Israel Resource Review 27th October, 1997


Lubaviche Advice to Ben Gurion on
Who is a Jew Registration Legislation

by David S. Bedein, MSW
Media Research Analyst
Bureau Chief: Israel Resource News Agency
Beit Agron International Press Center

Following are two letters written by Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, to Prime Minister Ben Gurion in 1959, when the Prime Minister asked the Rebbe how to set certain policy to insure the continuity of Judaism, even though the government of Israel was not based entirely on the teachings of Torah ....

8 Adar 5719

His Excellency,
Mr. David Ben-Gurion
Prime Minister of Israel


This is in reply to your letter regarding my opinion on the registration of children of mixed marriages, when the father is a Jew and the mother a non-Jew who did not undergo conversion before the birth of the child.

The intent of the inquiry is - as the wording of the resolution has it in the above mentioned letter - "to define instructions that should be in harmony with the tradition accepted in all circles of Judaism, both orthodox and non-orthodox of all trends, and with the special conditions of Israel as a Sovereign State which guarantees freedom of conscience and religion as a center of ingathering the exiles."

My opinion is absolutely clear, in conformity with the Torah and the tradition accepted for generations, that in these matters there can be no validity whatsoever to a verbal declaration expressing the desire to register as a Jew. Such a declaration has no power to change the reality.

According to the Torah and the tradition of ages which still exists today, a Jew is only a person born to a Jewish mother, or a proselyte who had been converted in conformity with the exact procedure laid down in the authoritative codes of Judaism from ancient times down to the Shulchan Aruch.

The above applies not only to children whose parents or guardians declare their desire to register them as Jews, but to whosoever comes forward to declare his wish to change his status in order to enter the Jewish community.

Such a declaration has no force whatever unless he actually fulfills, or has fulfilled the appropriate conversion procedure as laid down in the Jewish codes in the Shulchan Aruch, as above.

I do not cite sources since there are clear and detailed rulings on the matter in the codes of Maimonades, the Tur, Shulchan Aruch, etc.,

All that follows now is merely an additional postscript, written with the intention of emphasizing that even if the following is not accepted, either in part or in full, this does not distract at all from the finality of the opinion I have outlined above.

The following remarks are merely a reaction to the account of the situation delineated in your letter.

  1. The question of registration, or however it may be described, is not a matter confined to Israel alone. It goes without saying - as explained in your letter - that no one may raise a barrier between the Jews of Israel and those of the Diaspora. On the contrary, all our brethren, wherever they may be, have constituted one people, from the moment of their emergence in spite of their dispersion in all the corners of the world. Consequently, the solution of the problem must be one that is acceptable to all members of the Jewish people everywhere, that is capable of forging and strengthening the bounds between unity of all Jews, and certainly not one that would be cause, even the remotest, of disunity and dissension.

  2. Accordingly, even if you may argue that the present conditions in Eretz Israel call for a special study of the above mentioned question, those conditions do not restrict the problem to Eretz Israel, but, as noted, constitute a matter of common concern to every Jew everywhere.

  3. The belonging to the Jewish people was never considered by our people as a formal, external matter. It has always been defined and delineated in terms of the commitment of the whole being of the Jew, something intimately linked with his very essence and innermost experience.

    Accordingly, any movement which disregards or belittles any of the procedures in this connection degrades the feeling of belonging to the Jewish people and cannot but be detrimental to the serious and profound attitude toward the Jew's inner link with his people.

  4. To ease the conditions of transition and affiliation to the Jewish people - particularly in the special circumstances of Eretz Israel, surrounded by countries and peoples unsympathetic towards it (that is an understatement) is to endanger considerably the security of Eretz Israel.

  5. What emerges from the above points is that even if an attempt is made to avoid the proper solution to the problem by a compromise, such as substituting for the word "Jew" a word of completely secular connotations, this will not constitute a way out, since the damage would remain both with respect to strengthen the bonds of unity with Jews everywhere, as well as from the point of view of inner strength and security.

  6. Of course, no argument can be abducted from the cases of people who have been converted in the proper manner and have nevertheless caused harm to the Jewish people. On the other hand, there is the possibility that one who merely makes a verbal declaration of his Jewishness may benefit the Jewish people. The demand for a duo conversion procedure is likewise not negated by the fact that there are non-Jewish "saints" who, as the description implies, are for all that, still "non-Jews."

