I need to say

Yasser Arafat and the Christians of Palestine

By Fr. Labib Kobti

Decemeber 23, 1997

As A response to the allegated "YASSER Arafat's Palestinian Authority is waging a campaign of intimidation and harassment to push Muslims who have converted to Christianity to renounce their new faith. The Palestinian converts - members of an evangelical Christian congregation in the West Bank - say they have been threatened, beaten and some jailed by Palestinian officials...." *I NEED TO SAY*:

Dear Friends,

As representative of the Latin Patirarchate of Jerusalem in California, USA, I am at daily basis contact with my Diocese in Jerusalem, with respect to all, I ask you, *PLEASE*, try to serve the *TRUTH* and not what some people say...

If you have any question please, as responsabile of the lists, Media and education of public opinion and as people who want to serve justice, peace and *TRUTH*, try to be sure from a very truthful source of information, the Church of the Holy Land about what is happening to Christians in the Holy Land and not from any other sources.

In fact, with my respect, the Christian-Zionists and some Evangelists in the Holy Land, who pretend that they were and are persecuted by the Palestinians do not represent the Church of Jerusalem, and they showed in the past that they are not a truthful source of information in the contrary they are trying to destroy the harmony between the Arab Christians (the Christians who will be celebrating 2000 years of presence in Palestine) and their bloodbrothers and sisters the Arab Muslims. A campaign as Patriarch Michel Sabbah says in his Christmas message, 1997 about relations between Arab Christians and Arab Muslims "will lead nowhere except to more extremism...". The people and the media who are provocking this campaign, they want ot destroy the harmony between the bloodbrothers the Arab Christians, the Arab Muslims and the Arab Jews.

The Arab Christians are represented by the Arab Catholic Church , by the Arab Orhtodox Church, the ArabLutherans, the Arab Anglicans, and many others(please visit http://www.al- bushra.org to find out about the Christians of the Holy Land). Those Churches have said and repeated that they are not and were not persecuted in any way by P.A., on the contrary they are very respected and many of their people are part of the P.A intself.

When Israel is trying to make it illegal to have literature which can be considered missionary and just having a New Testament in a home can be construed in certain quarters as being missionary. The Muslim Palestinians and in general the Arab Muslims of the Middle East consider Arab Christians as part of their lives, tradition and heritage, they are bloodbrothers and bloodsister. They are also bloodbrothers and sisters with the Arab Jews.

Please read with me excerpts of three statements that comes directly form the Holy Land and, please, stop once for good, accept or to nourish divisions between bloodbrothers and sister the Arab Christians and the Arab Muslims in the Middle East and the Holy Land. Read other things on http://www.al-bushra.org that shows you the *TRUTH* from the perspective of the Head of Christian Churches and Communities in the Middle East and the Holy Land they are your truthful sources of information and not the others.

1- Statement from the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem published in Novemeber 13th 1997"... we deny and reject any allegation that we, Christians, are being subject to persecution at the hand of our Muslims nationals..... we reaffirm that the Palestinian Authority is and has been doing its best to make sure that Christians are being fairly and equally treated as all other Palestinian citizens. Moreover, the Palestinian Authority chaired by Arafat is easily accessible by us, religious leaders, through many channels. It is useless to mention that many Christians are highly ranked within the Palestinian Authority structure....Finally, we call upon the Israeli media as well as all others to be responsabile and truthful in what they report given that the destination of a people is as serious as life and death."

2- From Bishop Boulos Giacinto Marcuzzo, the General Patriarchal Latin Vican of Israel, in a letter to Prime Minister Netanyaho, on November 30th, 1997" ...The Roman Catholic Church accused Israel's state radio of discrimination , demanding it reinstate Christian programming dropped from the schedule of its Arabic service...They have cut off an entire community. This is evident religious discrimination and we want the situation to be changed"

3- From the Christmas message 1997, of Patriarch Michel Sabbah of Jerusalem: "A world campaign is being raised in these days that matter: the relations between Christians and Muslims in the Arab Countries. The campaign is striving to stres upon a "persecution" of Arab Christians by their countrymen Arab Muslims. Our comment on this campaign is the following: First the campaing will lead nowhere except to more extremism. Second, relations between Arab Christians and Arab Muslims, on the level of all governements, in Palestine, Jordan and even all Arab Countries in the Middle East are good: all governements are very attentive and careful on that issue. Third, within the one Arab Society, invarious fileds of daily life, freindship and collaboration have developped along centuries and is still developping. Fourth, on the other side, incidents between individuals happen; transgression on the land of subaltern employees can happen. Conclusion: all this campaign calls our attention, Christians and Muslims, to deepen the relation and to analyze situations in order to reach the best way of living and building together..."

Those statements show us that there is a party who tries its best to destroy the harmony between Arab Christians and Arab Muslims to benfit from it. There are starting to prepare the Public Opinion so as when they will create, by some evil means that tension, the public opinion will be prepared to condam Islam and pretend to come to save the Arab Christians.

