Living Together Program “Challenges and Future of Shared Living in Palestine”

Al-Liqa’ Center and Sabeel Center
“Challenges and Future of Shared Living in Palestine”
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 participants from Bethlehem, Ramallah, Birzeit, ‘Aboud, and Jifna on Wednesday 15 May 2013. The group met to discuss the challenges and the 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 display artifacts that illuminate the culture of the people who inhabited the Holy Land. Following the introduction of the museums, Rev. Dr. Hazboun welcomed the group and spoke of common factors underlying shared living, as well as its many challenges. He underlined methods of maintaining national unity.

Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek of Sabeel focused on Nakba Rememberance Day, May 15th, and spoke of his and his family’s experiences of being uprooted from Beisan in the Jordan Valley in 1948. He pointed out the attempts by Zionist soldiers to plant the seeds of discord 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 Islamist 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 rational thinking in order to show them their crooked way and its misuse 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 mosques, in church, and in clubs. For education is the foundation of knowing the other. This knowledge teaches us not to hurt the other, despite any differences between us.

Following these presentations, a detailed discussion took place. All participants stressed the need for these gatherings to continue.

At the conclusion of this gathering, Al-Liqa’ and Sabeel invited everyone for dinner. During the meal, they continued to dialogue and get to know each other. The next gathering is scheduled for July 2013 in Bethlehem, during the month of Ramadan.