Jerusalem International School of Reconciliation 2016

September

The Jerusalem International School for Reconciliation has again been held this summer. Around fifty people of different backgrounds and from a variety of countries came to the city for lectures and discussions about the realities of interfaith dialogue in the Holy Land.
Students at this year’s Jerusalem International School of Reconciliation
They came from America, Canada, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, England, the Netherlands, Sweden, Japan, Singapore and Australia. Many are pastors, some are students of theology, some are studying or working on interfaith relations – and others are just ordinary people keen to deepen their knowledge of the issues facing this region today.
The school is again being held at Christ Church – in the Old City just inside the Jaffa Gate. Christ Church was founded in the 1840s and is the oldest Protestant church in the Middle East. The church, guest house and facilities provide a congenial framework for learning, discussion and fellowship. We are really grateful to the Rector, the Rev David Pileggi for all his support.
The Rev David Pileggi at Christ Church, Jaffa Gate
After opening discussions, the group had a most interesting day at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs looking at the current challenges facing the country and in particular the important role of relations with other faiths within the region and beyond. With the land’s dense and complex history, particularly in Jerusalem itself, archaeology and historical research can be very sensitive, as can Israel’s relations with organisations such as UNESCO.
Students at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs 
The group also visited Bethlehem to see the Governor of Bethlehem, the mayor of Bethlehem and the Minister of Tourism in the Palestinian Authority. There was a lively discussion of the difficulties facing communities in the West Bank – in particular maintaining access by foreign visitors to places like Bethlehem where pilgrimage is of great significance and where tourism is also therefore a key economic sector. Nurturing inter-community relations can have an important role to play.
This year’s programme again included a visit to Hebron to see first hand how the Tomb of Abraham has been adapted to accommodate both a mosque and a synagogue and to allow both Jewish and Muslim visitors to approach the cenotaphs of Abraham and Sarah. The group was also invited to meet with Archbishop Mor Severios Malke Mourad of the Syrian Orthodox Church. They then went to see the real Upper Room of St Mark’s Church, which was very moving.
The Cave of the Patriarchs, which houses the Tomb of Abraham
The real Upper Room at St Mark’s Church
The school has included specific presentations from each of the three Abrahamic faiths: Pastor Naim Khoury from the Baptist Church Bethlehem, Professor Avraham Tsvi from Jerusalem and Sheikh Hatem al-Bakri, Imam of the Abraham Mosque in Hebron. The group also visited Mount Gerizim to learn about the traditions and beliefs of the still flourishing Samaritan community.
In addition, both Rabbi Michael Melchior and Sheikh Imad al-Falouji have again given inspiring presentations on their own personal work to promote interfaith dialogue and to improve relations between the three main faiths in the Holy Land.
Rabbi Michael Melchior
This year, the school also invited speakers from NGOs active in interfaith relations and in humanitarian work within local and international communities. Kids4Peace has been particularly effective in working with school-age children in the different communities in Israel, while the international work of IsraAIDtouches communities of many persuasions in the region and beyond.
The school again concluded with a discussion led by Dr Petra Heldt of the Ecumenical Theological Research Fraternity in Israel (ETRFI) which concentrates on interfaith understanding between Jews and Christians.


This report was written by Christopher Segar who sits on FRRME’s Board of Trustees
How you can help
If you are a UK resident, you can make a single or regular donation via our website by clicking here.
American supporters can make a donation via our sister organisation, FRRME America, by clicking here.
Alternatively, you can make a donation to our emergency appeal by clicking here.
Thank you,
The FRRME Team

Weekly Media Summary 26 August 2016

August

Each week we post a selection of recent online items where you can find out about the latest developments in the countries in which the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East operates – Iraq, Jordan, Israel / Palestine.

This week’s Media Summary features news about the Iraqi army’s capture of Qayyara oil region from IS; Prince Hassan’s condemnation of IS attacks against Christians; and the revenge shooting of a Palestinian man by an Israel soldier.

Iraq

Reuters: Iraq army captures Qayyara oil region from IS, Abadi says

The Wall Street Journal: Iraqi Parliament Votes to Oust Defense Minister

Jordan

Christian Today: Prince Hassan of Jordan condemns ISIS’ ‘sickening attacks’ on Christians in the Middle East

BBC News: Jordanian reversal on Syrian work permits starts to bear fruit

Israel / Palestinian Territories 

The Independent: Israeli soldier shoots dead Palestinian man who stabbed him in West Bank attack

The New York Times: Israel Clears Troops in Airstrike Near School in 2014 Gaza War

The persecuted Christians of Iraq – Yasser’s story

August

“We met with them (the Christians) in the presence of a representative of the Caliph al-Baghdadi. He offered the chance for them to convert to Islam. If you don’t accept this, you can pay non-Muslim tax (Jizya), according to the Quran. If you don’t accept this, there is nothing left between us but killing and fighting.”