  7. In the frame of reference in which the question was put, the matter discrimination was mentioned.

Discrimination can, however, only apply to granting or withholding of rights, or meting out punishments; it can have no relevance to the question of Registration which has to do with existing reality.

Let me conclude with the hope and expectation that Eretz Israel in all its aspects, both present and future, should constitute a factor uniting Jew everywhere both orthodox and non-orthodox of all trends, by attuning itself in all its affairs more and more to the name by which it is known among all the peoples of the world - "the Holy Land."

Yours truly,

His Excellency,
Mr. David Ben-Gurion,
Prime Minister of Israel


Yesterday I sent you my official reply to the question of Registration, and I have to apologize for the delay in my reply till now for a number of reasons. What is written further is not official and not even semi-official. It was once fashionable in certain circles to suggest that the Jewish religion and religious observances were necessary for those living in the Diaspora - as a shield against assimilation. But for those who can find another "antidote: in the place of religion, particularly for those living in Eretz Israel, within their own society, where the atmosphere, language, etc. (apparently) serve as ample assurances of national preservation, the Jewish religion was superfluous - what need had they to burden themselves with all its minutiae in their daily life?

But the trend of developments in Eretz Israel in the last seven or eight years has increasingly emphasized the opposite view: That however vital the need for religion amongst Diaspora Jewry, it is needed even more for the Jews in Eretz Israel.

One of the basic reasons for this is that it is precisely in Eretz Israel that there exists the danger that a new generation will grow up, a new type bearing the name of Israel but completely divorced from the past of our people and its eternal and essential values; and, moreover, hostile to it in its world outlook, its culture, and the content of its daily life; hostile - in spite of the fact that it will speak Hebrew, dwell in the land of the Patriarchs and wax enthusiastic over the Bible.

I do not wish to dwell on this painful subject at all for obvious reasons (especially since I see no need for further elaboration). One of the reasons is that I fervently hope that this calamity will not come to pass. Eventually, members of that generation itself will vehemently rise up against that danger, and will take measures to ward off the evil. Indeed it is just recently that an intense ferment has been felt in Eretz Israel and abroad demanding a spiritual content to life; if a deeper probe is made, it becomes evident that the yearning is for something transcending the reason of man.

The thirst of the youth of our eternal people will certainly not be quenched by rationalizations and theories that are the product of contemporary mortals, which will share the fate of those ideologies which made their debut only yesterday and which are no more today. Here is the place for the Law of Moses and Israel, the Oral and Written Law, our independent values dating from the day the Jewish people stood before G-d, our G-d, at Horeb and the great voice was heard which did not stop: "I am G-d your G-d...You shall have no other gods ...."

Needless to say, I do not speak here of a theoretical religiosity which serves only as a purely philosophical world outlook, or as the subject of lectures at weekends and holidays. I speak of a pervading and practical way of life, which includes the weekdays too, and all such matters which are usually termed "secular." Our faith is, after all, essentially one of practical deeds.

Now is the ideal opportunity to transform the whole canvas of life in Eretz Israel and direct it into the above-mentioned channels. This opportunity is knocking at your door; for you have been granted the ability and privilege to use it to the best advantage, a privilege and opportunity which are not given to every man and the likes of which have not presented themselves for many decades.

It is more than likely that the aforementioned lines will astonish you. Do I really imagine that by means of this letter I can change or influence an outlook many decades old, and in particular the outlook of a man who has seen the fruit of his labors? But, since in my opinion the situation in Eretz Israel is as described above - the situation in itself, the essential truth of the idea, the unique and most wonderful opportunity granted you - it is they which speak, appeal and demand.

I am sure that even without my letter you have often reflected on this But I could not allow myself to pass over this in silence - at a time when I am engaged in writing on the subject of Registration which is part and parcel of the general background outlined above. I felt it my duty to refer to this, at least in a private letter to you.

At this opportunity, and begging apology for the delay, I thank you for sending me your booklet. Let me base my next few words on what you wrote in the booklet when referring to Eretz Israel, I mean the expression "the Holy Land."

Now the epithet "holy" like that of "Jew", has had its content defined and consecrated by generations of our people, from the time of the Giving of the Law - when the title "kingdom of priests and a holy nation" was bestowed on us and when the Jewish people were granted the Holy Land according to its borders "the land of the Canaanite and the Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates" - till the present day and including it.

