Posted by Kendall Harmon

“You can't look at the pictures coming from Gaza and Israel without your heart breaking. We must cry to God and beat down the doors of heaven and pray for peace and justice and security. Only a costly and open-hearted seeking of peace between Israeli and Palestinian can protect innocent people, their children and grand children, from ever worse violence.

“My utmost admiration is for all those involved in the humanitarian efforts on the ground, not least the medical team and staff at Al Ahli Arab Hospital. Providing relief and shelter for those displaced is a tangible expression of our care and concern, and I encourage Church of England parishes and dioceses, as well as the wider Communion, to pray for them and support the Diocese of Jerusalem's emergency appeal.

“While humanitarian relief for those civilians most affected is a priority, especially women and children, we must also recognise that this conflict underlines the importance of renewing a commitment to political dialogue in the wider search for peace and security for both Israeli and Palestinian. The destructive cycle of violence has caused untold suffering and threatens the security of all...."

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 30, 2014 at 7:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While more than 200 thousand Palestinians have fled Gaza since the war began, and more being added daily, some remain in resistance. Among them is Fr George Hernandez, pastor of the Catholics in Gaza, at Holy Family Church in Zeitun, where he stays to care for his flock while bombs continue to fly overhead and land too close to home.

Fr. Hernandez spoke to Vatican Radio where he described the situation on the ground and how the war has struck the Catholic community:

“Unfortunately, the resistance movement is situated near houses and in the streets. For us, this was a problem yesterday. At a certain point, we could not leave the house. Then the bombs fell. One house near the church was hit and there have been some major damage to our rectory and parish school”.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 30, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Palestinian and Israeli casualties are mounting at a pace that could surpass any other Israeli conflict in nearly a decade, amid signs of a deepening military and political stalemate driven by diplomatic gridlock, Palestinian militant resilience and the absence of a clear Israeli exit strategy.

The rising death toll in the Gaza Strip conflict propelled U.S. and European diplomats huddled in Paris to call for an extension of a 12-hour humanitarian truce Saturday that had afforded both sides a brief respite from the nearly three-week-old conflict.

Late Saturday, Israel approved a 24-hour extension of the truce but said it would retaliate if Hamas prevented its forces from continuing to destroy tunnel networks through which the militants have attempted to infiltrate Israel. Hamas fighters, though, resumed firing rockets and mortar rounds into Israel.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

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Posted July 27, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With safe passage promised by a 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire, residents of the areas hardest hit in Gaza fighting returned to their homes on Saturday. They could not believe what they saw.

Many roads were barely passable, and almost quiet. Women did not wail. The men looked stunned. Their neighborhoods were reduced to ugly piles of gray dust, shattered cement block and twisted rebar.

Huge bomb craters marked the spot where on Friday four-story apartment blocks stood. On some streets, it seemed as if every house was either riddled with bullet holes or shrapnel spray, charred by flames, or leveled.

The scale of the damage from Israeli airstrikes and artillery fire was the worst seen in 19 days. Much of the damage witnessed Saturday occurred in the past 24 to 48 hours, as diplomats debated the terms of a possible truce.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 26, 2014 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Militant rockets can be seen launching from crowded neighborhoods, near apartment buildings, schools and hotels. Hamas fighters have set traps for Israeli soldiers in civilian homes and stored weapons in mosques and schools. Tunnels have been dug beneath private property.

With international condemnation rising over the death toll in Gaza exceeding 650 in the war’s 16th day, Israel points to its adversaries’ practice of embedding forces throughout the crowded, impoverished coastal enclave of 1.7 million people.

“Hamas uses schools, residential buildings, mosques and hospitals to fire rockets at Israeli civilians,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his Canadian counterpart in a call over the weekend, according to a statement from Mr. Netanyahu’s office. “Hamas uses innocent civilians as a human shield for terrorist activity.”

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 24, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Seventy Palestinians were killed Sunday in a heavy bombardment of a Gaza neighborhood and 13 Israeli soldiers were slain in the most intense day of fighting in Israel’s current offensive against Hamas fighters, officials said. The Hamas military also announced that its fighters had captured an Israeli soldier.

Abu Obaida, a spokesman for the Al Qassam Brigades, appeared on Hamas TV to announce the soldier had been taken prisoner. Minutes later, there were fireworks and shouts of “God is great!” from loud speakers.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said the army was investigating the claim.

Read it all and join in as we continue to pray for peace.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 20, 2014 at 4:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...now, things have changed. Some may point to the pressure Netanyahu was facing from his own cabinet. Only days into the recent round of fighting, Netanyahu’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, announced that his Yisrael Beitenu faction would end its partnership with Netanyahu’s Likud party, a partnership that had guaranteed Netanyahu the largest party in the Israeli coalition. Lieberman cited “essential differences” with Netanyahu over the latter’s overly restrained response to Hamas’ rocketfire. And just yesterday, Netanyahu fired his incendiary deputy defense minister, Danny Dannon, over his unrelenting criticism of the Israeli government’s handling of the current campaign—particularly its acceptance of a ceasefire proposed by Egypt. (The ceasefire, unfortunately, was rejected by Hamas.)

But the more likely explanation is that Israel just didn’t have any other options. Israel could have continued its aerial and artillery exchanges with Hamas, but this campaign did not appear to be damaging either the will or the capability of Hamas. It could have loosened its rules of engagement and struck Hamas more effectively—but doing so would have inflicted unconscionably disproportionate civilian damage. It could have capitulated to Hamas’s ultimatums to release hundreds of security prisoners and reopened Gaza to shipments of arms- and tunnel-making materials. Apart from the moral implications of such a concession, doing so would simply have strengthened Hamas and ensured additional fighting. An extended cease-fire would be ideal. But so far, Egyptian attempts to broker such a cease-fire seem to have fallen on deaf ears. So Netanyahu was left with a choice that wasn’t really much of a choice.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 18, 2014 at 5:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

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Posted July 17, 2014 at 5:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Egypt has proposed a ceasefire to end a week of cross-border fire between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

The initiative, announced by the foreign ministry, urges a ceasefire starting on Tuesday morning followed by a series of meetings in Cairo with high-level delegations from both sides.

It comes ahead of an urgent meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgyptIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 14, 2014 at 3:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Up to 20 people have been killed in the deadliest night of Israeli air raids on Gaza since its current offensive began, Palestinian officials say.

The health ministry said most died in attacks on a house and a cafe in Khan Younis in the south, bringing the overall death toll to 76.

Militants in Gaza continued firing rockets into Israel on Thursday, with sirens sounding over southern towns.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned the situation was "on a knife-edge".

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

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Posted July 10, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the wake of the brutal murder of Arab teenager Muhammad Abu Khdeir in Jerusalem, allegedly committed by Jewish extremists, Israeli politicians, pundits and even former terror victims have expressed their shock and outrage at the killing. And so have some of the Jewish state’s most prominent rabbis. At a meeting of the Chief Rabbinate Council yesterday, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau condemned the crime, saying bluntly, “This is not the way of the Torah.” Lau’s counterpart, Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, planned a personal visit to the Khdeir family, where he said he wished “to fiercely denounce the outrageous murder that was perpetrated against the innocent young man.” The visit was cancelled due to security concerns over his safety, and so Yosef released a public statement calling his fellow clergy to account: “We as religious leaders need to lead forward with a conciliatory message in order to prevent continued pain and bereavement, so that no one else is harmed.”

Other rabbis have answered this call. Rabbi Amnon Bazak of Yeshivat Har Etzion–a school located where three Jewish teenagers were kidnapped and murdered earlier this month–wrote on Facebook that “It is incumbent upon the religious Zionist world to draw a clear red line, especially for the youth, and say: no more! The Torah of Israel and any understanding of the cruel murder of an innocent boy are an utter contradiction that cannot be countenanced in any way.” Noting that some had attempted to justify the killing, Bazak said that “the religious community must remove these individuals once and for all from the legitimate discourse.”

