On Friday 29 October, Sabeel and the Palestinian Catholic Boy Scouts organized a trip for children in the Old City of Jerusalem to go olive picking near Bethlehem at the Tent of Nations. The goal of the trip was to introduce the children, who do not have access in the Old City to gardens or parks, to Palestinian indigenous plants and farm life and to allow them to spend time in nature. 55 kids joined the olive picking trip to the organic farm at the Tent of Nations, which is located in the hills southwest of Bethlehem.
On Wednesday 03 November, Sabeel collected the last of twelve itineraries which will be used by Palestinian tour guides to develop full- or half-day tours for pilgrims and tourists of Jerusalem and the West Bank. In partnership with the German organization Deutscher Verein vom Heiligen Lande (DVHL), Sabeel is creating a brochure to assist tour guides in developing new and creative itineraries that will help pilgrims and tourists learn about Palestine and Palestinian history. Close to 300 Palestinian guides from Jerusalem and the West Bank have already followed the itineraries just in the last month. After finalizing the brochure, Sabeel will promote it with travel agencies and group tourist leaders.
On Wednesday 03 November, Sabeel joined a number of Christian clergy and organizations in visiting the six Palestinian civil society organizations designated as “terrorist” groups by the Israeli government last month. During the meeting at the Al-Haq office in Ramallah, directors and staff from the six organizations expressed their appreciation for the solidarity shown by churches and Christian groups around the world.
On 22 October, the Israeli Defense Minister claimed that a secret dossier proved the organizations’ links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). However, news outlets, based on the feedback from international diplomats who have been briefed by Israel on the background of its decision, have reported that the dossier does not contain any evidence of this claim.
The six organizations are: Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association; Al-Haq; Defense for Children International – Palestine; Union of Agricultural Work Committees; Bisan Center for Research and Development; and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees.
Friends of Sabeel Sweden (FOSS) invited Omar Haramy from Sabeel to speak at their meeting on Saturday 30 October about liberation theology and Sabeel’s bible study groups. Inspired by these bible study groups, FOSS has been organizing to form similar groups in Sweden. FOSS put together a booklet about how churches and individuals in Sweden can form bible study groups that are grounded in liberation theology. During the meeting, Omar discussed how liberation theology draws on the life and teaching of Jesus Christ to deepen the faith of Palestinian Christians, promote unity among them, and lead them to act for justice and peace.
Sabeel hopes to connect its study bible groups with the groups FOSS establishes and for them to work together.
On Wednesday, 03 November, Sabeel met with Israeli scholar Orit Ramon, who co-published an academic book with two other authors last year about the way Christians and Christianity are presented in the different curricula and teaching in the Israeli state education system. From the side of Sabeel there were six teachers who are Israeli Christian Palestinians living in the Galilee. This meeting, held over Zoom, took place in the context of increasing attacks on churches by Israeli Jewish citizens, whom the Israeli government explains are psychologically unstable or unhealthy. However, Professor Ramon’s research shows that the Israeli state curricula and teaching portray Christians and Christianity (as well as anyone who is not Jewish or even Jewish Orthodox) in a very negative way, creating hatred among school children towards Christians. The curricula in particular draws on the history of anti-Semitism in Europe and the involvement of the Church in harboring antisemitic feelings.
In June, Sabeel organized a meeting for the Christian community and which was attended by many Christian leaders to discuss the spike in attacks on individuals, churches and christian cemeteries. The attacks have been occurring at about an average of two or three per month in the past year. Although they could be seen as simply part of the ongoing violence between Palestinians and Israeli Jews, Sabeel wanted to examine the situation further. Sabeel is planning next to meet with Jewish centers in Israel that focus on Christian-Jewish relations to discuss their work and the possibility of collaboration.
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