Abu Abdula (Islamic State Judge), Raqqa

Below is the testimony of Yasser, an Iraqi Christian from Baghdad. His story is typical of the many people we are helping – followers of Yesua who have been terrorised and displaced by sectarian violence.

Yasser’s Story

Yasser was born and lived in Baghdad. He worked as a welder, a job he did to provide for his two small children. In July 2014 an anonymous note arrived at Yasser’s place of work, followed by a phone call. Both made clear that Yasser and his family were not safe.
“I had no choice. My daughter was 4 years old and my son was 8 months old. I feared for their lives so I took them to Sulaymaniyah, a city in the Kurdish region of Iraq. There we lived in a church for one month before moving to Jordan in August 2014.”
In Jordan, Yasser was able to get an asylum interview with the UN, hopeful that he and his family would be able to emigrate to the United States. However, this did not happen and Yasser and his family were stuck in Amman without money, food or shelter.
Currently, the Jordanian government will not permit Iraqi refugees to work (only Syrian refugees are able to get work permits). Much of the financial aid given to Jordan by the international community, including the British and American governments, has gone to helping Syrian refugees.
However, thanks to your support, Yasser now has a job assisting at our school in Marka (a suburb south of Amman), where he works as an administrator. We are also able to provide money for rent so that he and his family have a roof over their heads, as well as vouchers for food.
Here are some quick facts about how your donations will help refugees like Yasser:
If you would like to support our work, please see the options below.
How you can help
If you are a UK resident, you can make a single or regular donation via our website by clicking here.
American supporters can make a donation via our sister organisation, FRRME America, by clicking here.
Alternatively, you can make a donation to our emergency appeal by clicking here.
Thank you,
The FRRME Team

Weekly Media Summary 19 August 2016

August

Each week we post a selection of recent online items where you can find out about the latest developments in the countries in which the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East operates – Iraq, Jordan, Israel / Palestine.

This week’s Media Summary features news about the execution of 36 ISIS mass murderers by the Iraqi government; bilateral talks between Jordan and Russia about the Syria crisis; and a public apology to Palestinians by Hamas co-founder, Muhammad Nazami Nasser, for the destruction caused by his group:

Iraq

Christian Post: Iraq to Execute 36 ISIS Terrorists Who Killed 1,700 People

The Spectator: Iraq’s national youth orchestra: an improbable story on a heroic scale

Jordan

The Jordan Times: Jordan, Russia seek ‘inclusive solution’ to Syria crisis

Al Bawaba: Jordan’s Islamic Action Front allies with Christians, other groups, ahead of elections

Israel / Palestinian Territories 

The Times of Israel: Co-founder of Hamas military wing issues startling apology to Palestinians

Christian Today: Beacon of hope: Israel, the only country in Middle East where Christians live in peace and security

 

 

Caring for disabled children in Kirkuk

August

Last year, Islamic State issued a fatwa calling for children with Down syndrome and other congenital disabilities to be killed. Following the decree, 38 children between one week and three months old were murdered by lethal injection or suffocation.
We are working to oppose this evil on every level. As well as our Um-Noor kindergarten in Erbil, which looks after 130 children, we are supporting a centre for children with special educational needs in Kirkuk (150 miles north of Baghdad).
Kirkuk is on the front line with Islamic State and the children there, who have a variety of special needs, from autism to Down syndrome, have very little. However, the centre we support provides them with a safe place to play, as well as toys and food.
Sadly, some of the children have very severe disabilities but we are doing what we can to help, including giving their families regular food packages.
If you would like to support our work / projects in the Middle East, please make a donation. Your money will be used to provide food, medical supplies, shelter, and other essentials to Iraqi refugees and IDPs.
How you can help
If you are a UK resident, you can make a single or regular donation via our website by clicking here.
American supporters can make a donation via our sister organisation, FRRME America, by clicking here.
Alternatively, you can make a donation to our emergency appeal by clicking here.
Thank you,
The FRRME Team

Weekly Media Summary 12 August 2016

August

Each week we post a selection of recent online items where you can find out about the latest developments in the countries in which the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East operates – Iraq, Jordan, Israel / Palestine.

This week’s Media Summary features news about Iraq’s dwindling Christian community; the struggles faced by Iraqi refugees in Jordan; escalating violence in Israel; and an interview with Dr Sarah Ahmed in Christian Post.