Rabbi Dr. Benny Lau of Beit Morasha and the Israel Democracy Institute also spoke out forcefully against the murder and called on Israelis to grapple with the hate that led to it.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 8, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a darkened living room in the Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City, a gray-haired militia commander picked up his phone Friday to read a text message from one of his colleagues on the battlefield.

“Captured six ISIS members in an ambush,” it said, referring to militants from Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, an al-Qaeda splinter group whose advance over the past 10 days has nearly brought the Iraqi state to its knees. “At dawn I killed two, four I gave to the army.”

The message was an example of what members of Iraq’s Shiite militias describe as growing cooperation with the country’s army. As Iraq spirals into chaos, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is now relying on the militias, which once carried out hundreds of attacks on U.S. soldiers, to help him cling to power.

The lines between Shiite militias and the Iraqi armed forces have been increasingly blurred since the withdrawal of U.S. troops in 2011.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraqIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted June 21, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After passionate debate over how best to help break the deadlock between Israel and the Palestinians, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted on Friday at its general convention to divest from three companies that it says supply Israel with equipment used in the occupation of Palestinian territory.

The vote, by a count of 310 to 303, was watched closely in Washington and Jerusalem and by Palestinians as a sign of momentum for a movement to pressure Israel to stop building settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and end the occupation, with a campaign known as B.D.S., for Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock Market* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 20, 2014 at 9:07 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pope Francis delivered a powerful boost of support to the Palestinians during a Holy Land pilgrimage Sunday, repeatedly backing their statehood aspirations, praying solemnly at Israel's controversial separation barrier and calling the stalemate in peace efforts "unacceptable."

In an unscripted move, Francis arranged a meeting between the Israeli and Palestinian presidents at the Vatican next month. The meeting, while largely symbolic, shows how the pope has sought to transform his immensely popular appeal into a moral force for peace.

On the second day of a three-day swing through the region, the pope arrived in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christianity, before heading to Israel for the final leg of his visit.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelJordanSyriaThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis

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Posted May 25, 2014 at 4:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Arriving here on Sunday, Pope Francis made an impassioned appeal for an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and gave the Palestinians an uncommon boost by openly endorsing “the State of Palestine.”

Francis called for “a stable peace based on justice, on the recognition of the rights of every individual, and on mutual security,” and for intensified efforts for the creation of two states — meaning a Palestinian state alongside Israel — within internationally recognized borders.

“In expressing my closeness to those who suffer most from this conflict, I wish to state my heartfelt conviction that the time has come to put an end to this situation, which has become increasingly unacceptable,” he said in remarks after a meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 25, 2014 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...At the start of Day Two of a Holy Land trip whose set plans were rich in symbolism – and one whose announced schedule was parsed to the core – while en route to the late-morning Mass at Bethlehem's Manger Square, the Pope suddenly halted his motorcade, stepped off the Jeep, and caused a chaotic moment as he waded through a crowd to stop and pray for several minutes at the barrier separating Israel and Palestine as an advocate for the latter blared their case over loudspeakers in English.

Read it all and make sure to watch the Vimeo video.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis

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Posted May 25, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Celebrating Mass on his first day in the Holy Land, Pope Francis said hope for peace in a region torn by sectarian conflicts comes from faith in God.

"The way of peace is strengthened if we realize that we are all of the same stock and members of one human family, if we never forget that we have the same heavenly father and are all his children, made in his image and likeness," the pope said May 24 in his homily at Amman's International Stadium.

"Diversity of ideas and persons should not trigger rejection or prove an obstacle, for variety always enriches," he told the congregation of some 30,000 people. "We ought, therefore, to show concrete signs of humility, fraternity, forgiveness and reconciliation.

"Peace is not something which can be bought," the pope said. "It is a gift to be sought patiently and to be crafted through the actions, great and small, of our everyday lives."

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelJordanSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis Other FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relationsJudaism

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Posted May 24, 2014 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nearly two-thirds of Christians in Jerusalem and the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem said in a survey that they would emigrate if given a chance, Bethlehem University sociologist Bernard Sabella found.

Sabella, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, said he was shocked that 62 percent of Christians indicated they would like to leave.

A similar survey in 2007 reported that only 26 percent of respondents said they wanted to exit the area.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther Churches

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Posted May 24, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all and You can watch live TV here if you so desire also. Note that there is a link to the program as well.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelJordanSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis

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Posted May 24, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pope Francis’ visit Saturday to Jordan, the first stop on his three day pilgrimage to the Holy Land, comes at one of the most challenging and difficult moments of our lifetime: that’s according to the President of one leading U.S. university who says he’s hopeful the pontiff’s visit to the region will encourage peace there.

President of Jesuit-run Georgetown University Dr. John DeGioia will be in Amman for the Pope’s arrival. Jordan’s King Abdullah has long been “exceptionally” supportive of interfaith dialogue, says DeGioia, whose university runs a renowned center for interreligious dialogue.

King Abdullah has been “a global leader in fostering interreligious dialogue and Jordan as a country has provided a number of leaders who have ensured the significance of interreligious dialogue in our public discourse,” DeGioia explains.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis

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Posted May 24, 2014 at 7:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pope Francis travels this weekend to the Middle East, the cradle of the three monotheistic religions, and will meet with Catholic, Jewish and Muslim leaders.

But the official purpose of the visit is to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic rapprochement between Catholics and Orthodox and to try to restore Christian unity after nearly 1,000 years of estrangement.

Meeting in Jerusalem in 1964, Pope Paul VI and Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras set a milestone: They started the process of healing the schism between Eastern and Western Christianity of the year 1054.

Moves toward closer understanding followed, but differences remain on issues such as married clergy and the centralized power of the Vatican.

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOrthodox ChurchRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEcclesiology

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Posted May 22, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians believe that Jesus was immersed in the waters of the Jordan River by John the Baptist, who wore a cloak of camel’s hair and lived on locusts and honey in the desert wilderness.

But the Gospels are not precise about which side of the river the baptism took place on — the east bank or the west.

Although it might not matter much to a half-million annual visitors who come to the river for sightseeing or a renewal of faith, it matters very much to tourism officials in Israel and Jordan, who maintain dueling baptism sites, one smack-dab across from the other, with the shallow, narrow, muddy stream serving as international boundary.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelJordan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis Other FaithsIslamJudaism* TheologySacramental TheologyBaptism

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Posted May 21, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians in the Holy Land are commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in Good Friday prayers and processions through Jerusalem's Old City.

Thousands of Christian pilgrims filled the cobblestone alleyways of the Old City on Friday along the Via Dolorosa, Latin for the "Way of Suffering."

Read it all and enjoy the picture.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly WeekLiturgy, Music, WorshipSpirituality/Prayer* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches

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Posted April 18, 2014 at 6:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After years of heated public debate and political wrangling, Israel’s Parliament on Wednesday approved landmark legislation that will eventually eliminate exemptions from compulsory military service for many ultra-Orthodox students enrolled in seminaries.

The issue has become a social and political lightning rod in a country where most Jewish 18-year-olds are subjected to compulsory military service for up to three years. Many Israelis, who see conscription as part of a deeper culture war between the secular and modern Orthodox Jews and the ultra-Orthodox, have been demanding a more equitable sharing of the responsibilities of citizenship and voted in last year’s elections on that basis.

Yair Lapid, the leader of the centrist Yesh Atid, one of the parties that promoted the new legislation in the governing coalition, wrote on his Facebook page soon after the vote, “To the 543,458 citizens of Israel who elected Yesh Atid: Today you have passed the equal sharing of the burden.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

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Posted March 16, 2014 at 11:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The meeting in Jerusalem this week was called in a sense of urgency that a false gospel has so paralysed the Anglican Communion that this crisis must be addressed. The chief threat of this dispute involves the compromising of the integrity of the church’s worldwide mission. The primary reason we have come to Jerusalem and issued this declaration is to free our churches to give clear and certain witness to Jesus Christ.

