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Summer, 2014
Volume 40, Number 2
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In this 1996 image, children attend a festival in New York celebrating Greek heritage. (photo: Karen Lagerquist)
  
23 June 2014
Greg Kandra




Palestinian refugee Mohamad Yaser, 6, from the Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, West Bank, plays music with the "Sounds of Palestine" program at the Bethlehem Live festival on Star Street on 20 June. The festival brings attention to the neglected street and raises awareness about its needs in the municipality. (photo: CNS/Debbie Hill)

Residents of Bethlehem gathered to make a little noise — and get some attention — last week.

CNS reports:

Sitting outside their childhood home on Star Street, three sisters and their cousin chatted as they watched a small parade of children dance past, following a variety of clowns and jugglers and two giant dancing puppets.

An actor dressed as a caveman, hunched over and stomped through the crowd while clutching a walking staff in one hand and a stone in another; he brought smiles to some faces and sent even some of the older boys scurrying with fright.

Along the side of the stone road, vendors sold traditional olive wood crafts, homemade Palestinian delicacies, thin traditional shrak bread, protest posters, clothes, designer jewelry and the prerequisite popcorn, hot dogs and ice cream.

“When we were young, this street was always full and lively. Children were in the streets. There were shops and offices here,” recalled Marlene, 60, one of the three Catholic women who asked that their last name not be used. Antoinette, 77, the oldest and unmarried sister, still lives in the house where they grew up. “But since the intifada, everything closed. Now usually the street is always empty. Seeing all these people here reminds us of the good days.”

Though on the face the Bethlehem Live Festival is a cheerful street festival — originally intended to bring attention to the neglected street and raise awareness about its needs — it also focuses on faith, justice and culture, said Elias D'eis, project manager for the festival.

Workshops and panels such as nonviolence and nonlinear leadership were part of the festival schedule. An art gallery exhibited works by local artists, and an open-mic cafe allowed young local artists and performers to be seen and heard. Eight international bands were to perform on nights of the festival.

D’eis said Bethlehem Live aims to empower local small nongovernmental organizations, artists, youth and community committees to take action in defining their future and addressing some topics that affect them daily but also relate to the global community. The project was initiated in 2013 by the Holy Land Trust, a nonprofit peacebuilding organization in Bethlehem.

There are more than 128 closed shops on Star Street because tourists are not coming here,” D’eis said. “Our responsibility as a community organization is to work for the future, to help the community remember this is their city and to show them their social responsibility.”

Read more.



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23 June 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




A woman who fled fighting in Sloviansk, Ukraine, cries while holding a child at a shelter in the town of Makiyivka in eastern Ukraine on 4 June. (photo: CNS/Maxim Zmeyev, Reuters)

Ukrainian Orthodox Church calls for end of violence in Ukraine (Pravmir) “The clergy and believers from these regions are asking for all possible measures to be taken to stop the bloodshed, which is hurting civilians. Our believers in the eastern part of the country think that any contradictions should be resolved through dialogue and negotiation. Our entire church believes that problems should be resolved peacefully. Together we should do everything to prevent the deaths of civilians,” the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church said in its address to President Petro Poroshenko, which was posted on its official website…

Assyrians in U.S. rally for Assyrians in Iraq (AINA) Assyrians in the United States held demonstrations in three cities on Friday in support of Assyrians in Mosul, Iraq, and other areas that have fallen under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Mosul has been cleared of Assyrians and other Christians, as they fled the city after the onslaught of ISIS. Demonstrations were held in Chicago, home to 90,000 Assyrians; San Jose, home to 50,000 Assyrians; and Turlock, home to 15,000 Assyrians…

E.U. warns of Iraqi humanitarian crisis (Daily Star Lebanon) The European Union warned Monday of a looming humanitarian crisis in Iraq as Sunni militias advance towards Baghdad, and warned of the danger to regional stability of foreign fighters from Syria. There are reports that some fighters from the E.U. are already in Iraq…

Syrian rebels recruiting teens, says rights group (Vatican Radio) Syrian rebel factions have recruited teenagers as young as 15 years old to fight in the country’s civil war, using them in roles ranging from soldiers and snipers to stretcher bearers and suicide bombers, a rights group said on Monday. Human Rights Watch said rebel groups across the ideological spectrum have employed children in the conflict, including the Western-backed Free Syrian Army, the Islamic Front, the Al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front as well as the Al Qaeda breakaway Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant…

