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Israeli settlers and Jewish extremists vandalizing and defacing Christian and Muslim holy sites under Israeli control. What is the government of Israel doing to stop this?
By Maria C. Khoury, Ed. D.
Every day I wake up and stare at the new illegal Israeli settlement right in front of my kitchen window. It has been a very different life as a Greek-American living in a Palestinian Christian village that my husband loves so much.
This morning after listening to news that I did not understand about a church building put on fire and terrible hate slogans about Christ, I started to call all of my friends to get some information from the ground. Sometimes, just because something is in the news does not mean it happened exactly that way.
It was a great comfort that so many people were extremely busy that someone of us did not exactly know or understand the details of what happened. And, we somehow try every day to continue a normal pattern of working or functioning with terrible evil all around us. How does one keep sanity with such craziness. May God have mercy since basically, I personally feel, we have gone backwards to the first century.
Finally at the end of the day, after speaking with Bishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, he confirmed that the Mount Sion Seminary in Jerusalem was attacked before dawn by two unknown men wearing black masks and breaking through the bathroom window of the seminary and throwing a home made bomb setting the building on fire.
The fire department responded by putting the fire out without anyone being hurt in this awful hate crime. Graffiti on the outside walls written in Hebrew blasphemed Christ. My dear friend Dan said that the relics of Saint Philoumenos were kept at the Mount Sion Seminary until 2009 before returned to Jacob’s Well at the Church of St. Photini where the saint was brutally killed by fanatic settlers on November 29, 1979.
Bishop Demetri helped me understand that the seminary of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate has been operating for more than 300 years with local and Greek teachers giving instruction to about fifteen students, ages twelve to seventeen, for general education and learning Greek, English and Arabic. The new principal is priest monk Father Nicholas, a Greek-Australian who has replaced the late Father Photios who served as a principal for over twenty years. The community is peaceful and a witness for Christ’s love and peace. Underneath the seminary is the church of the Holy Trinity.
This vicious attack on our precious holy sites today comes after fanatic settlers also burned a mosque near Bethlehem on Wednesday morning. This terrible violence on Palestinian Christian and Muslim holy places is occurring with the 21st anniversary massacre of twenty-nine Palestinian worshipers at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron by an American born Israeli settler, Baruch Goldstein. May God forgive him. However, I surely challenge my church leadership to have a loud voice for a just peace.
May the Light of Christ shine in this terrible dark time in the world and may the Love of Christ overpower evil. Let us pray to see the humanity in each other.
I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness,
but have the light of life. John 8:12
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Palestine Christian Writer, Blogger at St. George Greek Orthodox Church
Maria (Kouremenou) Khoury is the author of Orthodox Christian children's books including Christina Goes to the Holy Land, walking the footsteps of Christ. She is a graduate of Hellenic College (1982), Harvard University (1985) and Boston University (1992) with a doctor of education degree. Born in Tripoli, Greece, she was raised in Denver, Colorado. On Dec 31, 2009 she was included on the top 4 Human Rights Champions list by DC Human Rights Examiner including the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Hilary Clinton.
Maria is the author of Witness in the Holy Land (distributed by www.HolyCrossBookstore.com), a publication reflecting personal experiences living under military occupation with her husband the former Mayor of Taybeh, David Canaan Khoury and three children Elena, Canaan, and Constantine. Her articles have been published world-wide in numerous newspapers and magazines and have been translated to various languages bringing awareness of the Christian presence in the Holy Land.
Maria Khoury has been the Taybeh Oktoberfest organizer since 2005.She divides her time between her homes in Boston and Taybeh, travels throughout the world promoting the Christina Books and making presentations about the dwindling Christian community in Palestine.She encourages people to stay at the new Taybeh Golden Hotel and experience rural life in Palestine.