Al-Liqa’ Center for Religious and Heritage Studies in the Holy Land
Wednesday, 15 May 2013, at the Latin Parish in Birzeit Meeting Room
At the invitation of Al-Liqa’ Center and Sabeel Center and with the cooperation of the Parish Priest of Birzeit, Rev. Dr. Louis Hazboun, a meeting was held comprising Muslim and Christian clergy and other well known attendees from Bethlehem, Ramallah, Birzeit, ‘Abud and Jifna on Wednesday 15 May 2013. The group met to discuss challenges and future of shared living in Palestine. Rev. Dr. Hazboun began the meeting with a detailed introduction to the museums in the Latin Parish hall which were established and developed by the Latin Parish Priest himself. The museums illustrate the material culture of the people who inhabited the Holy Land. Following the introduction of the museums, Rev. Dr. Hazboun welcomed all members of the group and spoke of common factors underlying shared living and the many challenges facing this Shared Living. He underlined the mechanics needed to maintain national unity.
Rev. Dr. Na’im ‘Ateeq of Sabeel focused on the Nakbeh Rememberance Day, the 15th of May, and spoke of his and his family’s experiences of being uprooted from Bisan in the Jordan Valley in 1948. He pointed out the attempts by Zionist soldiers to plant the seeds of insert between uprooted Christian and Muslim Palestinians. He stressed the need for the clergy to know each other and the need for frankness and dialogue.
Dr. Geries S. Khoury of Al-Liqa’ focused on challenges which face the nation and citizens as a result of the growth of fanatic political Islamic movements which attempt to exclude the “other”, Muslim or Christian. We should reject any attempts to marginalize Christians as we reject the marginalization of others who are different from us. Fanaticism is a sign of ignorance, weakness and the lack of faith. We need to face these fanatic currents with strong faith, courage, frankness and rationtism in order to show them their crooked way and its miss use of religion and the words of God.
Dr. Khoury added that the faithful cannot exclude the others because our Lord ordered us to love one another and to live in dignity. He stressed the importance of religious discourse, education at home, in school, in mosque, in church, and in clubs. For education is the foundation of knowing the other. This knowledge teaches us not to hurt the other even if one is different from us.
Following these breif presentations, a detailed discussion took place. All attendees stressed the need for these gatherings to continue.
At the conclusion of this gathering, Al-Liqa’ and Sabeel invited everyone for dinner and during it they continue the dialogue and it was a good occasion for knowing each other more deeply. Before we left, all agreed that the next gathering will be in July 2013 in Bethlehem during the Ramadan Month.