The strong female voice of Hamas (Der Spiegel) Isra al Mudallal is the outspoken, strong-willed new spokesperson for the Hamas government in Gaza. Her goal is to become a role model for young girls — but first she has to overcome the region’s conservative traditions…

Egypt sentences Al Jazeera journalists to years in prison (Al Jazeera) An Egyptian court has sentenced two Al Jazeera journalists to seven years in prison and another to 10 years, on charges including aiding the Muslim Brotherhood and reporting false news. Al Jazeera has always rejected the charges against its journalists and maintains their innocence…



Tags: Syrian Civil War Children Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank Women
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20 June 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




An icon by Ian Knowles, written directly on concrete, adorns one of the segments of the Israeli separation wall near the Rachel’s Tomb checkpoint in Bethlehem. Read more about Prayers in Paint in the Summer issue of ONE. (photo: Tanya Habjouqa)



Tags: Palestine Bethlehem Art Icons Separation Barrier
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20 June 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




A woman walks past the site of a car bomb attack on 18 June 18 in Baghdad, Iraq. At least 13 people were killed and 30 others wounded in a car bomb explosion in Baghdad’s mainly Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City, according to police and hospital officials. (photo: CNS/Wissm al Okili, Reuters)

Caritas Iraq: Many Baghdad families fled fearing civil war (Vatican Radio) Nabil Nissan, executive director of Caritas Iraq, says that many of Baghdad’s inhabitants have fled the city for the Kurdish enclave in the north or other areas of Iraq because “they fear a civil war.” He said Caritas Iraq is mobilizing its resources to help care for the tens of thousands of displaced people, including Christians, who were forced to flee their homes in the northern city of Mosul after it fell to the ISIS militants…

Fuel shortages and power cuts dominate ISIS-controlled Mosul (Financial Times) Fuel shortages and power outages are putting pressure on the Islamist insurgents who last week seized control of Iraq’s second-largest city. The reports suggest Isis is either keeping a loose grip to maintain public good will or, as several residents described, has handed over control of the city, at least temporarily, to nationalist Sunni insurgent groups with a different social vision while the hardline group fights for control of other cities and the crucial nearby oil refinery at Baiji. “There is no Isis in Mosul. The ones controlling city are now the clans” or tribal armed groups, said a 58-year-old Mosul travel agency employee. “There are 12 different armed groups, but the power is with the tribes…”

Aleppo fears new ISIS offensive (Al Monitor) The spectacular and shocking offensive in Iraq by ISIS that has seen the extremist terror group take large areas in the west of the country, including its second largest city, Mosul, has the entire region and the world rightly worried. ISIS is said to boast an army of 10,000 fierce fighters, more than $2 billion in assets and huge caches of weapons and equipment seized from the Iraqi army, making it a serious threat to global security. Rebels holed up in Aleppo worry that ISIS’ newfound power and advanced military hardware in Iraq will result in a renewed offensive on Aleppo…

Lebanon car bomb attack kills two, shatters months of relative calm (Los Angeles Times) A suicide car bomb that may have targeted Lebanon’s internal security chief exploded Friday on the Beirut-Damascus highway, killing at least two people and wounding dozens, according to official and media accounts. It was the first such attack after several months of relative calm in Lebanon and raised fears that the sectarian-fueled violence that has lately erupted in Iraq could be reverberating in this vulnerable Middle Eastern nation. Lebanon has long experienced episodes of spillover violence from the war in neighboring Syria…

Lebanon roads locked down over security fears (Daily Star Lebanon) After the news of the bombing spread around the country, security forces took extreme measures in closing off all major roads in the country, fearing further attacks…

Israel seizes political, military opportunity in teens’ disappearance (Electronic Intifada) Since three Israeli youths went missing while hitchhiking in the occupied West Bank on 12 June, Israel has mobilized all its resources “to crush Hamas in the West Bank and destroy the recently formed unity government as well as collectively punish the Palestinian people,” said the rights group Addameer in a fact sheet issued today on Israel’s ongoing West Bank military assault and the Palestinian hunger strike long underway in Israeli prisons…

U.N. says global population of displaced tops 50 million (U.N. News Center) World Refugee Day marks yet another somber milestone in a year of crisis. A new U.N. report reveals that the number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people has, for the first time in the post-World War II era, exceeded 50 million people…



