Al-Liqa’ Center’s Shared Living program organized this study day in
Galilee where tens of Palestinians representing various sectors of
society, academicians, physicians, teachers, community leaders and
young people took part in this program.
The first stop was the city and the
Roman and Byzantine relics of Caesarea as well as the different
epochs: the Islamic, the crusades (the Franks), the Ottomans, the
British and Israeli periods where the Palestinian citizens were
uprooted as a result of the 1948 Nakbeh, both Muslims and
Christians. The group was informed of the importance of Cesarean to
Christian enlightenment in theology and philosophy as seen in Saint
Eusebius of Caesarea, also
called Eusebius Pamphili
(flourished 4th century, Caesarea Palestinae,
exegete, polemicist, and historian whose account of the first
is a landmark in Christian historiography.
The group then travelled north to Haifa and visited the Church of
Mar Elias – Elijah
(The Prophet Elias, The Living One) and his challenge to Ezabel, the
wife of Ahab, the Israeli king, who wanted to spread paganism in the
land of Israel. (See the Book of Kings: 17)
The group listened also to the story of the Prophet Elias as seen in
Then Mr. Lawrence Sammour of Al-Liqa’ chanted the Troparion of Saint
Elias to the group.
From Stella Mares the group visited the Baha’i gardens and listened
to the Baha’i Center’s history and visited it.
Following Haifa the group visited Acres (Akka), saw a movie about
the history of the city and went to the Pasha Bath and afterward
visited the Mosque of Al-Jazzar and they were hosted by the Imam of
the Mosque, Sheikh Sameer Muhammad Al-‘Asi who stressed Muslim
Christian shared living and national unity and the common work for
peace and justice in the Holy Land and warned of religious extremism
and fanaticism. The Imam, in addition, gave an overview of the
Mosque and its unique structure in Palestine. It is reported that
“Hairs from the Prophet are located in the Mosque” were presented
early in the early 20th century by the Ottoman Sultan
‘Abd Al-Hamid to Imam and Sheikh As’ad Al-Shuqairi. It is exhibited
to the public once a year in the month of Ramadan.
Dr. Nasri Qumsieh, a friend of Al-Liqa’ and Prof. Thiab ‘Ayyoush,
the Vice President of Al-Liqa’s Board of Trustees thanked the Imam
Al-‘Asi for his hospitality and told him that many of his principles
are common to Al-Liqa’ Center as well.
Following Acres, the group went to Al-Jish Village in the north
which is very close to the Lebanese borders and on the way the group
saw many cities and villages inhabited by Christians, Muslims, Druze
The study day was concluded by a visit to the uprooted villages such
as Kufur Bar’am, al-Mansura and Iqrit where Dr. Geries S. Khoury,
the Director of Al-Liqa’ briefed the group on each of these forced
uprooted villages in the 1948 Nakbeh as happened to uprooted other
five hundred Palestinian Arab towns and villages in the 1948 Nakbeh.
Kufur Bar’am and Iqrit were expelled from the villages on the
Lebanese borders on the condition that the residents would return
two weeks after. The Israeli Supreme court voted for their return,
but authorities eventually destroyed the two villages.
From Iqrit the group then returned to Bethlehem. During the return
trip the group participated in prayers, invocations and afterwards
listened to and participated in singing many popular and religious
All participants were satisfied with this long but useful and
important study day for their life together and because they
rediscover their common roots.