gaza if the people only have money to buy it. With the commitments to provide cash, we can get food to hungry people right away. We can handle the administrative details of bank transfers and other details to ensure accountability, but with solid commitments, we can direct the assistance to needy people right now through our Caritas team in Gaza.

Caritas Jerusalem also operates a mobile medical clinic in Gaza. This clinic targets a number of highly marginalized areas in the Amore, Imm Sadar, Magazi Bridge, Al Shati Camp and near Rafah in some villages and in Breij Camp. We are focusing on these locations, targeting two to three villages in each area. We are seeking to provide them with a minimum of medical coverage. These areas are very poor and the people living there are under very serious humanitarian situations of deficiency. While the Israelis have left Gaza and this has allowed for greater internal mobility, one must remember that transportation is not free. By bringing the medical care to them, we help them save money. We also offer medicine at heavily subsidized prices. For example, our mobile clinic will provide a prescription to a person for less than 1 Euro. Often people can afford either the medicine or the transportation, but not both. So bringing the medical care to them makes a huge difference. For those who cannot pay anything, we give it to them free.

For almost a week, our mobile medical clinic has stopped working because the areas where we have been targeting are near those which are currently the target of potential military activity. Due to the constant bombardments in Gaza, it is not safe to operate a vehicle like our mobile clinic. These areas are isolated areas which very few people go to. That is why we are targeting them because the need is so great. Our medical professionals in Gaza have told us "lets wait and see what happens for the next coupe of days before we start the mobile medical clinic back up again."

Fr. Manuel Musallam is the parish priest at the Latin Convent in Gaza. He relayed the following concerning the situation there.

"The people in Gaza are suffering unbelievably. They are hungry, thirsty, have no electricity, no clean water and they are suffering constant bombardments and sonic booms from low flying aircraft. They are suffering from hunger. They need food. Even if there is food for sale, people have no money to buy food. The price of food, of course, has doubled and tripled in the situation. They have no income, no opportunities to get food from outside and no opportunities to secure money inside Gaza. No work. No livelihood. No future. They have no hope and many very poor people are aimlessly wandering around trying to beg for something from others who also have nothing. It is heart breaking to see. We need food. We only need bread and water. Children and babies are hungry. Unfortunately, we are seeing sickness increase and to add insult to injury, people cannot afford to pay for transportation to hospital. This is not only hard suffering for now, but this fact will have long reverberations for the future. The sicknesses we have now will degrade the future generation. Children are afraid. They are going on one week with no electricity. No light at night. No oil or candles. Some can't even buy matches. These children are seeing the exodus of their entities.Children are suffering from the sonic booms. Many have been violently thrown from their beds at night. Many arms and legs are broken due to this fact. These planes fly low over Gaza and then reach the speed of sound. This shakes the ground and creates shock waves like an earthquake that can cause a person to be thrown from their bed. I myself weigh 120 kilos and was almost thrown from my bed due to the shock wave produced by a low flying airplane that made a sonic boom. It is terrifying. It is worse than a film. It is real. It is like someone picked up your house and shook it. We are now going into the seventh day without water. We cannot drink water from the ground here as it is salty and not hygienic. People can only buy water to drink. With no electricity to pump the water from wells, no fuel to boil, we are all thirsty. Thirsty children are crying, afraid and desperate. Of course, those who are sick in hospital are suffering an unimaginable horror. There is no electricity to operate life saving machines and the simplest of treatments is not able to be undertaken. These actions are war crimes. When I cry as a priest, I beg you; we do not need pity. We only need justice. If you don't give justice, there will be no peace. Peace is the farthest thing away from the mind of anyone, Christian or Moslem, in Gaza at this time.Every minute, a minimum of two bombardments hits Gaza from the sea, air or land. I have an employee who lives in Bet Hanoun. He told me he has not slept in one week. Gaza cannot sleep.I sent the Sisters of the Baby Jesus to Jabalia Camp to check on some poor families. They returned to me crying at the unspeakable horror they saw. The cries of hungry children, the sullen faces of broken men and women who are just sitting in their hungry emptiness with no light, hope or love. Christians must work to stop this silly war. I am against fanaticism and violence, but these actions guarantee an increase in support for Hamas. I demand that those outside of Gaza must care for us here in Gaza, Muslims and Christians. There are no differences here in religion. A hungry child is a hungry child. A sick person is a sick person. Our Lord demanded through St. John that you remember us in our affliction. We are now in a serious affliction. (End of the comments from Fr. Musallam)"

