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

Celebrates the Silver Jubilee 1982-2007

15 February 2008
Bethlehem Hotel, Bethlehem

 Photo album

Under the auspices of H. B. Msgr. Michael Sabbah, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and President of Al-Liqa' Center's Board of Trustees, the celebrations of Al-Liqa' Center's Silver Jubilee took place on Friday, 15 February 2008 with inaugural prayers and invocations by Sheikh 'Abd Al-Majeed 'Ata, the Mufti of Bethlehem, and Mr. Lawrence Sammour, a member of Al-Liqa' Board of Trustees. Mr. Mousa Darwish, Deputy Director of Al-Liqa' Center and member of the Board, moderated the celebrations.

The first speaker was Patriarch Sabbah who welcomed attendees and in the process underlined the importance of the mission of Al-Liqa' Center in promoting dialog and in strengthening and deepening "life together" among Palestinian Christians and Muslims despite the very difficult circumstances that Palestinians experience under the Israeli military occupation and practices. Furthermore, he condemned the destruction of the YMCA library in Gaza, which took place few hours before the Jubilee Celebrations were taking place. He dismissed as marginal voices, such as the one of an American senator, who claims that Muslims persecute Christians in Palestine. His Beatitude likewise reiterated that present Palestinian friction into Gaza and West Bank entities must end soon since this division only serves the interest of the occupier. As far as the march of the Center, he stressed the need to broaden the base of Al-Liqa', to reexamine Palestinian educational curricula, especially in religious education, and to carry in-depth studies and research work on Muslim-Christian relations.

The Patriarch was followed by Dr. Geries S. Khoury, the Director of Al-Liqa', who briefed the audience on the accomplishments of the Center in the last twenty five years. He talked about the interfaith and the theological Conferences, youth activities, Wednesday programs, publications and in special way the Al-Liqa Magazine, the international activities and mentioned the establishment of the Galilee branch at the Mar Elias Educational Institutions in Ibillin.Dr Khoury spoke also about the futre vision of Al-Liqa Center.(See the full text) He thanked in the process all those who supported Al-Liqa' from the local community by their continuous presence and contributions, and thanked all Catholic and Protestant organizations, locally and internationally, for their financial support and in a special way he thanked "MISSIO-Aachen” for its unique support since al-Liqa was established in 1982. Dr Khoury thanked warmly the members of the Board of Trustees and all those who worked and still in Al-Liqa and the Emerezian Est. Jerusalem. At the end of his speech, Mr. Osama Emerezian presented to Dr. Khoury a plaque congratulating Al-Liqa' Center on the Silver Jubilee. Following Dr. Khoury, there was a video presentation of Al-Liqa' Center.

The Chief Muslim Religious Judge of Palestine, His Eminence Sheikh Tayseer Al-Tamimi, stressed in his speech the Muslim-Christian solidarity and the important role of all Palestinians in defending and preserving the Holy city, Jerusalem from the Israeli occupation. Sheikh Tamimi spoke also about the importance of the Omar treaty and about citizenship and freedom for all. He remembered George Habash who was a dear friend to his father. Sheikh Tamimi mentioned also the importance to have strong relations with similar organizations in the Islamic world and mentioned the “Qatar Interfaith Forum” and possible relations with them in the near future.

Professor Thiab Ayyoush, Vice President of Al-Liqa Board, stressed that uniqueness of Al-Liqa' Center who was the first of its kind in the area of interfaith dialog and in the Arab nation. The success of Al-Liqa' encouraged other similar Centers in Lebanon, Cairo and Amman. The Center underlined national partnerships, and held conferences and panels and participated in international conferences such as the International Jerusalem Forum which was held in Istanbul from 14-17 November 2007. He also mentioned the importance of research in the future.

The person in charge of external affairs in MISSIO-Aachen, Germany, Mdm. Irmgard Icking, who came specifically to attend Al-Liqa' Silver Jubilee expressed her happiness for attending the celebration. MISSIO has supported Al-Liqa' all those years hoping that this support contributed to the proliferation of "shared living" among Palestinians as well as the development of “Palestinian Contextual Theology”. Dr. Harald Suermann and Dr. Richard Brosse from the Missiology Institute and other colleagues in "MISSIO- Aachen” extend their best wishes and continued support to Al-Liqa' Center. (See the full text)

Dr. Uwe Grabe, the Propst of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Jerusalem, said that Al-Liqa' Center is different from many dialogue-initiatives, which sprung up from the ground of Palestine and Israel like mushrooms during the years of the Oslo Process and which soon succumbed, while the work of Al-Liqa’ is deeply rooted in its Palestinian environment.(see the full text)

At the conclusion of the Celebration, certificates of appreciation and medallions were presented to The Chief Muslim Religious Judge of Palestine, His Eminence Sheikh Dr. Tayseer Al-Tamimi and to the founding members of the Board of Trustees and other members of the Board.

A special plaque and certificate of appreciation was presented by H.B. Patriarch Sabbah and the Director of Al-Liqa , Dr.Geries S. Khoury, to the representative of MISSIO-Aachen, Mdm. Irmgard Icking.

During the celebrations traditional dance and songs were presented by "Arabella" and "Dalal" musical group.

At the conclusion of celebrations everyone attending was invited for a special dinner at which several persons spoke including Dr. Amal Jado, Attorney 'Ali Rafe’ (see the text), and Al-Liqa' Board member, Mrs. Hanadi Soudah Younan (see the text). All of them spoke about their experiences in Al-Liqa' during the last many years.

 Likewise, a hard cover bi-lingual Al-Liqa Silver Jubilee book (1982-2007) was distributed to all attendees.