Tag Archives: Sabeel

Easter in Jerusalem

Today I attended an Easter service in Jerusalem . . . from my bedroom in Rochester, Minnesota.  I was lucky I got in because I learned that the ZOOM gathering had exceeded its capacity of 500, and they were directing the overflow crowd to watch the service online from Facebook.

Easter in Jerusalem

patent leather shoesI’m not a particularly religious person, but I was raised a good Episcopalian who always attended Easter service in my new Sunday dress, patent leather shoes and Easter hat.  The Easter egg hunt was far more interesting than listening to the sermons about Jesus’ resurrection.  But my grandmother was the lead Church elder and I loved to watch her at the front of the church teaching the congregation in her gentle way.

Today, the messages from the Sabeel leaders in Jerusalem mentioned the difficult times we’re all facing with the Coronavirus, but also the opportunity that we have to build a better future around the world and in Palestine.

Mrs. Samia Khouri touched my heart when she spoke. My screenshot doesn’t do her justice.  I sensed she was a very special woman and wanted to know more about her after the service finished.

FOSNASamia Nasir Khoury retired in 2003 after serving for 17 years as president of Rawdat El-Zuhur, a coeducational elementary school for the lower income community in East Jerusalem. She continues to serve as treasurer of the board of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in East Jerusalem and on the board of trustees of Birzeit University in Birzeit, Palestine.

Samia was born in Jaffa, Palestine on November 24, 1933. She graduated from Birzeit College in 1950, and was awarded a BBA degree from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, in 1954. Samia then returned to Birzeit, and worked from 1954-1960 at her former school as executive secretary, registrar and director of women students’ activities. Birzeit, which was founded by her aunt Nabiha Nasir in 1924, would eventually develop into the first university in Palestine. In 1960 she married Yousef Khoury, an engineer. After 44 years of marriage and the blessings of two children and six grandchildren, Yousef passed away in early 2004 in their beloved home of Jerusalem.

Samia was deeply involved with the YWCA, including serving as the national president of the YWCA of Jordan for two terms (as the Palestinian West Bank had been annexed to Jordan in 1950). When Jordan severed its ties with the West Bank in 1988, the YWCA of Palestine was reestablished, and she was its first president from 1991-96. Her breadth of international experience has also included addressing two UN NGO Forums: in New York in 1996, and in Athens in 2000.

Samia writes about justice, truth, and peace for the Palestinian people, the relationships between people and the land, the context of Christian-Jewish-Muslim relationships in the Holy Land, concerns for children in conflict, and gender issues.

Mrs. Khouri was a founding member of Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre  and recently published her memoirs entitled Reflections from Palestine: A Journey of Hope. She met met Pope Francis when he came to visit Bethlehem in 2014.

She reminded me of my grandmother. Her firm conviction that a future is possible where the current injustices in occupied Palestine are wiped away — mirrors my grandmother’s belief in a better future for everyone.

The service will be rebroadcast this evening.

We have arranged a Facebook watch party of our Holy Saturday service tonight, April 11 at 7 pm ET, where we can watch the entire service together. Go to our Facebook page at 7pm, and watch with us.

After the watch party the recording will be available there as well.

In the service we shared ways to stay connected and get involved.

  • To receive the Countering Christian Zionism toolkit and stay up to date on our Counter CUFI (Christian’s United for Israel) action sign up here.

  • To sign and spread word of our Black Church Call to End Israeli Apartheidclick here.

  • Join the Twitter campaign to Defund Gaza Blockade and invest in Healthcare for Alljoin here.

  • To donate to Friends of Sabeel North America: give here.


Filed under COVID-19, People, Spiritual - Religion, Uncategorized

“Lets Stop the Bullying Now — Everywhere”

Muslims are pissed with cartoons and video-clips.  Some Jews in Albuquerque are pissed about a conference.

The Jewish Federation of Albuquerque is alarmed about the upcoming conference called “Justice: The Path to Peace in Palestine/Israel”,  even making the effort to convince a conference sponsor to withdraw support and launching a media campaign to undermine attendance.

Why is everyone  so pissed these days?  I wonder what the ancient prophets would think about all this.

Sabeel’s conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico later this month is chock full of speakers discussing topics such as

(1) A Question of Justice: Faith Based Approaches to the Path to Peace in Palestine-Israel

(2) Moving from Zionism to a Secular Democracy

(3) Paradise Lost: the Transgenerational Legacies of Life Under Occupation: Native American and Palestinian Cultural Survival

(4) Water Denied: Justice Denied

(5) Ending Military Aid to Israel

(6) Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.   And that’s only the first morning!  Check out the full two-day program here.

If this conference looks like your cup of tea, you can register online here.

When  the Jewish Federation of Albuquerque first learned of the conference earlier this year, their leaders were obviously not pleased.  I’m not privy to the internal discussions of the JFA but the Executive Director claimed publicly that the conference organizers are attempting to “delegitimize” Israel and even went so far as to use the “A” word.   Anti-semitic.  Ouch!

The media always loves a good controversy.  “Sabeel meeting draws Jewish opposition.”   And Sam Sokolove from the JFA provided plenty of controversy in his letter printed in the Albuquerque  Journal, available here.   A response was provided by Reverend Donald Wagner, available here.  Wagner ends his letter with a plea “Let’s stop the bullying now – everywhere.”

I hadn’t heard of Sabeel before I was contacted by the conference organizers earlier this year.  I did my little part in helping to publicize the conference, and nothing I heard at any of the meetings led me to believe that there was a goal (explicit or implicit) of delegitimizing Israel.   In fact, Sabeel’s goals appeared very aligned with my own.

But after reading Sokolove’s comments in the Albuquerque Journal, I decided I’d better do my homework and find out a bit more about Sabeel.    I looked through Sabeel’s website a little closer.

Sabeel is an international peace movement initiated by Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land, who seek a just peace based on two states—Palestine and Israel—as defined by international law and existing United Nations resolutions.

  • Sabeel promotes theological, moral, and legal principles for peace as outlined in the Jerusalem Sabeel Document and the Kairos Palestine Ecumenical Declaration.
  • Sabeel is a grassroots movement striving to develop a spirituality based on justice, peace, nonviolence, liberation and reconciliation.
  • Sabeel also works to promote a more accurate awareness of the heritage and witness of Palestinian Christians.
  • FOSNA works in the U.S. and Canada to support the vision of Sabeel, cultivating the support of American churches through co-sponsored regional educational conference, alternative pilgrimage, witness trips, and international gatherings in the Holy Land.

Nothing I’ve read about Sabeel or the Friends of Sabeel in North America (FOSNA) tonight leads me to believe that the JFA has anything to worry about.  Sabeel supports a two-state solution based on international law and agreements.  Sabeel acknowledges the injustices that have been perpetrated against the Jews, and wants to see a future in the Middle East where Jews, Christians and Muslims live together with justice for all.

Sokolove and every Jew in Albuquerque should consider registering and attending the conference.  You may not agree with everything you hear, but you’ll get a good dose of what many people in the peace movement are saying and doing these days.   And isn’t knowledge a good thing?

What we need a little more of these days is listening with respect.   And a lot less bullying!


Filed under Israel, Media, Peaceful, Spiritual - Religion