Al-Liqa’ Center for Religious and Heritage Studies in the Holy Land
On Thursday, 6 December 2012
Bethlehem Hotel – Bethlehem
Sabeel and Al-Liqa’ Centers organized this study day with the presence of more than 120 persons of all walks of life led by educators, religious persons and academicians. The Mufti of Bethlehem, Sheikh ‘Abd Al-Majeed ‘Ata; Director of Education in the Bethlehem Governorate, Mr. Sami Mrowa; and a representative of the military commander of the Bethlehem Governorat, Mr. Adnan Al-Nayef, also attended the study day.
Mrs. Sawsan Bitar, coordinator of Shared Living in Sabeel, welcomed those participating in the study day.
A panel which was moderated by Mr. Mousa Darwish of Al-Liqa’ included presentations by Dr. Geries S. Khoury and Fr. Dr. Faisal Hijazin.
Dr. Khoury focused on the educational curricula and shared living and the dire need to revise Palestinian curricula especially those dealing with civic and religious education as well as Arabic and History which do not cover Christian Arab presense and participation in building Arab civilization, a matter that does not help full citizenship and shared living.
Fr. Dr. Faisal Hijazin, on his part, focused on the meeting held between him and the deputy secretary of Ministry of Education, Dr. Jihad Zakarneh, Director of General Education, Mr. ‘Omar ‘’Anbar, and the person in charge of private schools, Mr. Muhannad ‘Aabed. Dr. Hijazin put forth in the meeting the need to develop the curricula in order to be attuned with Palestinian reality. Christian presence in Palestine is a basic element in history and society. Fr. Faisal warned that anyone who attempts to negate pluralism and religious, cultural and political differences only underminds society.
Ministry of education welcomed Fr. Faisal’s suggestions. The booklet “History the Teacher of life” was presented to the Ministry in order to pointout historical errors that have been committed against Palestinian Christians in the curricula. Dr. Jihad Zakarneh understands the need of the curricula to be revised and developed and compared Palestinian society to a rainbow in which Christians and Muslims are integral ingredients of it. Dr. Zakarneh added that no one wants to undermine the active and positive role of Christians in history.
Following a short coffee break, the second panel was moderated by a friend of Al-Liqa’, Mr. Younis Jaddou’. Mrs Haifa Baramki, from Birzeit University, stressed the importance of religious discourse and the ways to utilize these texts to shared Living. This discourse that we espouse must show us the religion of the other in order to understand each other. Religious discourse must respect dignities and the humanity of the other in order to move upward to a dialogue built on respect, love and understanding. Mrs. Baramki stressed the need to introduce the subject of “ethics” in the Palestinian Curricula in order to present to students an education based on openness, respect and balance.
Sheikh Zuheir Al-Dab’i of Nablus focused as well on the importance of a tolerant religious discourse which unites but does not divide; and he stressed the role of religious discourse in strengthening national unity and in undermeaning hate and violence.
Pastor Ibrahim Nairouz from Rafidia / Nablus spoke about harmony in society and the need to select and train preachers in mosques and churches in order to stress in their messages the importance of loving and respecting the others. Furthermore, there is a need to activate places of worship for the public for the cause of dignified living. This responsibility contributes to share living and national unity.
At the conclusion of the conference, the following recommendations were adopted:
· The need to introduce shared living culture in Islamic and Christian education as well in the civic education curricula in order to reflect national presence for all citizens irrespective of their religious beliefs and dogma.
· Those developing the Palestinian curricula, in accordance with those attending the study day, need to include the others’ belief and principles, especially those who live in the same land, in order for students to know more about their bretherns who share with them geography and history.
· Those present in the study day emphasize the important role of teachers who need to be fully qualified citizens in order to protect in their presence the culture of shared living and nationalist thought.
· Those present stress that solving problems must be accomplished through serious and balanced dialogue by the children of the one nation. Fanaticism must be completely eradicated.
· Religious discourse must be mobilized totally to serve human dignity and especially in these fast days in which the world is becoming a screen in one’s hand.
· The curricula must be a basic element in the making of national personality which is protistic in its identity and its local, national and human components.