It is our hope that this Statement on the Global Anglican Future will be received with comfort and joy by many Anglicans around the world who have been distressed about the direction of the Communion. We believe the Anglican Communion should and will be reformed around the biblical gospel and mandate to go into all the world and present Christ to the nations.
--From the final text on which i will be giving a presentation later today

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Global South Churches & PrimatesGAFCON I 2008Instruments of UnitySexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeMissions* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted March 14, 2014 at 9:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Franck Darmon is only 35, but he already knows where his bones will lie. Not in his native France, but in Israel.

“When you compare a cemetery in Israel — with the blue sky, the sun and all the white tombstones — to a cemetery in France with the gray surroundings, it’s very distressing,” Darmon said. “The soul doesn’t have the same type of rest.”

Darmon is not the only French Jew reaching this conclusion, and not just because of the weather. France may have Europe’s largest Jewish population, but many don’t want to stay here for eternity.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeFranceMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEschatologyPastoral Theology

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Posted March 12, 2014 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A bus full of South Korean Christians who saved money for years in order to visit biblical sites in Egypt and Israel were attacked Sunday by a suicide bomber.

Four people were killed in the bombing, including the Egyptian driver, a church member, and two South Korean guides. At least 14 others were injured, the Associated Press reports.

This is not the first time South Korean Christians have been the target of violence in a foreign country. In 2007, after a 43-day hostage situation left two South Korean missionaries dead in Afghanistan, South Korea subsequently banned citizens from traveling to certain majority-Muslim countries—which proved to be a blessing in disguise for Korean Christians.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaSouth KoreaMiddle EastEgyptIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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Posted February 18, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As Christmas neared, an 85-foot-high tree presided over the little square in front of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth. Kindergarten children with Santa Claus hats entered the church and listened to their teacher explain in Arabic the Greek inscriptions on the walls, while a group of Russian pilgrims knelt on their knees and whispered in prayer. In Nazareth's old city, merchants sold the usual array of Christmas wares.

This year, however, the familiar rhythms of Christmas season in the Holy Land have been disturbed by a new development: the rise of an independent voice for Israel's Christian community, which is increasingly trying to assert its separate identity. For decades, Arab Christians were considered part of Israel's sizable Palestinian minority, which comprises both Muslims and Christians and makes up about a fifth of the country's citizens, according to the Israeli government.

But now, an informal grass-roots movement, prompted in part by the persecution of Christians elsewhere in the region since the Arab Spring, wants to cooperate more closely with Israeli Jewish society—which could mean a historic change in attitude toward the Jewish state. "Israel is my country, and I want to defend it," says Henry Zaher, an 18-year-old Christian from the village of Reineh who was visiting Nazareth. "The Jewish state is good for us."

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsJudaism

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Posted December 28, 2013 at 2:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Faith should be seen as an integral part of peace-making in the Middle East, said Israel’s ambassador to the United Kingdom in a unique presentation at the annual meeting of the Church of England’s highest legislative body.

“I no longer think the standard negotiator’s toolbox is wide, deep or rich enough to solve the most difficult disputes,” said Ambassador Daniel Taub on Wednesday afternoon, who offered his reflections on negotiating in the Middle East, and spoke about his emerging conviction about the role of faith in reconciliation.

“Faith and our faith texts offer untapped tools for transforming our dialogue.”

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsJudaism

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Posted November 22, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

‘I’m very optimistic about the future of cinema,” says Serge Toubiana, the director of the Cinematheque Francaise, sitting in the library at the Jerusalem Cinematheque.

Toubiana was in Israel last week, a guest of the Tel Aviv Cinematheque, currently celebrating its 40th anniversary.

While Toubiana’s formal title certainly sounds impressive enough to the casual observer, the fact is that Toubiana could be called the King of Cinema.

The Cinematheque Francaise is the mecca for film lovers worldwide.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMovies & Television* International News & CommentaryEuropeFranceMiddle EastIsrael

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Posted November 18, 2013 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For centuries – from Florence Nightingale to ER – the medical professionals who treated patients have been nurses and physicians.

Yet in a world with a dearth of such trained individuals, new professions in the healthcare system have emerged to attempt to fill the void. While the expansion of health professions in the US and other Western countries has been rapid, recognizing and welcoming nurse practitioners (NPs), physicians’ assistants (PAs) and nurse anesthetists (NAs) has been a very slow process, especially in a country like Israel whose union-oriented conservative medical establishment is not enamored of change.

The NP is Israel’s first new medical profession to be recognized by the Health Ministry, which organized a first, year-long course that turned 19 veteran nurses from around the country into recognized NPs.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHealth & MedicineHistory* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael

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Posted August 24, 2013 at 4:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Spiritual Nazism.” Those are the first words out of my rabbi’s mouth when I tell him I’m reporting on Messianic Judaism. To him, the prospect of Jews accepting a Christian salvation narrative, but still identifying as Jews, constitutes nothing short of the destruction of the spiritual life of a people.

But after nearly a year of studying and reporting on this phenomenon, I have my doubts about this dire indictment. Messianic Judaism, despite its promoters’ predictions, will not be radically changing Judaism anytime soon. It is, however, radically changing how Jews and evangelicals relate to one another and how evangelical, Pentecostal and charismatic Christians perceive Judaism, Jewish-Christian relations and the politics of the Middle East.

To some Jews, the growth of Messianic Judaism represents a mortal threat. There are an estimated 175,000 to 250,000 Messianic Jews in the United States, 350,000 worldwide, and 10,000 to 20,000 in Israel. This isn’t too dramatic, although it’s difficult to assess the future impact of new religious movements as they’re developing—who knew in the mid-19th century that the Mormon Church would be what it is today?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesEvangelicalsOther FaithsJudaism

2 Comments
Posted July 31, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Israel’s reported airstrikes in Syria — and the threat of a retaliatory strike by the Syrian government — are likely to accelerate the decision-making of the Obama administration, which was already moving toward a sharp escalation of U.S. involvement in the two-year-old crisis.

Senior officials said the deployment of U.S. troops to Syria remains unlikely, but they have indicated that a decision will come within weeks on options ranging from the supply of weapons to the Syrian rebels to the use of U.S. aircraft and missiles to ground President Bashar al-Assad’s air power by destroying planes, runways and missile sites inside Syria.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIsraelSyria

1 Comments
Posted May 6, 2013 at 10:58 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Recent Israeli strikes inside Syria may have exposed weaknesses in the regime’s air defenses and could embolden the U.S. and its allies to take more steps to aid rebels fighting the regime there, said lawmakers on Sunday.

“The Russian-supplied air defense systems are not as good as said,” Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) said on NBC’s "Meet the Press." Leahy, who heads the appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, said the Israeli defense forces were using American-made F-16 Fighting Falcon jets to launch the missiles against Syrian targets.

“Keep in mind the Israelis are using weapons supplied by us,” Leahy said. “They have enormous prowess with those weapons.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIsraelSyria

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Posted May 5, 2013 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The airstrike that Israeli warplanes carried out in Syria was directed at a shipment of advanced surface-to-surface missiles from Iran that Israel believed was intended for Hezbollah, the militant Lebanese organization, American officials said Saturday.

It was the second time in four months that Israel had carried out an attack in foreign territory aimed at disrupting the pipeline of weapons from Iran to Hezbollah. The missiles, known as Fateh-110s, had been sent to Syria by Iran and were being stored at an airport in Damascus when they were struck in the attack, according to an American official.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIranIsraelSyria

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Posted May 4, 2013 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Israel’s senior military intelligence analyst said Tuesday that the Syrian government had repeatedly used chemical weapons in the last month, and criticized the international community for failing to respond, intensifying pressure on the Obama administration to intervene.