Yours truly,


As for your question with regard to my attitude towards the Holy Land etc., I trust you saw my reply to the question "what is a Jew?," which has been published both here in America and in Eretz Yisroel. You particularly question with regard to immigration and settling in Eretz Yisroel does not indicate whether it refers to yourself or is it on a general way.

But my answer would depend on the circumstances of each individual, for it is not possible to give a blanket advice on such an important question.

I should like, however, to emphasize one general point. No matter how much is expected of a Jew in regard to Torah and Mitzvahs, wherever he may be, a great deal more is expected of him if he is in Eretz Yisroel, of which the Torah says "It is the land of which the eyes of G-d, they G-d are, from he beginning of the year to the end of the year." So much so that it is regarded as a Holy Land even among non-Jews.

Our Sages refer to it as "The Palace of the King." A person wishing to enter the Royal Palace must be prepared to answer such questions as for what business is he there and he must be prepared in every way. It is demonstrated by his conduct and actions that he realizes he is in the Royal Palace. It is unnecessary to elaborate.

May G-d grant that you will succeed in what is your tune and inner purpose in life, namely to spread Yiddishkeit, and in an ever-growing way, and may you have good news to report always.

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Hebcom Human Rights Bulletin:
Follow-up: 22nd October 1997

Gaza --- Arrested Professor Charged with "Collaboration"

On 2 July, the Palestinian Preventative Security Service (PSS) arrested Dr. Fathi Ahmed Subuh. Dr. Subuh is the head of the Department of Education at al Azhar University in Gaza and the Director of the Educational Center in Tuffah.

PSS officers came to Dr. Subuh's house at 6:30 am, produced an arrest warrant, and took him to the PSS interrogation center at Tel Howa. He has not been allowed visits from his family since his arrest and there has been some confusion as to the reasons for his incarceration.

Hebcom's Political Correspondent, Amit Lesham, has received information through her contacts within the P.A. that the professor has been charged with collaborating with the Israelis.

Dr. Subuh, is 44 years old, married and has three children. He is the head of the "People to People program" for the Gaza area. In this capacity he has attended dialogues with members of the " Abraham foundation". Most recently he met with Gush Etzion Settler Myron Joshua at a discussion group sponsored by the foundation. Mr. Joshua was shocked and concerned when he learned of Dr. Subuh's detention.

In her report that Ms. Lesham filed with Hebcom she points out that Dr. Subuh is also working in cooperation with Mr. Eddy Kaufman of the Geneva Foundation.

Reportedly the issue of collaboration came to a head when Dr. Subuh indiscreetly asked two questions on his final exams: 1. What were the problems with administrative corruption within al Azhar University, and, 2. A question on the corruption within the Palestinian Authority.

Within hours Dr. Subuh joined the hundreds of innocent Palestinians who have disappeared into the Palestinian Authority Gulag.

UPDATE: 22nd October 1997

To this date Dr. Subuh has not been released from the Gulag. According to sources within the Palestinian Authority, the Doctor has been subjected to both physical and mental torture.


Please do not let this man be forgotten.

Call or fax the Palestinian Authority at:

President Yasser Arafat (972) (7) 822365/6
Justice Minister Freih Abu Medein (972) (7) 822236
Deputy Attorney General Mazen Sisalem (972) (7) 824503
email to: Palestine National Authority:
PLO United Nations representative:
Request that this man either be given a trial or released.

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Jews and Palestinians Building a Common Future
by Lionel Traubman and Nahida Salem

A Jewish dentist and a Palestinian businesswoman, we with others in our 5-year-old Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group have learned a lot about reconciliation. And we know it isn't easy.

But after 57 meetings, we have moved from fear to trust, from alienation to cooperation. We can talk. We can listen. We can cooperate. And if we can do it, so can others.

We began in 1992 with a handful of Bay Area families. Rejecting the popular gloom and hopelessness of the endless Middle East violence, we wanted to capitalize on our successes of the '80s working with the Beyond War movement's grassroots team-building between "enemies" -- prominent Soviets and Americans, then Israelis and Palestinians.

We saw how face-to-face dialogue changed people's minds and hearts. We knew model-building worked. Realizing that American citizens and government are strongly connected to Middle East events, it was time to put our global experience to use in our own community.

Today we are 30 Americans -- Jews and both Muslim and Christian Palestinians, with several "others" who moderate and offer important support. We are in education, medicine, manufacturing, family businesses, and volunteerism. Among us are Holocaust survivors and 20th generation Palestinians.

While learning to work together in our local community, our many concrete projects have included material assistance to hospitals and schools in need, equally, in Israel and Palestinian Gaza and West Bank.

Descendants of Abraham with sister root cultures and languages, we have experienced our cousinhood. And we like it. By meeting face to face, we no longer just "study" or "hear about" each other. We now "know" and thus understand and want the best for one another. It has changed our lives.

"These are the worst of times, so why aren't you hopeless?" people ask us. "Why do you do it, when others want to quit?"

When we are impossibly separated by our history and suffering, overcome with anger and pride, even deeper inside ourselves we find a stronger belief and knowing. It is the ancient insight of our common ancestor, Abraham, that all is one -- we're totally interdependent and interconnected, neighbors forever. So we want to learn to live together that way, and not waste valuable time.

Also, we Palestinians and Jews believe what sociologist Margaret Mead said: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

Our small dialogue group believes if we can talk, listen and cooperate, so can anyone in the world. Yes, even in the Middle East! It's just a matter of time.

Like a newborn baby -- Jewish or Palestinian -- we have crawled, then walked. We're on our feet, but now feel rushed by what Ambassador Edward Djerejian, former Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, calls "the worst case scenario," when violence from both sides is on the rise and the peace process is not moving forward.

"Take bigger strides, walk faster," crises beckon to our Semitic peace child. "Pick up the pace. Grow up ster," come the calls from our brothers and sisters and cousins in the Middle East.

Hearing the urgent call for a mature step onto new ground, we could do no less than propose the once unimaginable, unacceptable, impossible. The needed, the dreamed of, the desired -- the possible.

So on a Saturday night this November, in a hotel near the shore of San Francisco Bay, 400 Jewish and Palestinian Americans, and others, will meet around dinner tables to begin "Building A Common Future," to change the nature of our relationships. Perhaps nervously and with shaky legs at first, but with eyes fixed on what we know is possible. And Ambassador Dennis Ross, U.S. envoy to the Middle East peace process, will be there to acknowledge the hopes and limits of government negotiations, and to call forth citizens to participate in reconciliation.

It was Dr. Harold Saunders, former Assistant Secretary of State and negotiator of the Camp David Accords, who defined the "public peace process" and asked citizens to ascend to participate fully, in partnership with governments. "There are some things," Saunders said, "that only governments can do, such as negotiating binding agreements. But there are some things that only citizens outside government can do, such as changing human relationships."

In that spirit we will be together on that special Saturday night. We'll walk toward one another on tried but not yet mature legs, seeking the common ground and relationships we've never had but need.

What do we expect? Maybe a few, maybe many, good women and men will go home and redirect their ideas and energies, resources and philanthropy -- even their institutions and lives -- away from the illusion of individual survival, and toward bridge-building activities. Hopefully, we will make a difference, a ripple of intelligence and inspiration to travel out beyond us, even to the Middle East.

Would a miracle help? Yes, it would. But let's no longer doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Especially when it's time.

Nahida Salem is president of the Ramallah Club and its previous Woman of the Year. She lives in Belmont, Calif. with her husband and three children. Lionel Traubman has a practice of pediatric dentistry in San Francisco. He and his wife live in San Mateo, Calif. They have two grown children.

More information about the November 15th relationship- building evening, "Building A Common Future," is on the Web at You may call Nahida and Adham Salem (650-593-5769), or Len and Libby Traubman (650-574-8303).

Lionel "Len" Traubman, DDS, MSD
1448 Cedarwood Drive, San Mateo, CA 94403
Day/415-333-6811 Evening/650-574-8303

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Sheikh Abdulleh Nimer Darwish
Israeli Arab Islamic Movement

by Aaron Lerner

IMRA interviewed Sheikh Abdulleh Nimer Darwish, leader of the Israeli Arab Islamic Movement, in Hebrew, on October 24th. The entire interview follows:

IMRA: You made headlines with the story that Sheik Yassin was ready for compromise. Now we hear him say "we won't compromise on a centimeter of land" and Masha'al is quoted in the Jordanian weekly Star saying "nothing will change the path of Hamas". How do you see this?

Darwish: Nu.

