The Musalaha Organization took part in a conference on the Christian Palestinian Identity in Israel, held at the Truman Institute of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The official title of the Conference was “New Trends in Researching the Identity of Christian Palestinians in Israel”. The Conference was held under the auspices of the Centre for Christian Studies of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, as well as the Faculty of Education, the Harry Truman Institute, and the Swiss Institute for Research in Conflict, as well as the Musalaha Organization.

Taking part in the presentations/discussions were local and international speakers and academicians. The core of the discussion dealt with the Christian identity and Palestinian culture and the nature of their relationship with the Islamic and Christian communities. The opening remarks by His Worship the former Bishop of the Latin Christian Community, Father Michel Sabbagh, dealt with the challenges faced by the collective Christian Palestinian community.

A large number of researchers presented the results of their studies on the subject and their recommendations concerning the identification of the Palestinian Christian community and its relationship to other communities with whom they share a commonality of life in Israel.

Lawyer and researcher Rula Mansour of the Evangelical College of Nazareth presented a clear picture of the Evangelical Arabs and their position within Israel. Ms. Mansour is preparing her Ph. D. thesis on the role of Christian Missionary Activity in Palestine.

In a private interview with Dr. Salim Munayer, Director of the Musalaha Organization, Dr. Munayer emphasized that this was the first such conference as it relates to a focus on the Christian Palestinian Identity in Israel. The Conference’s aim was to gather and shed light on the efforts of researchers and thinkers, and to discuss further the conclusions of their research on the subject, and not excluding the work and efforts of pastors/priests working in this area. The invitation to His Worship former Patriarch Michel Sabbagh was the result of the pressing need to understand his pastoral views as they pertain to the Palestinian Christians residing in Israel.

The Rev. Dr. Jack Sara, President of Bethlehem Bible College expressed his satisfaction and delight at the excellent qualifications of BBC participants to the Conference, and whose research and contributions to the discussion were effective and valuable; those participants have also contributed to the general debate at both local and international levels in other forums.

Dr. Sara thanked the Conference participants and emphasized that Bethlehem Bible College is determined to continue to encourage and qualify future generations to continue to meet the College’s mandate and to take its message to every reach of the globe. Dr. Sara underscored the achievements of the Conference and emphasized the importance of continuing such research/dialogue to ensure the continuing presence of the Christians in the Holy Land, even in the shadow of existing political and social challenges. These Christians are an integral part of the Palestinian mosaic. Dr. Sara also referred to the role of the “Christ at the Checkpoint” Conference which is organized by Bethlehem Bible College at regular intervals.

The Conference also discussed topics on education, establishment of schools, existing laws, and the position of Christians towards military service.

Among the Conference speakers was Prof. Sami Samouheh, Prof. Gabriel Horitsic, Prof. Nouri Stonanof, lawyer Rula Mansour, Dr. Salim Munayer from Bethlehem Bible College and also Director of the Musalaha Organization.