“The regime has increasingly used chemical weapons,” said Brig. Gen. Itai Brun, research commander in the intelligence directorate of the Israeli Defense Forces, echoing a recent finding by Britain and France. “The very fact that they have used chemical weapons without any appropriate reaction,” he added, “is a very worrying development, because it might signal that this is legitimate.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelSyria

1 Comments
Posted April 23, 2013 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Russia has expressed concern at an alleged Israeli attack on Syria, saying such a strike would be an unacceptable violation of the UN Charter.

Syria's army said Israeli jets had targeted a military research centre north-west of Damascus on Wednesday.

It denied reports that lorries carrying weapons bound for Lebanon were hit.

Russia has steadfastly refused to denounce Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during the 22-month conflict that has killed more than 60,000 people.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussiaMiddle EastIsraelSyria

1 Comments
Posted January 31, 2013 at 6:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Speaking to a group of ultra-Orthodox men shortly before he officially entered politics, Yair Lapid, a proudly secular talk-show host, declared that in a century-long competition to define Israel’s character, “we lost and you won.”

“Not only in terms of numbers,” Mr. Lapid said in late 2011 at a college for religious students, but also in politics “and as a consumer force and in the streets and in the culture and in the educational system — you won in all these places.”

Now, Mr. Lapid’s stunning success in last week’s election, in which his new Yesh Atid became Israel’s second largest party, is being viewed by many voters, activists and analysts here as a victory for the secular mainstream in the intensifying identity battle gripping the country.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

1 Comments
Posted January 31, 2013 at 5:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop in Jerusalem, Bp Suheil Dawani has spoken out against sexual violence affecting women and children escaping Syria and criticised "archaic attitudes" to women that dominate the region.

In a piece written for ACNS, the Bishop says the crisis in Syria "requires urgent action" and noted that Christians "cannot be silent [witnesses] to the brutal treatment of women and children".

He wrote: "The UN has reported that 2.5 million people have fled their homes. Many are women and children who are fleeing in fear from the ongoing sexual violence against them. The International Rescue Committee reports that those who finally make it into the refugee camps are also victimized.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSexualityViolenceWomen* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael

0 Comments
Posted January 28, 2013 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A group of prominent Episcopalians is criticizing their church’s stand on Israel, urging it to join 15 other denominations who call for an accounting of U.S. aid to Israel.

The public letter released on Friday (Jan. 18) notes that leaders of 15 religious groups, including Lutherans, Presbyterians and Methodists, asked Congress to take that step last October, and that the “voice of the Episcopal Church is woefully missing.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Executive Council* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted January 22, 2013 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Executive Council* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelJordanLebanonThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted January 22, 2013 at 3:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than six decades since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls - and thousands of years after they were written - Israel on Tuesday put 5,000 images of the ancient biblical artifacts online in a partnership with Google.

The digital library contains the Book of Deuteronomy, which includes the second listing of the Ten Commandments, and a portion of the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, dated to the first century B.C.

Israeli officials said this is part of an attempt by the custodians of the celebrated manuscripts - often criticized for allowing them to be monopolized by small circles of scholars - to make them broadly available.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetHistoryReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael

0 Comments
Posted December 19, 2012 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of the holiest sites in Christendom has also been one of the most contested. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem lies on the site where Jesus Christ is said to have been crucified and buried.

Multiple Christian denominations share the church uneasily, and clerics sometimes come to blows over the most minor of disputes. The Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Coptic Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox and the Syriac Orthodox all have a presence in the church.

But the most recent conflict at the 4th century church was over something entirely different: an unpaid water bill.

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsJudaism

0 Comments
Posted December 6, 2012 at 11:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The people must be alert, analytically and democratically. Populist movements are gaining strength, forcing emotional, hasty, binary and often blind reactions. Political and religious leaders, intellectuals and students, women (in the heart of their legitimate struggles) as well as ordinary citizens bear a heavy responsibility. They must become the masters of their fate. If democratisation is to mean anything at all, it must be in terms of freedom and responsibility. Time has come to stop blaming the West, the neighbouring countries and the "powers" for the crises they continue to suffer.

The Great Powers undoubtedly played a role in the uprisings - they continue to wield great influence and have not stopped promoting their interests, dictatorships or not, democracy or not. Engaged as they are in a painful transition, the MENA countries must now face their destiny. However, beyond the strategic planning of the Great Powers - both the western countries and the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China) - these countries have a historic opportunity to take their destinies in their hands; to create a new regional balance of power, new ways of handling the religious reference. They can profit from the emerging multi-polar economic order to celebrate cultural and artistic creativity, and take seriously the welfare and the superior interests of their peoples.

Where to begin? With a true process of liberation, an intellectual and psychological revolution that must first overcome the obsession with western approval, as if, once liberated, these countries must still seek legitimacy and tolerance.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgyptIranIraqIsraelJordanSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted December 4, 2012 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the Gaza Strip fighting, where a cease-fire was reached Wednesday, the Israeli military pounded Gaza with hundreds of airstrikes. Hamas, the militant Palestinian group that rules Gaza, launched hundreds of rocket attacks on Israel.

The weeklong battle temporarily diverted attention from Iran, the archenemy of Israel and a key ally of Hamas. Israeli leaders have threatened to strike Iran over its nuclear program.

Yet the Gaza fight may offer insights into what a possible confrontation between Israel and Iran would look like.

Read (or listen to) it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIranIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

0 Comments
Posted November 21, 2012 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Israel said its air force bombed the house of a Hamas commander in the Gaza Strip after militants fired more than a dozen rockets toward southern Israel, trampling hopes for a three hour ceasefire during a brief visit by Egypt's premier to the tiny stretch of land.

Israel had agreed to halt it's three-day assault on Hamas in the Gaza Strip if militants refrained from firing rockets at Israel. It would have been the first break in the escalating conflict....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgyptIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

0 Comments
Posted November 16, 2012 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Israeli warplanes struck dozens of militant sites in Gaza early on Thursday, the second day of Israel’s deadly offensive against Hamas and other militant groups, and rockets fired from the enclave reached far into Israel, killing three civilians when one struck an apartment block in this small southern town.

The regional perils of the situation emerged in ever sharper relief, meanwhile, as President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt said in a national address on Thursday that his country stood by the Palestinians against what he termed Israeli aggression, news reports said, echoing similar condemnation on Wednesday.

Thursday’s deaths were the first casualties on the Israeli side since Israel launched its most ferocious assault on Gaza in four years in response to persistent Palestinian rocket fire.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgyptIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

0 Comments
Posted November 15, 2012 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am in Auckland, NZ, at the 15th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC15). The agenda moved into high gear today with presentations on "The Bible in the Life of the Church" (BILC), the Network for Interfaith Concerns (NIFCON) Report "Promised Land?", an Anglican Communion resource for addressing Israeli-Palestinian relations, and the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) report on The Instruments of Unity.

I believe that the discussion on BILC revealed an important major conclusion that tips the hand of the ACC's leadership: that the process of how Anglicans interpret scripture is as important as the substance of scripture. Two conclusions will follow from this premise: (1) Context reigns supreme in how people interpret, and in the diversity of interpretations that flow from diversity of contexts NO interpretation is better than another (a point made by the preselected TEC leader of one of the small groups), and (2) There are no "limits" on faithful interpretation (point made by the preselected Church of England rep from another reflection group).

In this discussion, initial enthusiasm for the affirmation of Bible study gave way to sharp differences over the language in the proposed resolution, and then to frustration that there was not enough time to consider the resolution.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: CommentaryAnglican Consultative Council* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* TheologyTheology: Scripture

5 Comments
Posted November 3, 2012 at 2:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Established by Jewish philanthropists Charles Bronfman and Michael Steinhardt, among others, in collaboration with the Israeli government and various Jewish communal organizations, Birthright's goal is "to strengthen Jewish identity, Jewish communities and solidarity with Israel." As the generation that experienced the Holocaust and the creation of Israel grew older and died, younger Jews began to view the issue of a Jewish state with less and less urgency.

