Richard Melson

April 2006


Sabeel is an ecumenical grassroots liberation theology movement among Palestinian Christians. Inspired by the life and teaching of Jesus Christ, this liberation theology seeks to deepen the faith of Palestinian Christians, promote unity among them, and lead them to social action.

Sabeel Snapshots

April 2006

Spring is flying by, interspersed with unexpected heavy rains and mixed with accelerating new disturbing facts on the ground. Amidst it all - Israeli elections, completion of 87% of the separation wall around Jerusalem, a continuous flow of visitors and pilgrims, and progress on two Sabeel International Conferences - the busy bees at Sabeel diligently pursue their ministry.


for current information regarding our two upcoming conferences:

First International Young Adult Conference, Together: Facing Challenges…Finding Hope,

July 26 – August 6, 2006 and

6th International Sabeel Conference, The Forgotten Faithful: A Window into the Life and Witness of Christians in the Holy Land,

November 2-9, 2006.

Conversation with Marc Ellis - American Jewish theologian and author Marc Ellis joined Sabeel for a sobering and thought-provoking event on March 20, 2006. Professor Ellis presented his comments and led discussion on the current and future situation in Palestine and Israel.

Book Launch – On March 22, just two days after the Conversation with Marc Ellis, Sabeel launched its new book, Challenging Christian Zionism: Theology, Politics and the Israel-Palestine Conflict, together with Atallah Mansour's Narrow Gate Churches: The Christian Presence in the Holy Land Under Muslim and Jewish Rule, and Fuad Farah's The Living Stones: Christian Arabs in the Holy Land. After the Rev. Chris Ferguson, WCC Representative, introduced Challenging Christian Zionism, Salim Munayer spoke about Narrow Gate Churches, and Adel Abdelnour, The Living Stones.

Challenging Christian Zionism is a compilation of addresses given at Sabeel's 5th International Conference in 2004. and is available at the Sabeel office, from Friends of Sabeel North America, or from Friends of Sabeel United Kingdom, or online at or (US).


Led by the Good Shepherd - As Sabeel staff continue to be involved in civil society programs organized by other partner institutions, mainly lectures and meetings, Sabeel's own very popular family program, "The Open Forum," is attracting larger Christian crowds. On March 28, Naim Ateek, just back from a six-week tour around the globe, reminded the audience of the need for inner change and transformation, for all individuals, especially during Lent. In the first of a series of three lectures, the audience looked at the scripture reading, The Good Shepherd (John 10:11ff) and discussed the features, responsibilities, failures and expectations of the flock- the congregation. The next session will look at the responsibility of the pastor/shepherd, and the third meeting will allow for both congregations and shepherds to find ways of better understanding and cooperation as true witnesses to Christ. Change will then come, by the grace of God, through good will.


Mothers and Teenagers - On March 16, teenagers and their mothers gathered at Sabeel to celebrate Mother's Day. They discussed their relationships, the importance of Mother's Day, and what Mother's Day means for them, before enjoying dinner together.

Paradise Now from a Christian PerspectiveYoung adults met at a local restaurant to watch the Oscar-nominated, Palestinian film Paradise Now on March 24. In response to the film, Rev. Naim led a discussion on suicide bombing and other forms of resistance to the occupation, from a Christian perspective. In light of all that they are going through because of the conflict, including checkpoints, unemployment, and humiliation, these young adults voiced their strong need for a just peace but that they do not believe violent resistance is the way to achieve peace. All are in favor of nonviolent resistance to the occupation.


For Sabeel, the month of March was an opportunity to further introduce our work and strengthen friendships with our international visitors. We discussed with visitors Palestinian liberation theology, the indigenous Christian community living under occupation, and political changes in the region, including recent Palestinian and Israeli elections and the Jericho jail-raid incident, as well as current Sabeel programs.

Sabeel would like to thank its visitors, individuals and groups, for their time and support: Swedish Alliance Mission, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD – UK), Norwegian Church Aid, the Methodist Church (UK), the Welsingham Anniversary Pilgrimage group from the UK, and Rev. Lee & Caroline Welkley's group from across the US.

