Conference on Christians in the Holy Land - more speeches from the first day
Thursday 21st July 2011The following speeches are a selection of those made on the first day of the Conference on Christians in the Holy Land, hosted by Archbishop Rowan Williams and Archbishop Vincent Nichols.
The Executive Director of One Voice (a non profit organization working in Israel and Palestinian territories to achieve a two-state solution through non violent means) Samer Makhlouf gave some reflections on his own personal experiences and identity as a Palestinian Christian, and the strong sense he had of being 'a messenger' and how Christians can be the peacemakers - acting as ties between the different communities. Samer also discussed the situation of young Christians in the Holy Land and the urgent need to provide economic empowerment and education opportunities in order to prevent further emigration from the area.
Zoughbi Zoughbi is the Director of the Wi'am Center for Conflict Resolution. Founded in March 1995, the Center helps to ressolve disputes within the Palestinian community by implementing the traditional Arab form of mediation, known as Sulha, as well as Western models of conflict resolution. Zoughbi Zoughbi spoke about the need to move from victimhood to collective responsibility with regard to what has taken place in the Holy Land and talked about the importance of restorative justice rather than revenge.
Lubna Alzaroo is a Muslim student in her final year of study at Bethlehem Univeristy. Originally from Hebron, Lubna spoke of her personal experience of meeting Palestinian Christians for the first time and her realisation that "we share the same culture, the same background. We even share the same suffering." After talking further about her experiences at a Catholic Univeristy she said: "You cannot talk about pluralism in the abstract. It has to be experienced."
Hana Bendcowsky, Director of Christian Jewish relations at the Jerusalem Centre, stressed the need for dialogue in seeking a solution to the conflict, and urged that understanding and encounters between the two communities need to be fostered in order to find common values that can overcome ignorance and prejudice.
HRH Prince Hassan of Jordan
Prince Hassan of Jordan sent a letter to the two Archbishops, offering his support and prayers for the Conference. The letter was read out by Harry Hagopian who attended the Conference as representive for the Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate.