US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Rare good news in the Holy Land

Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

It's rare to be able to celebrate a victory for peace in Israel and Palestine, but a friend has brought to my attention the success of a U.S. Catholic interviewee from a couple of years ago. Archbishop Elias Chacour's Mar Elias Educational Institutions has won accreditation for what will be called Pope Benedict XVI University. The accreditation, approved by Israel's Cabinet in March, provides Arabs who live in Israel with the only Arabic language university-level education in Israel. (Bethlehem University lies behind the security barrier separating Israel from the West Bank, making it almost impossible for Arabic-speaking students to attend.)

The Mar Elias institutions are open to all the residents of Israel: Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and Druze, and its faculty will reflect the diversity of the student body, according to a letter from the president of the board of trustees. The Mar Elias institutions now provide education from kindergarten to university. In the words of the founder, Archbishop Elias Chacour: “Here we are not negotiating peace, we are building peace on top of desks!”

I'd call that good news. You can read the U.S. Catholic interview with Charcour here, along with other recent good news related to Bethlehem University. Watch also for an interview with Rabbi Ruth Langer, who comments on the pope's recent visit to the Holy Land, coming in the August issue of U.S. Catholic.