Birthright's founders wanted to counter the waning interest in Judaism among the young. So far, the organization has sent more than 300,000 Jews from 59 countries to Israel—mostly from the U.S. and Canada.

Mark Shapiro, a former consultant for McKinsey & Co. who worked on the original plans for Birthright, says that some of the impetus for the project came from the 1990 Jewish Population Survey that showed an intermarriage rate for American Jews of greater than 50%....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

0 Comments
Posted November 2, 2012 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iranian warships have arrived in Port Sudan in an apparent show of support for the government in Khartoum, one week after it accused Israel of bombing an arms factory in the Sudanese capital.

Iran's state news agency confirmed yesterday that two vessels, a destroyer and a helicopter carrier have docked in Sudan's main port on the Red Sea and their commanders will be meeting Sudanese officials.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPovertyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--North Sudan--South SudanMiddle EastIranIsrael

1 Comments
Posted October 31, 2012 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

His Beatitude the late Patriarch Torkom Manougian was an exceptional figure both in the Armenian Church and in the wider Christian world, within and beyond the Holy Land.

An intellectual, scholar, musician and poet, he was also a skilled statesman who represented all the most impressive aspects of the Armenian character and the Armenian tradition.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Rowan Williams* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesOrthodox Church

0 Comments
Posted October 23, 2012 at 11:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United States Postal Service chose Washington National Cathedral’s Bethlehem Chapel to issue its Holy Family Forever stamp on Oct. 10. The stamp depicts the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt after Christ’s birth. The family appears in silhouette against a deep orange sky with the brightly shining Christmas star ahead of them. Joseph leads a donkey on which Mary and the infant Jesus ride.

The contemporary artwork on the stamp, now available nationwide, is a departure from some of previous Christmas stamps featuring traditional artwork of Mary and Jesus. Indeed, the 1980 USPS Christmas stamp showed the Madonna and Child in Bethlehem Chapel’s Epiphany stained-glass window.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Parishes* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. Government* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael

0 Comments
Posted October 12, 2012 at 5:58 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I was recently struck by some photos and reports I saw on the al-Arabiya network, the most respected news outlet in the Middle East. There was a starving child in Yemen, a burnt-out ancient souk in Aleppo, Syria, car bombs in Iraq and destroyed buildings in Libya.

What links all these images is that the destruction and the atrocities were not perpetrated by an outside enemy. The starvation, the killings and the destruction in these Arab countries were carried out by the same hands that are supposed to protect and build the unity of these countries and safeguard their people. Who, therefore, is the real enemy of the Arab world?

Many Arabs would say it is Israel — their sworn enemy, an enemy whose existence they have never recognised. From 1948 to today there have been three full-scale wars and many confrontations. But what was the real cost of these wars to the Arab world and its people? The harder question that no Arab wants to ask is: what was the real cost of not recognising Israel in 1948 and why didn’t the Arab states spend their assets on education, healthcare and infrastructure instead of wars? But the very hardest question of all is whether Israel is the real enemy of the Arab world and the Arab people.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPovertyViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaLibyaMiddle EastEgyptIsraelJordanLebanonQatarSaudi ArabiaSyriaThe Palestinian/Israeli StruggleUAE (United Arab Emirates)

1 Comments
Posted October 12, 2012 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Israeli military experts Sunday worked around the clock to examine the remains of a mysterious drone that was shot down after penetrating Israeli airspace from the Mediterranean Sea.

The Israeli military announced Saturday that the unmanned aerial vehicle was shot down over the northern Negev Desert. They say the drone did not take off from Gaza, leading them to consider the possibility that it originated in Lebanon.

Israeli security experts point the finger at Israel's longstanding rival Hezbollah, the Shiite militia based in southern Lebanon.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIranIraqIsraelLebanonSyriaThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

1 Comments
Posted October 8, 2012 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Events in recent days have illustrated just how quickly the violence in Syria could spiral into a regional war. After Syrian mortar bombs once again fell on Turkish soil, this time killing five civilians, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan felt compelled to act. The Turkish military's retaliation on Wednesday and Thursday startled the international community.

With its actions, Turkey obviously proceeded with caution: It answered the repeated attacks from Syria with a few artillery shots -- not missiles. And the permission for further military action granted to Erdogan by his parliament is intended primarily as an intimidation measure. There is no apparent intent to declare all-out war -- at least for the time being. The United Nations Security Council, meanwhile, has strongly condemned the Syrian attack on Turkish soil and called on both sides to show restraint.
The fact of the matter is that the longer Syrian civil war continues, the more often incidents like that seen earlier this week will occur -- particularly in Turkey and Lebanon. A large part of the border region around Syria has already become a war zone. Previously, the international community had worried that a military intervention could fuel a regional wildfire, but now it is being forced to look on as this increasingly appears to be the reality -- without it ever even having gotten involved.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgyptIranIraqIsraelJordanLebanonSyria

0 Comments
Posted October 7, 2012 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With participants from Church of England dioceses, pilgrimage tour operators and Christian organisations linked to the Holy Land, the conference aimed to share ideas, resources and connections to help deepen the pilgrimage experience. The day sought to foster pilgrimages that make connections, using the resources and landmarks of the past to engage with the present, and encountering the present to transform understanding of the Bible.

Read it all (and note the audio link).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Rowan Williams* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael

0 Comments
Posted October 3, 2012 at 3:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....[Bishop Suheil Dawani] said the task was harder than ever, with a Christian population that has shrunk from about 30 percent of the population of the overall total just after World War II to about 1 percent today.

The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem oversees the Anglican community in Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, but only has 29 parishes and about 7,000 members. Its reach, though, is deeper and wider than what shows up in the pews, with direct support of two hospitals, five health clinics, five rehabilitation centers and 17 schools.

"Our main influence is through the work of our institutions," Dawani said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsInter-Faith Relations

0 Comments
Posted September 29, 2012 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drew his "red line" for Iran's nuclear program on Thursday despite a U.S. refusal to set an ultimatum, saying Tehran will be on the brink of a nuclear weapon in less than a year.

By citing a time frame in an address to the U.N. General Assembly, Netanyahu - who has clashed with President Barack Obama over the urgency of military action against Iran - appeared to suggest no Israeli attack was imminent before the November 6 U.S. presidential election....

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIranIsrael* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 27, 2012 at 5:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

They are in their 80s now, the last living links to Janusz Korczak, the visionary champion of children’s rights who refused to part with his young charges even as they were herded to the gas chambers.

When they speak of him, the old men are young again: transported to their days in his orphanage, a place they remember as a magical republic for children as the Nazi threat grew closer.

“It was a utopia,” said Shlomo Nadel, 85, one of the surviving orphans who managed to flee Poland before the Jewish orphanage was forced into the ghetto.

Read it all

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropePolandMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

0 Comments
Posted September 23, 2012 at 1:46 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The rift between top U.S. and Israeli leaders appeared to deepen Tuesday as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leveled the sharpest attacks in years by an Israeli leader against Washington, over differences on how to address Iran's nuclear program.

Tensions had so escalated that President Barack Obama spent an hour on the phone with the Israeli leader in a hastily arranged call hours after both governments said the White House wouldn't agree to an Israeli request for a meeting between the two leaders at the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York this month.

The Israelis said their request was refused; the White House said there was a scheduling conflict and there could be a meeting elsewhere at another time.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIranIsrael* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 12, 2012 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called Israel "an insult to humankind". It follows a week in which Israel has been carrying out an increasingly public debate about whether to attack Iran's nuclear facilities.