Tags: Syrian Civil War Iraq War Israeli-Palestinian conflict United Nations
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19 June 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this photo from 2009, two years before Syria’s civil war, youth in Aleppo participate in a dance workshop hosted by an organization that uses sports to bridge sectarian divides. To learn more about this scene, read Lebanon’s Urban Youth, from the July 2010 issue of ONE. (photo: Spencer Osberg)



Tags: Lebanon Unity Art Dialogue Youth
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19 June 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




As Islamist militants battle Iraqi security forces for control of towns and cities not far from Baghdad, the capital has taken on the tense feel of a city under siege. (video: CNN)

Assyrians and Christians under attack in Iraq and Syria (AINA) With extremists battling for control of Iraq’s largest oilfield on Tuesday, raising the stakes in a burgeoning war against the central government in Baghdad, Iraq’s Christians once again find themselves at risk. Over the past 10 days, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a fundamentalist Islamist group, has streamed across the Nineveh plains of northern Iraq from its bases in eastern Syria, capturing a line of towns and cities, including several with large Assyrian and Chaldean Christian populations…

Black flags fly over Iraqi refinery, as U.S. weighs cooperation with Iran (Al Jazeera) ISIL fighters, who want to carve out an Islamic caliphate stretching across Iraq and Syria, have reportedly made progress at Iraq’s largest oil refinery. The rebels hung their black banners on watchtowers at the Baiji refinery, 150 miles north of Baghdad, a witness said Thursday, though a top Iraqi security official said the government still held the facility…

Ukrainian Catholic leader appeals for Christian reconciliation (AsiaNews.it) Against the backdrop of the Ukrainian crisis, tensions are getting worse between local Catholics and the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow, which continues to denounce the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine for its alleged involvement with Western policy vis-à-vis Russia. In making an appeal for reconciliation, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk hopes Moscow will recognize the dignity of the Ukrainian people and open a sincere dialogue based on truth…

United Nations: ‘Climate of fear’ grips eastern Ukraine (U.N. News Center) With United Nations monitors reporting today that armed separatists have used killings, abductions and torture to instill a “climate of intimidation and fear” in eastern Ukraine, the world body’s human rights chief urged all armed groups to put down their weapons, end the violence and begin the process of long-term reconciliation…

Syrian refugees in Turkey exceed 1 million mark (The Guardian) The number of Syrians in neighboring Turkey has surpassed 1 million, the Turkish deputy prime minister has said. There are more than 20 refugee camps in Turkey near the roughly 500-mile border with Syria housing more than 220,000 people. But the bulk of people who have crossed the border are living in Turkish cities, mostly in the provinces of Hatay, Gaziantep and Sanliurfa. They have taken advantage of the “open border” policy maintained by Turkey, a staunch opponent of the regime in Damascus, towards Syrian refugees…



Tags: Iraq Refugees Ukraine Iraqi Christians United Nations
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18 June 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




A pilgrim prays in the Church of Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Recently, pilgrims to this holy site included Pope Francis, who used his visit as an opportunity to invite the presidents of Israel and Palestine, Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas, to participate in a subsequent “invocation for peace” at the Vatican. (photo: Paul Souders)



Tags: Pope Francis Jerusalem Israeli-Palestinian conflict Pilgrimage/pilgrims Church of the Holy Sepulchre
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18 June 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Iraqi refugees are seen in a camp near the northern city of Erbil on 12 June. Hundreds of thousands of people who have fled their homes in Mosul are left without access to aid, officials said. Christians from the city say they were targeted long before Iraqi security forces abandoned the major political and economic hub. (photo: CNS/Stringer, EPA)

Pope Francis appeals for concrete help for refugees (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis appealed to institutions to offer concrete help to the hundreds of thousands of refugees who continue to flee conflict and persecution in their homelands…

A country implodes: ISIS pushes Iraq to the brink (Der Spiegel) The militant organization known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has occupied vast portions of Syria and Iraq in the hopes of establishing a caliphate. The jihadists’ success lays bare Iraq’s disintegration and could ignite yet another civil war between Shiites and Sunnis in the country…