Iraq

Christian Post: Iraq’s Last Remaining Christians Determined to Stay Despite Risk of Being Killed by ISIS

Catholic News Agency: New Iraqi priests bring joy amid years of sadness, displacement

Jordan

Cross Map: ‘We Have no Voice’: Christians in Jordan 2 Years After Fleeing N. Iraq

The Jordan Times: Yarmouk University offering 250 scholarships to Syrian refugees

Israel / Palestinian Territories 

USA Today: Palestinian stabs Israeli after five-week lull in attacks

Newsweek: Another War Between Israel and Hezbollah is Inevitable

FRRME in the media 

Christian Post: Muslim Woman Devotes Her Life to Helping Christians Displaced by ISIS

Iraqi Kurdistan – working in the land of those who face death

August

Northern Iraq is divided. To the west, the de facto Islamic State. To the east, the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan. Not much separates the two geographically, but ideologically they are worlds apart. Islamic State propagates a hard-line Salafist interpretation of Sunni Islam, meting out a long list of prohibitions and punishments on a terrified civilian population. Kurdistan, in stark contrast, is the freest place in Iraq, a parliamentary democracy protected by an armed force known as the “Peshmerga”, or “those who face death.”
We have been working in Iraqi Kurdistan since 2015. Through partnerships on the ground, we are continuing to provide emergency relief to thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Last month we gave out 5000 food packages to IDP families in Erbil and Dohuk, and provided daily meals of hot food to another 1000 families.
Our team on the ground serving hot food to IDPs
Our work in Iraqi Kurdistan is being led by Dr Sarah Ahmed, FRRME’s Director of Operations in the Middle East. You can read more about what we do in this excellent interview with Dr Sarah, published in the Christian Post this week (click on the image below to read the article).
If you would like to support our work, please see the options below:
How you can help
If you are a UK resident, you can make a single or regular donation via our website by clicking here.
American supporters can make a donation via our sister organisation, FRRME America, by clicking here.
Alternatively, you can make a donation to our emergency appeal by clicking here.
Thank you,
The FRRME Team

Weekly Media Summary 5 August 2016

August

Each week we post a selection of recent online items where you can find out about the latest developments in the countries in which the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East operates – Iraq, Jordan, Israel / Palestine.

This week’s Media Summary features news about ISIS atrocities in Northern Iraq; aid dropped by crane at the Jordan / Syria border; and an appeal by Palestinians to prevent the destrctuion of Sussiya village.

Iraq

Daily Mail: ISIS brutes slaughter pregant woman and abduct her four children after they were caught trying to flee their village in Iraq

Independent: Isis air strikes: RAF targets Saddam Hussain’s former palace as Iraq bombbing campaign continues

Jordan

Mail Online: Aid dropped by crane reaches 75,000 Syrians on Jordan border

Middle East Eye: Jordan sentences man to death for killing five in attack on spy service

Israel / Palestine

The Jeruslaem Post: Palestinians issue international appeal: Stop Israel from demolishing Sussiya

Al Jazeera: Palestinians decry impunity for Israeli settler attacks

 

 

“Break the Cross” – ISIS proclaims war on Christianity

August

Amid the sectarian war being waged in Iraq, ISIS continues to target Christians. This analysis in The Telegraph newspaper – “Isil knows its priorities – and killing Christians is one of them” – explains the devastating toll suffered by Iraq’s persecuted Christian community.
Christian Iraqi children in our care sing the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic, the language of Christ
Last week saw the sickening murder of Father Jacques Hamel, an 85-year-old priest who was stabbed to death in his church in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray. The attackers were later described by ISIS as “soldiers of the Caliphate”. In the latest issue of its English language magazine, Dabiq, ISIS calls on Christians worldwide to “break their crosses”, adding that Jesus was a “slave of Allah” and that much of the New Testament was fabricated.
For Iraq’s Christians, such attacks are nothing new. And yet, they have been forgotten by the International Community. While Western Governments are reluctant to help Iraq’s beleaguered Christian community for fear of being labelled “Crusaders”, we are continuing to do everything we can to help our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Our school in Jordan provides an education for nearly 200 Iraqi refugee children
As a Christian NGO, we care deeply about the survival of Christianity in the Middle East and about those who are suffering for their faith. Whether they are trapped in an IDP camp in Kurdistan or are trying to build new lives in Jordan, we are there to help them.
If you would like to support this work, please see the options below.
How you can help
If you are a UK resident, you can make a single or regular donation via our website by clicking here.
American supporters can make a donation via our sister organisation, FRRME America, by clicking here.
Alternatively, you can make a donation to our emergency appeal by clicking here.
Thank you,
The FRRME Team
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Insights from Sarah Ahmed, Director of Operations
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