Some people have suggested that an attack is more likely to happen before America's presidential election in November, because it would be harder for President Obama to stop it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIranIsrael

1 Comments
Posted August 18, 2012 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The world must “never forget” the terrorist attacks that killed Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, David Cameron has said.

On the 40th anniversary of the attack, the Prime Minister led tributes to the 11 men who lost their lives on “one of the darkest days in the history of the Olympic Games”.

He said Britain understands the terrible impact of terrorism as the London 2012 Olympics were announced the day before the bombings on July 7, 2005.

Read it all and then please take the time to read the whole speech.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistorySportsViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeGermanyMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

0 Comments
Posted August 6, 2012 at 7:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last week the EU rejected Israel’s request to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organisation. The recent attack in Bulgaria, in which five Israeli tourists were killed and 30 others wounded, and the concern that Syria may provide Hezbollah with chemical weapons, added urgency to Israel’s request. Nonetheless, Europe, which is vulnerable to terrorism on its own soil, refused the request, in part on the grounds that Hezbollah is also a political party.

Hezbollah does indeed play on both fields: it is a terrorist organisation operated by Iran and a Lebanese political party. But the EU’s stance, whereby political activity is regarded as sound defence against being declared a terrorist organisation provides legitimacy to terrorism, encourages violence, and fatally harms moderates.

Europe, the cradle of democracy, should have stated unequivocally: one cannot be involved in terrorism and enjoy the legitimacy of a political party....

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeMiddle EastIsrael

2 Comments
Posted July 30, 2012 at 7:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Two small portable shrines are giving Bible scholars new clues about Israelite religious practices during the time of David and Solomon. They also indicate a pendulum swing in the world of biblical archaeology.

Read it all

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael

1 Comments
Posted July 25, 2012 at 5:03 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Presbyterians in favor of divestment said that their church could not in good conscience hold stock in companies that they said perpetuate an unjust occupation and undermine the search for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. But opponents said that divestment would unfairly vilify Israel, and accomplish little but further polarization.

Arthur Shippee, a delegate from southern New England, said: “What divestment will achieve is this: We will add a whisper soon lost in the storm, but we will further the divisions in our church when we have our own serious problems to address, and we will precipitate divisions with the synagogues within our communities whom we work with frequently on a variety of issues. This will be perceived as picking on Israel, and how could it not?”

Speaking in favor of divestment and against the pro-investment resolution, Tim Simpson, a delegate from the Presbytery of St. Augustine in Jacksonville, Fla., said: “The Palestinians aren’t asking us for a check, sisters and brothers. The Palestinians are asking us for justice. They’re asking us for dignity. How can you write a check to a people who don’t control their own water?”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian

0 Comments
Posted July 6, 2012 at 5:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am delighted to announce the appointment of The Reverend Canon Hosam Elias Naoum as the new Dean of the Cathedral Church of Saint George the Martyr in Jerusalem.

Canon Naoum, 38, has served as the Canon Pastor of the Cathedral since 2005, and was the Acting Dean for three years (2007-2009). As Dean, Canon Naoum will continue to serve as Pastor to the Arabic and English-Speaking Congregations at the Cathedral. He did his first theological training at the College of the Transfiguration and Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, and a Master of Theology degree in Canon Law (MTS) at the Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS), Alexandria, Virginia in the USA.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael

0 Comments
Posted May 7, 2012 at 7:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The IDF has issued emergency call up orders to six reserve battalions in light of new dangers on the Egyptian and Syrian borders. And the Knesset has given the IDF permission to summon a further 16 reserve battalions if necessary, Israeli media reported on Wednesday.

An IDF spokesperson said intelligence assessments called for the deployment of more soldiers.

Ugh--read it all

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgyptIsraelSyria

1 Comments
Posted May 2, 2012 at 6:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Israel’s military chief said in an interview published Wednesday that he believes Iran will choose not to build a nuclear bomb, an assessment that contrasted with the gloomier statements of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and pointed to differences over the Iran issue at the top levels of Israeli leadership.

The comments by Maj. Gen Benny Gantz, who said international sanctions have begun to show results, could relieve pressure on the Obama administration and undercut efforts by Israeli political leaders to urge the United States to get as tough as possible on Iran.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIranIsrael

0 Comments
Posted April 26, 2012 at 5:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

T he discovery this week of a massive light crude oil field in southern Iran adds another layer of complexity to one of the world's most acute problems. Iran and Israel appear to be heading for war unless something unexpected happens and this week's discovery will only strengthen the resolve and confidence of Tehran.

For many Australians the name Iran conjures images of bearded and severe Ayatollahs and a wide-eyed President Ahmadinejad occupying the no-man's land between sanity and fanaticism. We see a persistent stream of refugees who seem to validate the assumption they must be fleeing a toxic regime. Since this country could easily become the biggest, cataclysmic news story of the year, it is worth spending a few minutes trying to understand its pathology....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIranIsrael

0 Comments
Posted April 20, 2012 at 5:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almost every year for over one hundred years on the Saturday before Orthodox Easter, the main street in Ramallah has been overtaken by marching boy scouts and girl scouts banging drums and blowing trumpets before tens of thousands of onlookers.

It isn’t much of a parade. The music is as loud and out of tune as it is enthusiastic. Yet I try never to miss Sabt el Nour and the rowdy procession celebrating the miraculous light that beamed from Christ’s tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem the day before his resurrection.

Read it all and do not miss the fantastic picture.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsEaster* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOrthodox Church

2 Comments
Posted April 20, 2012 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Wherever in the world Catholics may be preparing to celebrate Easter, their thoughts and prayers will go to the Holy Land, the land of Christ’s birth. In order to help us enter into this season’s mysteries, what better place to go than to Jerusalem – the city of the Lord’s Passion, death and Resurrection?

Fr. David Neuhaus, the Patriarchal Vicar for Hebrew speaking Catholics there, takes us on Holy Thursday to the cenacle – the room of the Last Supper where the sacrament of the Eucharist was first instituted, and then on to the Garden of Olives...

Listen to it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly WeekLiturgy, Music, WorshipSpirituality/Prayer* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

0 Comments
Posted April 5, 2012 at 5:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

During the month leading up to Passover, which this year begins April 6 at sundown, Chevy Weiss, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish mother with five kids and a demanding career, scrubs and vacuums almost everything in her Baltimore home.

In keeping with their strict interpretation of Jewish law, which forbids Jews from possessing and consuming chametz (fermented grains) during the eight-day festival, Weiss and her husband, Yoel, clean every one of their five children's toys by hand, with bleach.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

0 Comments
Posted April 2, 2012 at 1:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...in excerpts of the interviews shown late Thursday, Mr. Netanyahu reiterated the point he had sought to make forcefully in Washington: that if Iran did not change course, Israel, which considers a nuclear Iran a threat to its existence, would not allow itself to be in a position where its fate was left in others’ hands.

“The United States is big and distant, Israel is smaller and closer to Iran, and naturally, we have different capabilities,” Mr. Netanyahu told Channel One, the public television channel. “So the American clock regarding preventing Iranian nuclearization is not the Israeli one. The Israeli clock works, obviously, according to a different schedule.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIranIsrael

0 Comments
Posted March 10, 2012 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...[Middle Eastern Christians] share of the region's population has plunged from 20% a century ago to less than 5% today and falling. In Egypt, 200,000 Coptic Christians fled their homes last year after beatings and massacres by Muslim extremist mobs. Since 2003, 70 Iraqi churches have been burned and nearly a thousand Christians killed in Baghdad alone, causing more than half of this million-member community to flee. Conversion to Christianity is a capital offense in Iran, where last month Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani was sentenced to death. Saudi Arabia outlaws private Christian prayer.

As 800,000 Jews were once expelled from Arab countries, so are Christians being forced from lands they've inhabited for centuries.