We need to be aware of that.

We call upon all our friends all over the world to stop that campaign and see in the harmony of the Middle East different religions and ethnicity a message of love, cooperation, sharing and *TRUTH*

Fr. Labib Kobti

Representastive of the Roman Catholic Church of Jerusalem

(Latin Chuch) In Calofornia, USA

Al-Bushra http://www.al-bushra.org

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* CHRISTMAS MESSAGE OF JERUSALEM PATRIARCH

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CHRISTMAS MESSAGE OF JERUSALEM PATRIARCH

[In recent weeks, several sources in Israel-- including the nation's government-- have insisted that Christians are experiencing persecution under the Palestinian Authority. In view of these complaints, the official Christmas message of Jersualem's Patriarch Michel Sabbah-- himself a Palestinian, and the representative of Catholics in the area controlled by the Palestinian Authority-- has special news value.]

Christmas message 1997

1. My Christmas message is a message of hope. Jesus-Christ is born. He is the Savior. "Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." (Lk 2:11) He brings freedom and joy, the inner freedom for each one, from his own sins and evil, as well as from exterior evil imposed upon him by others.

A message of hope, as our general situation, political, economic, and social, is getting worse. Hope for all those who are tired, frustrated, and worried for their future and the future of their children.

2. A message of hope and courage for our leaders, Israelis, who have in hand war and peace. A message which says: you can make peace. The way to peace is justice. Justice which allows each one, individual and people, to enjoy his own freedom, to take his own decisions for his life and destiny. A message of hope for our Palestinian authority, not to lose hope before all kinds of difficulties, coming from the blockage of the peace process, or coming from its own interior administration; hope which gives strength and light to find the people who can build in this difficult but decisive moment of its history.

3. A message of hope for all the region threatened by instability, and by extremism and violence, relating themselves to religions. Hope to those extremists themselves: Jews, Muslims, or Christians: they are not condemned to exclusion of the others, and hence to extremism and violence. They too can free themselves from self and others oppression. They are able to come back from their extremism and share in the building of the new order of the world, based on the respect of all brothers and sisters, all being children of God, loved by him, who calls us to the same destiny of loving each other, and to find our salvation in this same love.

4. A message of hope for all Christians and Muslims in the Arab world. They are called to live together and to build together. No one can build the common home alone. A world campaign is being raised in these days about that matter: the relations between Christians and Muslims in the Arab countries. The campaign is striving to stress upon a "persecution" of Arab Christians by their countrymen Arab Muslims. Our comment on this campaign is the following:

First, this campaign will lead nowhere except to more extremism. Second, relations between Arab Christians and Arab Muslims, on the level of all governments, in Palestine, Jordan, and even all Arab countries in the Middle East, are good: all governments are very attentive and careful on that issue. Third, within the one Arab society, in various fields of the daily life, friendship, and collaboration have developed along centuries and is still developing. Fourth, on the other side, incidents between individuals happen; transgressions on the hand of subaltern employees can also happen. Conclusion: all this campaign calls our attention, Christians and Muslims, to deepen the relations and to analyze situations in order to reach the best way of living and building together. Salvation of Christian Arabs, if needed, can come only from their awareness of their own vocation as Christians in their Arab society.

5. A message of hope to all our faithful in Jordan, Palestine, Israel, and Cyprus. Hope for the improvement of our own religious life, as we celebrate the anniversary of a limited period of the recent history of our Patriarcate: 150 years after the reestablishment of the Catholic Latin Patriarchal See in Jerusalem in 1847. A message of hope on the occasion of this particular jubilee, on the occasion of our synod which is a continuous effort, made by all, to analyze the various aspects of our life, individual and in society, and on the occasion of the great Jubilee of the year 2000, which concerns us in a particular way, as it has its center in our own diocese and country, in Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and Nazareth.

6. A message of hope to all Christian Churches in this Holy Land: with the grace of God, with our good intentions and hearts, all of us, we can walk together, believe together, and build together our Churches and our society.

7. A message of hope to Jews, Muslims, and Christians, and especially to religious leaders: we are able to live together and to build together. We are able to love each other. We are not condemend to hate, to criticize, to be afraid. We are not condemned to make war. We can make peace. We can respect each other, we can make justice to each other. We can build together our Israeli and Palestinian society. We can help our political leaders and our people to free themselves from fear, mistrust and to reach the so long desired peace..

8. This is the message of hope which stemms from the joy of Christmas. Our hope is founded on Godís word: "You can rely on God, who has called you to be partners with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord." (1 Co 1: 9) The Prophet had also said: "For you who fear my name, the Sun of jusice will rise with healing in his rays." (Mal 3:20).

+Michel Sabbah, Patriarch Jerusalem, December 22, 1997

******* Blessed is he who knows in truth that we are but tools in God's Hands. -St. Maximos the Confessor *******