On March 29, Rev. Naim met with 15 deans of the Vxjo Diocese of Sweden under the auspices of the Swedish Theological Institute. In his presentation, Rev. Naim discussed the history, theology, and current implications of Christian Zionism in Palestine and Israel.

JAI/Witness Visit – From March 12-19, Sabeel joined with Joint Advocacy Initiative of the YM/YWCA of Palestine in hosting a Church Action for Peace, a week of advocacy and witness visits that was part of the World Council of Churches International Advocacy Week. The group of 46, representing eight countries, traveled throughout the holy land to witness the injustice of the occupation and the ongoing discrimination and daily difficulties of the Palestinian people.

Members of the Sabeel-Nazareth committee met with pilgrims at St. Gabriel hotel to discuss the situation of the Palestinans Christians in Israel, and Fuad Farah led the group on a tour of Nazareth including the Orthodox and Catholic Churches of the Annunciation. They proceeded to Mjeidel to visit the Franciscan Latin convent and church, the only remaining witness of once a large Palestinian village.


Young Adults Gathering – 13 young adults gathered at the Sabeel-Nazareth office on March 17. With great enthusiasm, the young people decided to continue with monthly meetings and organize day-long trips, visits and tours and weekend retreats and study trips. The young adults expressed great interest in developing a speakers training program. They also evaluated their preparation for the Knesset elections of March 28. The young adults continue to look forward to Sabeel's First International Young Adults Conference, Together: Facing Challenges … Finding Hope, to be held July 26 – August 6, 2006.

Happy Mother's Day! - A Mother's Day group of 45 women celebrated this day together on March 24 by taking a tour of Nazareth Village, including readings and meditations on the Gospel. The day event ended with a discussion from Sister Elena, of the Little Sisters of Nazareth Convent, comparing the living conditions between Palestinians in Israel and in the Occupied Territories.

Welcome Visitors! - On March 8, the Sabeel-Nazareth Committee and friends were happy to welcome visitors from the United Methodist Church (US), led by Janet Lahr Lewis of the Sabeel-Jerusalem office. We discussed with the visitors the situation confronting Christians and all Arab Palestinians living in Israel.

Fund-raising - The Nazareth Committee met in March to discuss the possibility of organizing a fundraising event. Look for more information as our plans unfold!

IFOS Snapshots

This month: Friends of Sabeel—United Kingdom

Friends of Sabeel UK members have been active in the last six months, starting with the IFOS meeting in Toronto at the end of October, which gave us the opportunity to meet our opposite numbers and hear their news, and news from Jerusalem. We then moved on to the International Conference on Morally Responsible Investment, also in Toronto. This was a good conference, which ended with a final, non-negotiable position: freedom from occupation, equal rights for all under international law, and a call for a program of economic response. Members of FOS-UK have been heavily involved, from an interfaith perspective, in the movement for morally responsible investment in the UK, and on March 3, we were successful in obtaining a vote in General Synod of the Church of England, in favor of asking the Church of England to sell its shares in Caterpillar, as a first step in the campaign

Our own conference in November, "What is Truth?"- the first conference organized by FOS-UK – closely followed the Toronto conference. The main speakers were Rev. Naim Ateek and Dr. Karen Abi-Ezzi of the Department of Peace Studies at Bradford University. It was rated a great success by those who attended, and there were calls for a repeat, if not annually, then biennially. It gave us a good opportunity to meet some of our members and speak to them face-to-face.

Our next event is our Annual General Meeting on April 8 in London, at which the main speaker is Dr. M. Hassassian, the new Palestinian Delegate General to the UK. Highlights of the Meeting will include Stephen Sizer's presentation on morally responsible investment, a showing of Deir Yassin Remembered, Part 1 of Palestinian Trilogy by B.H. Yael, and the launching of Challenging Christian Zionism, the conference proceedings of the 5th International Sabeel Conference in 2004, which is already selling well.

- Jennifer Oldershaw


Attachment: SabeelsnapshotsApril06.doc (1.82 MB)


Thursday, April 20, 2006