Monday, November 27, 2006

New Christian Arab Web site launched

Middle East Christians Gather Online –
By Marianne Albina

In August 2006, a new initiative was launched in the Middle East to enable Arab and Middle East Christians to meet and gather online. or "reaching out", the new portal aims to provide a new means of communications that brings together Middle East Christians. The goal is to form the one and only available database for Arab and Middle East Christians.

There were several driving forces behind the creation of but at core it is a project that challenges all myths that deny Arab Christians their Arab identity. The site emphasizes the aspiration of many to stay connected despite all obstacles, including the restriction on movement and emigration. founders found a way to rise above geographical boundaries, if only by cyberspace.

They are highlighting the Arab Christian identity and seeking to stave off the wave of Arab Christian emigration from the Middle East.

"Some people are not even aware that Arab Christians exist," said Yacoub Elias Tahhan, General Manager of "Even when the Arab Christian identity is mentioned, it is sometimes politically abused and misinterpreted," said a colleague of his on Wusul’s Board of Directors.

The political conditions in the Middle East and their impact on the economy as well as the psyche of families has led many to seek better opportunities overseas; a fact that has made the phenomenon of Christian emigration a concern to all churches and individuals such as the founders of Wusul. Amidst this reality, this new initiative preserves diversity in the Middle East and keeps a Christian witness in the area. offers a glimpse of hope to people wishing to underline their existence by coming together despite all odds. has created a meeting place for individuals, institutions, churches, and any association related to Christian entities. It is a place to create personal, social and professional networks with people who one would hardly have the chance to meet otherwise.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Relevence of Palestinian-Israeli coexistence

For immediate release
November 13, 2006
Contact: Deanna Armbruster (818) 325-8884,

"The Relevance of Israeli-Palestinian Coexistence Work in the Middle East in the Wake of Recent Violence and Heightened Tensions"

Washington, D.C. - Recently, a distinguished group of regional and diplomatic experts assembled for a discussion: "Israel-Palestine: Long Term Prospects for Peaceful Coexistence." The roundtable event and luncheon was presented by the American Friends of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam in recognition of 35 years of coexistence at Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, the "Oasis of Peace," the only community in Israel where Jewish and Palestinian citizens of the state live, work and raise their children together in a mutual commitment to peace and equality.Featured panelists and speakers included: Sara Ehrman, Senior Advisor for the Center for Middle East Peace and Cooperation and Policy Advisor for AIPAC; Khalil Jahshan, Lecturer in International Studies and Languages at Pepperdine University and former Vice President of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee; Aaron David Miller, Public Policy Scholar the Woodrow Wilson Center and Department of State adviser to six Secretaries of State involving him in key peace negotiation processes; the Honorable Richard Murphy, who served as ambassador in numerous countries included Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, among others; Robert Satloff, Executive Director of the Washington Institute; General Brent Scowcroft, National Security Advisor to Presidents Geral Ford and George H.W. Bush; and Shibley Telhami, the Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland and a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute. The Honorable Samuel Lewis, former Ambassador to Israel, moderated the event.Speakers were frank and candid as they discussed the many challenges facing the region and the grim prospects for peace at this difficult time. Many stressed the urgency of the situation, calling for renewed internationally engagement of leadership in the region. While the general sentiment was focused on recent events and the bleak reality at present for a renewed peace process, many of the speakers also expressed their appreciation for the continued work of Israelis and Palestinians who continue to engage in dialogue and other coexistence programs, including the residents of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, the "Oasis of Peace" and its Jewish-Arab education, dialogue and interfaith institutions.Currently, 27 Palestinian and 27 Jewish families live in the community sharing a commitment to equality, mutual respect and peace. The community reaches beyond its borders through its bilingual, binational Primary School, which was the first bilingual school in Israel when it was founded over 20 years ago, the pioneering conflict management institute the School for Peace, which has reached nearly 40,000 Jewish and Arab, Israeli and Palestinian participants to date, and the Father Bruno Hussar Pluralistic Spiritual Center, which focuses its work on interfaith workshops and seminars. Residents continued to demonstrate the power of dialogue, education, mutual respect and cooperation even during the height of violence this summer through Jewish-Arab training programs, a camp for Palestinian children and other activities.Many of the panelists, aware of the community's perseverance and sustained commitment to peace and coexistence, highlighted the "Oasis of Peace" as a source of hope and possibility. "It [NSWAS] really is a little light of hope in this moving tide," said Sara Ehrman. "I've always thought that the solution was that one by one, individual by individual, people would learn to live with each other and this program, which is Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam exemplifies that better than any other group that I know of." Samuel Lewis referred to the "unique role" that the community plays in Israel as it brings Jewish and Palestinian children and adults together for a variety of programs.Khalil Jahshan noted the particular need for the programs of NSWAS given the current reality. ".In this context, definitely, definitely, Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam has a role to play," said Jahshan. "Things are dismal on the political and diplomatic levels, but things are brewing at the human level. Nobody in Israel or in Palestine is doing the type of work that the 50 families that live at Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam are doing.We need more groups like this to put an end or shatter that type of ignorance and mutual denial that continues in that part of the world."General Brent Scowcroft addressed the question of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam's relevance at this time. "Neve Shalom is a long-term solution.The only way you can live long-term in the region is to come to reconciliation to the region and that's what this organization is preaching and doing," explained General Scowcroft. "You learn to live together.We're all people, but we're surrounded by these months and beliefs that put us at odds.It won't work, whatever peace you have, unless you have this sense of reconciliation."