The only place in the Middle East where Christians aren't endangered but flourishing is Israel. Since Israel's founding in 1948, its Christian communities (including Russian and Greek Orthodox, Catholics, Armenians and Protestants) have expanded more than 1,000%.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relationsJudaism

2 Comments
Posted March 9, 2012 at 3:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Amid an escalating din among Israeli leaders about the threat of a potentially nuclear Iran, the Israeli public has displayed little enthusiasm for a solo preemptive military strike. A handful of recent polls have shown that ordinary Israelis are firmly against the idea of going it alone.

“Israelis are much more careful, much more cautious than their government,” said Ephraim Yaar, a Tel Aviv University professor who co-directs a monthly public opinion survey. This week, more than 60 percent of Israelis polled said they opposed an attack on Iran without U.S. cooperation....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIranIsrael

0 Comments
Posted March 9, 2012 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For the settlers, the presence of the Christian workers has more practical applications.

"Today we have more than 200 acres. It's a lot of agriculture and it takes a lot of work," says Veret Ben Sadon, who helps run the Tura Winery. "We saw that we cannot work alone. I can say for sure that without this help, we cannot do what we are doing today."

Essentially she gets free labor for the heavy seasonal work that needs to be done. She says there is a labor shortage in the area and the Christians fill the gap.

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesEvangelicals

0 Comments
Posted March 8, 2012 at 6:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The international community is set to restart talks with Iran on its nuclear program, the European Union's top diplomat said Tuesday, opening a diplomatic channel at a time of increased tensions between Tehran and Western powers.

Catherine Ashton, the EU's foreign-policy chief, on Tuesday wrote to Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, that the EU proposed resuming talks "as soon as possible." The agreement was a response to a letter from Mr. Jalili in February asking for talks at the "earliest" opportunity.

The announcement comes a day after U.S. and Israeli leaders met in Washington to discuss Iran's nuclear-development program. The U.S. and many EU states have accused Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran has denied.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeMiddle EastIranIsrael

5 Comments
Posted March 7, 2012 at 5:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Curiously missing in this flurry of coverage has been a more considered assessment of the internal dynamics in play for Israeli decision-makers and how those might be most effectively influenced. Too often, the calculations of Israel's leaders are depicted as if this were a collection of think-tankers and trauma victims given a very big and high-tech army to play with. Netanyahu represents the latter, guided by his "existentialist mindset" and his 101-year-old historian father. (The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg drew heavily on the father-son relationship in his assessment 18 months ago that an Israeli strike on Iran was imminent.) Peter Beinart has written, "Benjamin Netanyahu has only one mode: apocalyptic." And the prime minister often depicts contemporary realities as akin to 1938.

In Shalom Auslander's new novel, Hope: A Tragedy, the lead protagonist, Solomon Kugel, discovers a living and elderly Anne Frank in his attic, at one level seemingly a metaphor for the identity politics of contemporary American Jewry -- we all carry Anne Frank around with us in our heads. Bibi Netanyahu can sometimes sound like an Israeli version of Solomon Kugel, the difference being that in the Israeli "attic" we keep both Anne Frank and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the two apparently merging when it comes to the prime minister's depiction of the threat posed by Iran and how it should be handled....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & TechnologySexuality* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIranIsrael

0 Comments
Posted March 6, 2012 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

.... the world should [not] just let Iran get the bomb. The government will soon be starved of revenues, because of an oil embargo. Sanctions are biting, the financial system is increasingly isolated and the currency has plunged in value. Proponents of an attack argue that military humiliation would finish the regime off. But it is as likely to rally Iranians around their leaders. Meanwhile, political change is sweeping across the Middle East. The regime in Tehran is divided and it has lost the faith of its people. Eventually, popular resistance will spring up as it did in 2009. A new regime brought about by the Iranians themselves is more likely to renounce the bomb than one that has just witnessed an American assault.

Is there a danger that Iran will get a nuclear weapon before that happens? Yes, but bombing might only increase the risk. Can you stop Iran from getting a bomb if it is determined to have one? Not indefinitely, and bombing it might make it all the more desperate. Short of occupation, the world cannot eliminate Iran’s capacity to gain the bomb. It can only change its will to possess one. Just now that is more likely to come about through sanctions and diplomacy than war.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIranIsrael

0 Comments
Posted February 25, 2012 at 8:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Should Israel decide to launch a strike on Iran, its pilots would have to fly more than 1,000 miles across unfriendly airspace, refuel in the air en route, fight off Iran’s air defenses, attack multiple underground sites simultaneously — and use at least 100 planes.

That is the assessment of American defense officials and military analysts close to the Pentagon, who say that an Israeli attack meant to set back Iran’s nuclear program would be a huge and highly complex operation. They describe it as far different from Israel’s “surgical” strikes on a nuclear reactor in Syria in 2007 and Iraq’s Osirak reactor in 1981.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIranIsrael

12 Comments
Posted February 20, 2012 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Eliat, Israel--Vacationers in this glittering holiday city by the Israeli-Egyptian border, stroll along a seaside promenade trying to forget their nation's troubles.

"We try not to think about politics too much," said Nikhama Prat, pushing her 3-year-old son in a carriage along the wood-planked walkway. "There is always something happening with Israel. We're threatened all the time."
In a country endemic with strife, there are mixed feelings among Israelis over whether growing threats from Iran, or immediate localized issues, are of greatest concern.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIranIsrael

0 Comments
Posted February 7, 2012 at 5:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams met with Chief Rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar on Thursday during a week-long personal pilgrimage to Israel and the West Bank.

The office of the Diocese of Jerusalem of the Anglican Church said that during Williams’ visit he emphasized “the importance of constructive dialogue and co-existence between all religions,” and the need to “consolidate the peace process between the people of this region.”

Invited by the head of the Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem Bishop Suheil Dawani, Williams was on a private tour and so did not make any public statements.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury * International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsJudaism

1 Comments
Posted February 5, 2012 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Traveling to Israel with Jewish colleagues earlier this month had a transforming effect on the Rev. Susan Sica, vicar of Saint Gregory’s Episcopal Church in Parsippany.

“It would have been easy to go to Israel and have a sanitized experience that only touched on Christian sites — where Jesus walked, and that sort of thing. But then we would never have really looked at what Israel is today,” she told NJJN in a phone conversation a few days after returning.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsJudaism

6 Comments
Posted January 26, 2012 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The founders of Neve Shaanan, a neighborhood in southern Tel Aviv, planned their streets in the shape of a seven-branched candelabra - a symbol of their Jewish faith. Ninety years later, the streets are full of Christmas decorations, reflecting a flowering of Christianity in Israel's economic and cultural capital.

Tens of thousands of Christian foreigners, most of them laborers from the Philippines and African asylum seekers, have poured into the neighborhood in recent years. They pray year-round in more than 30 churches hidden in grimy apartment buildings. But in late December, their Christian subculture emerges in full force in the southern streets of Tel Aviv, whose founders called it the "first Hebrew city."

On the Saturday before Christmas, the center of festivities was the city's central bus station, a hulking seven-story maze of concrete.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsJudaism

0 Comments
Posted December 22, 2011 at 5:18 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Perched on Tel Kinrot, a hill above the Sea of Galilee, Winston Mah turned his face toward the warm sun and took in the tranquil view before him.

To his right, the Christian pilgrim from San Diego saw banana groves at the edge of the calm fresh-water lake; to his left, on the opposite hill, rose the majestic Mount of Beatitudes at Tabga, where, according to Christian tradition, Jesus delivered his Sermon on the Mount.

“This is a unique experience,” Mah said, gazing at a lone fisherman on the water’s edge. “This is the view Jesus must have seen, the path he might have walked, the water he walked on. It’s a privilege to walk in his footsteps.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael

0 Comments
Posted December 8, 2011 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Military action against Iran would be a "very serious mistake fraught with unpredictable consequences", Russia's foreign minister has warned.

