In Palestine: Revolution Continues in Great Lent

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In Palestine: Revolution Continues in Great Lent
Maria C. Khoury, Ed. D. — There are so many revolutions happening all around me, I am not sure which one to pay attention too. You lose count of the innocent people who die daily protesting for freedom and democracy in other countries. “Taste the Revolution” has been our company slogan for the last six years but the type of revolution happening in Taybeh has always been a peaceful one, a non violent one. We believe you can have peaceful resistance without guns and weapons. We are fighting the good fight by making a premium high quality product so we can inspire people to choose Palestinian products and help boost the economy.

We are trying to practice non violent action in a very violent environment where in the month of February alone, seven people were killed and the Israeli settlers have uprooted more than 800 trees in Palestine. It was a huge disappointment to say the least about the U.S. veto of the UN Security council resolution condemning continued settlement construction by Israel in the Palestinian Territories. This was totally opposite from what President Obama says in press conferences and in the media. I don’t understand the language America speaks anymore. I am seriously trying to see the Light of God in the darkness.

I returned to my village home in Taybeh to find the illegal Israeli settlement in front of my kitchen window continuing to get bigger and bigger. The Israeli government will not stop the ongoing occupation of Palestinian land and deliberate pursuit of continued expansion of settlements. Consequently in East Jerusalem there is a huge effort to ethnically clean out all of the Palestinian residents and freely bring in Israeli settlers while the whole world shuts their eyes to these injustices.

Israel issued demolition orders against 89 Palestinian homes. So I am simply thinking that the peace process is as frozen as the crystal ice I admired on the tree branches during the many freezing Boston snow storms this winter.

Working since the early 90’s in the Holy Land to bring a different face to Palestine it was a real slap in the face when Israelis cannot bare to even say the word “Palestine” in the recent business agriculture exhibition in Tel Aviv, the Agro Mashov, our section of nine Palestinian companies including Taybeh Beer was identified as “Palestinian Authority.”

I hate to confess that I don’t even like the Palestinian Authority since I feel they need to unite and get their vision in agreement and stop fighting among the political parties. Either way I could not understand why our area in the exhibition could not be called “Palestine,” because that is where we had come from to try and pretend we are partners in an economic peace while we still have military checkpoints, the Apartheid Wall, the demolition of homes, the closure of Gaza and we need permits to move around. I am still the mayor’s wife because the Palestinian Authority has cancelled the elections so many times we lost count but waiting for new elections July 9th..

So in my heart there is whole other revolution happening and it is the effort to try and stay peaceful and see “Christ” in every Christian, Muslim and Jew that I meet. The Evil One is always working overtime to steal any love, patience, kindness and compassion our heart might try to hold. When we want to be the light in the darkness there is always a temptation to ran away to environments that have already established their basic freedoms. I do see my Lord and Savior as a revolutionary also because when Jesus says “Love your Enemies,” this is not the common every day practice. It is so much easier to “Love your Neighbor.”

It is simple to like someone who already likes you. You need all of Christ’s love in your heart to love someone who is even denying your basic existence.

This forgiveness Sunday practiced in our faith is another turning point in our life. Another invitation by Christ Himself to spiritually return to Jerusalem in this Holy Great Lenten Journey and walk with Him who gives eternal life. To think about forgiving others who have hurt us whether it was today or years ago and to see “Christ” in their soul. It’s that time of year again to think about what comes out of our mouths as much as what goes into our stomachs. Let us make peace with one another and not practice the technical fast alone. Let us have the strength to act with goodness when the others humiliate us.

If you are starting this Great Lent with a tragedy and much suffering like the people in Palestine just be patient and pray for God’s will to be revealed. And believe in miracles like I do! It is in my suffering I will come to know Christ my Lord and joyfully carry my individual cross with dignity and grace and continue to seek the fruits of the holy spirit so help me God. At Forgiveness Vespers we chant: “…Let us purify our soul, let us purify our body.” This is a reminder to forgive and let go of any anger and bitterness. Start clean! May this Great Lent be most blessed and holy for you. May you know peace in your heart for I do not see peace in the world. Forgive me.

Note: For those who wish to know more about the Christian community in the Holy Land please download the Fall issue of Road to Emmaus for your church library. I sincerely thank Mother Nectaria McLees for her time and effort in conducting this long interview. Click here for more information.


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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites and (Illinois News Network at

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post,, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

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