Al-Liqa’ Center for Religious and Heritage Studies in the Holy Land

The Arab Christian and Muslim Heritage Conference in the Holy Land
Christian – Muslim Dialogue Conference
26th Session


The Arab Heritage in Jerusalem

25-27 September 2013
Bethlehem Hotel - Bethlehem

Photo album
Conference Program

The three day conference began in the afternoon of Thursday 25 September 2014 in the Bethlehem Hotel in Bethlehem, titled: “The Arab Heritage in Jerusalem”. The opening was attended by leading Muslim and Christian personalities, Bishops, minister, academicians and community leaders, from throughout the Holy Land. The inaugural welcoming address was given by Director of Al-Liqa’, Dr. Geries S. Khoury who stressed that the Center continues to play the role of preserving national identity since 1982. Jerusalem is always in the heart and mind of the program and mind of members of Al-Liqa’. Despite this age where some accuse others of unbelief (Takfiri), Dr. Khoury added, we need to remind the whole world that we remain one people, Muslims and Christians, who reject the Takfiris who have no relation with Islam or any other religion. They have a political agenda and were financed and supported if not “created” by few Arab and Western countries. In addition he said that we need to work together in peaceful ways until the end of Israeli military occupation of our land. Our life together in mutual respect and deeper understanding was and still our motto and our main goal. One of the panels is on “The schools in Jerusalem”. I do believe strongly that education is one important element for our life together and for Christian – Muslim dialogue.

In the first panel the following educators took part in it: Mr. Sulayman Rabadi, Mr. Samir Jibreel, Ms. Sawsan Safadi and Mr. Nabil ‘Abdallah. All of them focused on “The Schools of Jerusalem and its Role in Preserving Arab Heritage.” All panelists stressed the dismal picture of Arab schools in Jerusalem. The panel was moderated by Mrs. Hanadi Soudah Younan, Acting Dean of Arts at Bethlehem University.

Following a coffee break, lecturer Dr. Nazmi Al-Ju’bah of Birzeit University focused on the “Present situation of Jerusalem Museums”. The lecture which was moderated by Dr. Hamzeh Theeb from al-Quds University, presented a very sad picture of museums in Arab Jerusalem.

In the second day of the conference, Friday 26 September 2014, and following breakfast, Bishop Butros Mu’allem and Attorney ‘Ali Rafi’ offered prayers, meditations and invocations. They were followed by panelists, Mr. Fahmi Al-Ansari and Mr. George Hintelian who spoke about “Jerusalem libraries witness to its Arabism.” Al-Ansari focused on the Islamic Libraries while Hintelian stressed the presence of Christian Libraries. The Islamic and Arab Libraries’ presence in Jerusalem are playing very important role. Some of them need to be classified in a modern way, specially the libraries which belong to families in the cities and contains thousands of volumes and important documents. On the other side Mr. Hintelian stressed the importance of many libraries that belong to religious orders such as the Dominicans, the Franciscans, the Jesuits and Saint Anne library. In addition he mentioned briefly about the existence of thousands of Manuscripts in Jerusalem and the oldest ones are at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. This panel was moderated by Mr. Khalil Shokeh. This panel was followed by a break for Friday prayer and for Lunch.

The afternoon session started at 3:00 p.m. when Mr. Jihad Ahmad Saleh spoke on “Samples of the learned men literate and historians from Jerusalem”, a lecture which was moderated by Prof. Abd Al-Rahman ‘Abbad.

The lecture was followed by a panel comprising H.B. Patriarch Michael Sabbah who focused on Christian response to Jewish religious interpretation on Jerusalem, and he stressed the spiritual and religious importance of the city for Christians. While Prof. Thiab ‘Ayyoush stressed the Muslim response to Jewish religious interpretation on Jerusalem and its radical importance for Islam. This panel was introduced and moderated by Doctor Peter Qumri.

Following a coffee break and prior to dinner a group of participants presented poems, essays, about their researches, news and commentaries on the present situation.

In the third day, Saturday 27 September 2014, and following breakfast, invocations and meditations were given to the conferees by Islamic Judge Muhammad Masarwa, Dr. Butrus Delli and Mr. ‘Atef Bahhuth. They were followed by a lecture titled “traditional handicrafts and its impact on the preservation of Arab identity” by Dr. Marwan Abu Khalaf from Bir Zeit University. The moderator of the lecture was Dr. Adnan Musallam of Al-Liqa’.

This lecture was followed by a lecture focusing on Islamic burials, graveyards in Jerusalem by Mr. Muhammad Bheis. Attorney ‘Ali Rafi’ moderated the lecture.

Following a coffee break, Dr. Geries S. Khoury presented an examination focusing on “A new reading of Caliph Omar’s Covenant”, a lecture which was moderated by Mr. Musa Darwish. He was followed with a power point presentation on geography, the social and political situation in Jerusalem since 1967 –present. This lecture was presented by Mr. Khalil Tufakji, and Dr. Johny Mansour introduced and moderated it.

Following each paper a detailed discussion was followed each lecture and panel. At the end of the third day, Dr. Khoury thanked all participants for their participation and contributions.

Prof. Dr. Thiab Ayyoush, Vice President of Al-Liqa Board, read the final communiqué which was prepared by elected committee from the participants taking into considerations all the conferees recommendations. Some of the recommendations are as follow:  Reiterate and emphasize the Arabism of Jerusalem and its central importance to Muslims and Christians and the rejection of all attempts to Judaize the city.

1.      The need to focus on teaching and educational pressing issues in Arab Jerusalem and to confront attempts to change the Palestinian curriculum in some schools as well as to encourage schools to organize trips to students in order to familiarize them with Jerusalem and its heritage. 

2.      To invest material and further support to Jerusalem museums and Libraries so these can be witnesses to the Arabism of Jerusalem and the source of knowledge and reason and protection.

3.      Support of traditional handicrafts and the developments of the skills of its workers in order to become distinguished compared to all imported items.

4.      The formation of a higher council to espouse Jerusalem and to develop its institutions and to put an end to the deterioration in all aspects of life.

5.      To reiterate and confirm the importance of national unity which is the rock on which all conspiracies of the occupier and his practices are broken up.

Issued in Bethlehem, 27 September 2014