Sergei Lavrov said diplomacy, not missile strikes, was the only way to solve the Iranian nuclear problem.

His comments come after Israeli President Shimon Peres said an attack on Iran was becoming more likely.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussiaMiddle EastIraqIsrael

0 Comments
Posted November 7, 2011 at 11:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the Sabbath morning of Nov. 5, less than three weeks after the release of Sgt. First Class Gilad Shalit in a prisoner exchange between Israel and Hamas, Jews in synagogues throughout the world will read a Torah portion concerning Abraham’s early journeys. The text recounts how invaders conquered the city of Sodom, taking Abraham’s nephew Lot as a captive, and the way Abraham raised an army to rescue him.

The timing of this Torah reading is an absolute coincidence, an unplanned synchronicity between the religious calendar and breaking news. Yet the passage also offers an essential explanation, one almost entirely ignored in coverage of the Shalit deal, for Israel’s anguished decision to pay a ransom in the form of more than a thousand Palestinian prisoners, including the perpetrators of terrorist attacks on civilians.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

0 Comments
Posted October 22, 2011 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two Pittsburgh religious leaders said they felt joy and relief when they learned an Israeli soldier held captive for five years by Hamas had been freed.

"I'm thrilled that that's happened for the family, but I certainly hope and pray not just for his welfare, but that we don't have to face this situation again," said Bishop David Zubik of the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese.

Zubik and Aaron Bisno, senior rabbi of Rodef Shalom Congregation in Shadyside, discussed their reactions on Tuesday after Israel exchanged more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for Gilad Schalit, 25, an Israeli soldier held captive since 2006.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther Churches

0 Comments
Posted October 19, 2011 at 6:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As a child growing up in Kaifeng in central China, Jin Jin was constantly reminded of her unusual heritage.

"We weren't supposed to eat pork, our graves were different from other people, and we had a mezuza on our door," said the 25-year-old, referring to the prayer scroll affixed to doorways of Jewish homes.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaChinaMiddle EastIsrael

0 Comments
Posted October 18, 2011 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At the outset, it bears noting what The Episcopal Church has said repeatedly over the course of multiple decades: a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians can be achieved only by bilateral negotiations between the two parties themselves. This important principle was reaffirmed just last month by a joint communiqué of the Patriarchs and Heads of Local Churches in Jerusalem. The contours of what such negotiations must produce are as clear as ever: a two-state solution that provides for the security and universal recognition of Israel and the safety of all its people, the viability and territorial integrity of a state for the Palestinian people, and a sharing of the holy city of Jerusalem.

Unfortunately, the gulf between this outcome and the political and moral will needed to achieve it has proven wide. Only a year ago, hope existed that negotiations would commence, and that – particularly with the involvement of the President of the United States – the moment for a peaceful solution might finally have arrived. Tragically, the events of the past year have driven the parties further apart rather than closer together, leading some to question whether international efforts to support the peace process have lost credibility, and whether there is any meaningful path toward negotiations.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

6 Comments
Posted October 3, 2011 at 2:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For decades after they were discovered in a cave, the Dead Sea Scrolls were allowed to be examined closely only by fewer than a couple dozen scholars and archaeologists.

Now, with infrared- and computer-enhanced photography, anyone with a computer can view these 2,000-year-old relics, which include the oldest known copies of biblical text and a window on the world and times of Jesus.

High-quality digitized images of five of the 950 manuscripts were posted for free online for the first time this week by Google and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, where the scrolls are housed. The post includes an English translation and a search feature to one of the texts, the Great Isaiah Scroll.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael

0 Comments
Posted September 28, 2011 at 11:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem and his family are celebrating today after finally getting permission to remain in the city after many months of legal and diplomat appeals.

The Rt. Revd Suheil Dawani, who is also Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, today spoke of his delight at finally getting the Residency Permits that as someone born in Nablus in the West Bank must have to stay in East Jerusalem, where St. George Anglican Cathedral and the bishop's offices are located.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael

0 Comments
Posted September 27, 2011 at 6:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I've never been more worried about Israel's future. The crumbling of key pillars of Israel's security -- the peace with Egypt, the stability of Syria and the friendship of Turkey and Jordan -- coupled with the most diplomatically inept and strategically incompetent government in Israel's history have put Israel in a very dangerous situation.

This has also left the U.S. government fed up with Israel's leadership but a hostage to its ineptitude, because the powerful pro-Israel lobby in an election season can force the administration to defend Israel at the United Nations, even when it knows Israel is pursuing policies not in its own interest or America's.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael

63 Comments
Posted September 21, 2011 at 7:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Religious leaders of all stripes, gowns and headgear gathered in Jerusalem’s Mishkenot Sha’ananim neighborhood Wednesday to attend the third annual Interfaith Ethics and Tolerance conference.

Bringing together Jewish and Muslim clerics, as well as clergy from numerous Christian denominations and those of the Bahai and Hindu faiths, the conference this year focused on the role of spiritual leaders in promoting peace and tolerance as well as the challenges of religious leadership in today’s globalized world.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith Relations

0 Comments
Posted September 15, 2011 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



This is the video mentioned in the prior audio piece from Vatican Radio. Watch it all--KSH.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

0 Comments
Posted July 16, 2011 at 9:21 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The former Mossad spy chief's name is on everyone's lips in Israel — with good reason.

Meir Dagan was the head of Israel's spy agency for eight years and has been credited with raising the international prestige of the agency. So it came as a shock to many that upon leaving office he would talk about one of the most sensitive issues here: Iran.

Dagan has said that a military strike on that nation targeting its suspect nuclear program would be disastrous, and he lambasted the current Israeli leadership for being reckless in pursuing that aim. This past week, Dagan was stripped of his diplomatic passport, in apparent retaliation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign Relations* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIranIsrael

1 Comments
Posted June 29, 2011 at 5:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Episcopalians in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles held silent prayer vigils in protest of Israeli treatment of Palestinians on May 24, the day Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress about the peace process.

They sought to send a message about the Israeli government's policies towards Palestinians in general and specifically the refusal to grant Anglican Bishop Suheil Dawani a permit to reside in Jerusalem. As bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, Dawani, a Palestinian Christian, oversees congregations and institutions in Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian Territories.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle EastEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

4 Comments
Posted May 26, 2011 at 4:51 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The calendars of the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches coincide this year, so the sects are marking the holy week together. Jews are also celebrating the Passover festival.

Herman Backhaus, from Munster, Germany, says being in Jerusalem reminds him that Jesus "actually lived, and his message didn't die with him on the cross."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly Week* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael

3 Comments
Posted April 22, 2011 at 9:19 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The heads of Christian churches in Jerusalem have come out against the Israel’ government’s denial of a residency permit in the city to the Anglican (Episcopalian) bishop Suheil Dawani. At the same time, they have renewed their protest against government attempts to impose new taxes on churches, something which was excluded by the UN, and in centuries of their presence had never occurred before not even at the founding of the State of Israel.

In a statement released in recent days, the church leaders (which includes patriarchs, bishops, the head of the Custody of the Holy Land) defend Bishop Dawani’s " right to religious freedom," to “reside with his family in the holy city."

Bishop Dawani was born in Nablus in the West Bank and is considered a "foreigner" in East Jerusalem, a territory occupied by Israel and where the Cathedral and Anglican curia are located. He may reside there only with special permission which has been denied him by the Israeli Ministry of the Interior.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael

9 Comments
Posted April 12, 2011 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jerusalem's Anglican bishop, a Palestinian, is engaged in a legal battle with Israel over its refusal to extend his residency permit, a church official said on Wednesday.

The official, who declined to be named, said Israel's Interior Ministry had written to Bishop Suheil Dawani and accused him of improper land dealings on behalf of the church and the Palestinian Authority, allegations he denies.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael

0 Comments
Posted March 30, 2011 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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