##American Friends of Neve Shalom/Wahat Al-Salam12925 Riverside Drive, 3rd Floor Sherman Oaks, CA 91423Tel. 818-325-8884 Fax 856-325-8983


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Human Rights Watch activists to be honored in Chicago Nov. 9, 2006

Annual “Voices For Justice” Dinner Highlights
Three International Defenders of Social Justice
Human Rights Watch Collaborates with Activists to Share Message of Global Equality


Katheryn Hayes/Wick Swanton – MK Communications
(312) 822-0505;,
Liba Beyer – Human Rights Watch
(212) 216-1805,

CHICAGO (October 26, 2006) – For years those who defend human rights against violations of freedom of speech, obstructions to the democratic process or things much worse – have risked their own lives for the fair treatment of others and brought about social change on all sides of the globe. Honoring the work of three defenders, the international non-profit Human Rights Watch will hold their “Voices for Justice” dinner on Thursday, November 9th at 5:30pm at the Chicago Cultural Center, Sidney Yates Gallery, 78 E. Washington.

Exemplifying the goals of Human Rights Watch, this year’s defenders, Verónica Cruz, Arnold Tsunga and Mandira Sharma, have stood up to corrupt governments, violent rebels and years of oppression to bring about social change.

Verónica Cruz is the founder and head of Las Libres, the only organization in the conservative Mexican state of Guanajuato to tackle the issue of access to abortion after rape. Verónica leads the fight against this injustice by connecting rape victims with medical and legal aid, training youth to hold health workshops for peers, and challenging policy makers to ensure real access to abortion as allowed under the law. Human Rights Watch honors Verónica for her unwavering dedication to protecting the physical integrity and autonomy of women all over Mexico

Mandira Sharma is a Nepali lawyer and human rights activist who co-founded Advocacy Forum, one of Asia’s most respected and effective human rights organizations. Mandira works to publicize human rights abuses and provide legal support to Nepali activists, many of whom have been targeted by the government. Human Rights Watch honors Mandira for representing and defending the Nepali people in the midst of serious political oppression and bloody civil war.

As the executive director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), Arnold Tsunga offers free legal advice and representation to human rights activists all over the Zimbabwe, where the government has recently intensified attacks on civil society in an effort to stifle criticism of its growing abuses. Though he has been beaten, arrested, and threatened at gunpoint, Arnold is fearless and always in the fray. Human Rights Watch honors Arnold for his steadfast commitment to those who fight for human rights in Zimbabwe.

The “Voices For Justice” dinner also has stops in New York, Toronto, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. All proceeds from the dinners benefit Human Rights Watch and their efforts to provide a better world for all to inhabit.

“The activists we honor have shown dedication to the cause of human rights,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “They have worked courageously, often in life-threatening environments, to expose rights abuses in their countries.”

The preeminent Human Rights advocacy organization in the United States, Human Rights Watch is dedicated to protecting the human rights of people around the world, investigating and exposing human rights violations and working to bring about accountability for abusers and justice to victims. The Human Rights Watch/Chicago presence was established in the spring of 2004 and is chaired by long-time Chicago activists Jerry Newton and Judy Gaynor.

For more information on Human Rights Watch, please visit

NOTE: The Defenders are available for interviews on Thursday November 9th and Friday November 10th.
# # #