Al-Liqa’ Center for Religious and Heritage Studies in the Holy Land
Shared Living Program
Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center
“Shared Living in the Coming State”
The Study Day was attended by more than 150 leading Christian and Muslim religious leaders from throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem as well as from Galilee/ Israel.
The conferees were welcomed by Al-Liqa’ Center Director, Dr. Geries S. Khoury, and Al-Sabeel Director, Rev. Dr. Na’im Ateeq.
The first panel of the “Study Day” which was moderated by former ambassador to France, Mrs Hind Khoury, included His Beatitude Michael Sabbah, former Patriarch of the Latin Patriarchate, and his Excellency the Mufti of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, Muhammad Hussein. Patriarch Sabbah stressed that Abu Mazen’s trip to the United Nations is a step toward peace. It is addressed to Israel and the world community and telling them in a peaceful way: recognize our rights and our existence. Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, like Patriarch Sabbah, affirmed the religious leaders’ support of Palestinian decision to go to the United Nations to acquire full membership as a state whereas Israel continues to construct the racist separation wall and colonial settlement as well as the Judaization of Arab Jerusalem. The Mufti stressed the importance of national unity and that Palestinian Christians and Muslims together constitutes the Palestinian people. Our mutual respect is of great importance as well as our religious freedom.
The second panel of the Study Day which was moderated by Ms. Samia Khoury of Al-Sabeel, focused on “The future of shared living in light of the establishment of an independent Palestine state”. Fr. Dr. Rafiq Khoury and the Mufti of Bethlehem Governate Sheikh ‘Abd al-Majeed ‘Ata discussed religious discourse and shared living and reaffirmed the need for uniting this religious discourse for the sake of national unity, shared living and the acceptance of the other. Attorney Mary Rock, stressed the legal aspects that would guarantee religious freedom, democracy and civil society.
The third panel which was moderated by Pastor Ibrahim Nairooze of the Nablus area focused on suggestions for the upcoming period. Islamic propagator Zuheir al-Dib’i stressed the need to respect the principle of citizenship, pluralism and partnership and to keep distance from factors that lead to sectarianism. He pointed out that Islam produced a civilization which guaranteed freedoms and the respect of the other and partnership underlining that the Christian citizen is a basic element in Palestinian society. Rev. Dr. Na’im Ateeq pointed out that changes need to start with one self and the need for understanding that leads to the respect of the other. He called for the strengthening of relations between Christian and Muslim families in all aspects of life so they can understand and respect each other and they need to strengthen common values. Rev. ‘Atteq said mentioned that all should be committed to discuss Palestinian constitution and to work toward refining it, a step that would serve democracy, pluralism and citizenship. He emphasized that Palestine has been always the country of pluralism, and we need to preserve that. He was followed by Dr. Khoury who in his remarks stressed the importance of education at home and in school. He stressed the need to restudy the curriculum and to introduce in it the role of Arab Christians in Arab History and literature and their role in the daily life during the Islamic period in administration, science and in education. He continued his remarks by saying that knowing the Arab history in an objectively could strengthen relations between our youngsters and young men and women. Dr. Khoury stressed the importance of mass media in fostering national unity, shared living and citizenship. Dr Khoury ended his remarks by saying that “incarnated and strong faith” is the most important aspect for a peaceful life together. If we strengthen and incarnate our “Faith”, both Christians and Muslims, the more we love each other; and the diminished of “faith” only leads to hatred and causes much damage to shared living. Dr. Khoury called for a spiritual summit conference in the Holy Land to which Church leaders and Muslim religious leaders, educators, clergy, politicians as well as all those who are interested in dialogue and shared living will be invited.
Following the above mentioned panels ten group discussions were formed to discuss questions that were pointed out by panel members. Recommendation by each group was crystallized and presented to the conferees. Attorney ‘Ali Rafi’ from Haifa commented on today’s meeting as follows: “this gathering strengthens shared living, and mutual respect between Muslims and Christians of the Palestinian people and contributes to the deepening of national priorities including the setting up of an independent Palestinian state with Arab Jerusalem as its capital and the right of return for Palestinians refugees.”