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