Chaldean archbishop of Mosul: Armed intervention does not solve problems (Fides) “In the villages in the Nineveh plain that accommodated part of the population fleeing from Mosul, the situation is worsening day by day. There has been no water and electricity for two days. Fuel is beginning to run out. And last night, a part of Mosul was bombed, causing a new exodus of civilians,” said Chaldean Archbishop Amel Shamon Nona of Mosul…

ISIS and government forces battle for control of Iraq’s largest oil refinery (Christian Science Monitor) Iraq’s largest oil refinery is under attack by Islamic militants northwest of Baghdad, threatening domestic oil and electricity supplies and signaling the rapid acceleration of the group’s offensive against Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s Shiite government…

Ukraine president announces ‘unilateral’ cease-fire plan (Los Angeles Times) Ukraine’s president said Wednesday that government forces will unilaterally cease fire to allow pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country a chance to lay down weapons or leave the country, a potential major development to bring peace to the country…

Syria conflict: Toxic chemicals ‘used systematically’ in attacks (BBC) A team from the world’s chemical weapons watchdog believes toxic chemicals such as chlorine are being used in a “systematic manner” in Syria. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons sent a fact-finding mission to the country’s north last month to investigate several incidents. The inspectors’ preliminary report says information was gathered that seemed to corroborate the testimony of medics…

Palestinians freed in 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner-swap back in custody (The Guardian) More than 50 Palestinians released in 2011 as part a high-profile deal to free Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit are back in custody after they were arrested during Israeli military operations to locate three missing teenagers. The overnight arrests — 65 in total — bring the number of Palestinians detained during the military campaign to locate the teenagers to 240, the Israeli Defense Forces confirmed on Wednesday. Gilad Shalit was an Israeli soldier captured in Gaza by Hamas in 2006 and held for five years before being traded for the release of 1,027 Palestinians…



Tags: Syrian Civil War Iraq Refugees Ukraine Iraqi Refugees
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17 June 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Students gather in front of St. John’s Lower Primary School, where Archbishop Joseph Kundukulam had his early education. To read about the late archbishop’s many humanitarian initiatives, which continue to provide stability and care to their communities and change lives in India, read Remembering India’s “Father of the Poor,” from the Spring 2014 issue of ONE. (photo: Jose Jacob)



Tags: India Poor/Poverty Indian Christians Indian Bishops
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17 June 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Claiming it owes $4.5 billion in unpaid bills, Russia has cut off Ukraine from its gas supply. Ukraine’s prime minister claims the move is intended to destabilize Ukraine. Kim Vinnell reports. (video: Al Jazeera)

Russia halts gas supplies to Ukraine amid clashes (Vatican Radio) Ukraine says neighboring Russia has cut off all natural gas supplies to Kiev, in a major escalation of a dispute over outstanding debt between the two nations. The latest standoff comes after Moscow also expressed anger over a crackdown by Ukrainian government forces on pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s troubled east…

The Ecumenical Laboratory of Ukraine (Catholic World Report) In this interview with the Catholic World Report, Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, who led the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church from 2001 until his retirement in 2011, offers his characteristically candid insight into the role of the church in Ukraine’s Maidan movement, the question of ecumenism in Ukraine, and the oftentimes complex relationship between the Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches…

Iraq’s fleeing Christians find safe haven in Kurdistan (France24) Mosul, in northern Iraq, had a substantial Christian population of around 10,000 until Sunni Islamist militants belonging to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria took the city in their lightning offensive last week. Most of them have fled, seeking refuge in nearby Kurdistan, an autonomous Kurdish territory where they feel protected from the hardline Sunni fighters by the local army…

Iraq conflict: Clashes on approaches to Baghdad (BBC) Iraqi government forces are engaged in heavy clashes with Sunni insurgents who have made major advances in the past week. Parts of the city of Baquba — just 37 miles from Baghdad — were briefly taken over by the rebels. Reports say 44 prisoners were killed during fighting at a police station in the city…

Israel considering expelling Hamas leaders from West Bank (The Guardian) Israel is considering expelling Hamas leaders from the West Bank to Gaza as part of its response to the kidnapping of three teenagers, which it has blamed on the Islamist group. The deliberations come as Israel continued to round up members of Hamas in six West Bank towns for the third night running, including senior Palestinian lawmakers, in one of the biggest waves of arrests in recent years…



Tags: Iraq Ukraine Iraqi Christians War Israeli-Palestinian conflict
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