Caritas Jerusalem has issued an appeal for financial support for the project "Emergency Support for Palestine." This €1.16 million Euro appeal was just launched in May 2006 and contributions to the program are still being received at this time with initial commitments already received from Caritas Australia (€29,135), Caritas Belgium (€50,000), Caritas Canada (€56,543), Caritas Japan (€15,666) and Caritas Spain (€200,000). A significant portion of this project will be directed to assistance for the Gaza Strip region, which is suffering an acute crisis at this time. This program offers assistance for food provision, medical cases, education assistance, direct relief and assistance to create work for the jobless. We are coordinating our assistance in Gaza through our medical clinic, the parish priest and the Near East Council of Churches and other partners in the area.Caritas Jerusalem urges all parties to reject violence and make every effort to restore some sense of calm and orderliness that is needed to reenter negotiations for peace. Killing, aggression, hostage taking and efforts to harm a civilian population are wrong and must be condemned in the strongest terms with a view to end them immediately.

Please contact your religious leaders and or elected representatives and demand from them that the situation in Palestine not be allowed to spiral out of control and descend into a deeper abyss of despair, hopelessness and violence than already exists. The region of Gaza particularly needs to see an end to violence.

To send financial assistance, please contact us or transfer funds to:
Bank Name: Arab Bank
Swift Code: ARABPS22110
Account #: 457793/0/590 ----EURO
Account #: 457793/0/510 ----US $
Account #: 457793/0/570 ----NIS
Credit Account: Caritas Jerusalem
Branch No.: 9110

At Arab Bank in Al-RamP.O. Box 2445, Al-Ram Jerusalem
Contact: Caritas Jerusalem
Communications Officer
P O Box 20894
Phone: 972 2 628 7574
Fax: 972 2 628 8421
Copyright © 2003 Caritas Internationalis - all rights reserved

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Taybeh Christian Palestinian Village Festival

Taybeh October Fest Set September 16 & 17, 2006
Press Release
May 26, 2006
By Maria C. Khoury, Ed. D.
From the highest mountain region in Palestine, Taybeh, will one more time take a leading role in making history. Asking people to escape from the city and their busy schedule for a day of fun in the small village of Taybeh (near Ramallah) known as Biblical Ephraim noted as one of the most ancient places in Palestine. The Taybeh October Fest 2005 was such a great success that the reflection of democracy and diversity in Palestine will be expressed this Fall,
Sept 16 & 17, 2006 for the 2006 Taybeh October Fest, 11 am to 7 pm
aimed at boosting the collapsed economy by supporting local products such as beer, oil, honey, yogurt, peace lamps, embroidery, and olive wood produced by local small business and three women cooperatives.
Making Taybeh famous in Biblical times was Christ’s visit before his crucifixion (John 11:54) but in modern times, master brewer Nadim C. Khoury made Taybeh famous not just by placing it on the map but by producing the first Palestinian product to be franchised and produced in Germany under the Taybeh Beer license.
Also, the most magnificent site in Taybeh is the Byzantine ruins of St. George Greek Orthodox Church. Don’t miss "Octoberfest" Palestinian style, Sep 16 & 17, 2006, in Taybeh, Palestine.
The Festival is the cooperative work of the Taybeh municipality and its mayor David Canaan Khoury, three women’s organizations, the three local parishes, the Taybeh Brewing Company, Olive Branch Foundation, Taybeh Scouts, and the Society of Christian Heritage in the Holy Land initiating a new tradition in Palestine to support local products and hoping that other towns can emulate an effort to support and celebrate specific products throughout Palestine.
Taybeh Municipality Tel: (02) 289 8436
Fax: 289 8616
Festival Coordinator: Dr. Maria C. Khoury
Mobile: 054 5 465 845
0599 318 347