IMRA: How do you see this.

Darwish: Write this down: One should recall that the PLO before agreeing to UN Resolution 242 and at the same time of the Rabat Conference during the 70's and at the same time that the conference was taking place, the late Abu Iyad went out to the press and said, and I quote, 'the armed struggle against the Israeli occupation will continue and the rifle is the only means for liberating Palestine from the river to the sea.' Half an hour after this Iyad declaration, Abu Sharif, the spokesman of the PLO, came out and declared, and I quote, 'the PLO under the leadership of Chairman Yasser Arafat, agrees to accept UN Resolutions 242 and 338 and commits to mutual recognition between an independent Palestinian state and the state of Israel.'

What I want to say now, is that the hudna, the agreement propose by Sheikh Yassin, is a proposal. And until the response of the state of Israel is heard to this proposal, it is impossible to silence the Hamas spokesmen who call until now for the liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea. The true test will be after the response of the prime minister of Israel and his serious response to Sheikh Yassin's proposal, namely the hudna. If after this there are declarations of Hamas people for the destruction of the state of Israeli and its removal from the world political map, then you will have the right to say that they are playing with slogans.

IMRA: During the period you are talking about, the hudna, is this a period during which there is no strengthening of the Palestinian side or what? Right now you have a given situation regarding the balance of power. During this period of cease fire or hudna is there also some kind of freeze so that the balance of power doesn't change or can each side try to strengthen and try to change balance of power?

Darwish: The balance of power between Israel and the Palestinians? Look, I am astonished by your question. Look, look, in Arabic there is a saying [in Arabic not translated]. The colonialist Zionist movement, since its creation has thought that it is the smartest in the world and with the strongest media presence, and so we say, the Palestinians have come, and they are the wisest. They also have media experience. Yes, as long as Israel strengthens the Palestinians and the Arabs have the right to strengthen. With one goal: to push off the Israeli tendency to conquer more and more land.

IMRA: Every Palestinian I have interviewed to now has explained to me that their approach today is the result of the balance of power and that if that changed in the future it would change their approach. The decision which would be made after the hudnah - after ten years - how would that be affected?

Darwish: I understand the question. I am not a military man, but everyone knows that a peace agreement - if we can it a hudnah or a peace agreement, even an agreement between great powers, does not rule out the choice of the great power to strengthen. Not because it wants to renew the war, but rather in order to deter the other side from starting war. Don't forget that a military force is not always an attacking force. Today, in the world in the spirit of reconciliation between the powers and blocs there continues the strengthening of forces because military strength today is not a force of aggression but rather a force of deterrence.

IMRA: The agreements between Egypt and Jordan have no dates. They are, for all intents and purposes, eternal. Why here do you talk about only a limited period?

Darwish: I think you have to go back and reread the Camp David Agreement between Israel and Egypt and the treaty between Israel and Jordan and you will find there that it is the right of every generation to reexamine the agreements but there is no right to violate the agreements. This is the very meaning of the hudna. The hudna is for ten or twenty, thirty or a hundred years but it is the right of every generation to reexamine it in order to strengthen it - not to violate it.

IMRA: Is there a problem from the standpoint of Islamic religious law to forgo on the status of waqf [holy land] for all of Palestine?

Darwish: Look. When you agree to a hudna everything is open to deliberations. Right now religious law sets that Palestine is a waqf. And the law gives the possibility for a Palestinian leader to sign an agreement or hudna with the Israeli side. At the time that they are sitting in negotiations on accepting the hudna agreement there the question is raised: do the Moslems and Palestinians leave the area within which Israel has established its independent state as an Islamic waqf or is it now an independent sovereign state with an independent sovereign Palestinian state next to it and we end the entire religious law issue. This is a question which must be examined and I am certain that reasonable answers will be found for it.

Dr. Aaron Lerner,
Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
P.O.BOX 982 Kfar Sava
Tel: (+972-9) 760-4719
Fax: (+972-9) 741-1645

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Statement of the Catholic Prelate in Israel:
No persecution of Christians in Palestine;
Do Not Buy Lies!

by Fr. Labib Kobti
Representative of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem

Dear Friends,

We want you to stand with the Truth and take a position with us.

As Representative of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. I have just finished to talk with Jerusalem asking them about that report: "Today The Jerusalem Post published a government report claiming that Palestinian Christians are being persecuted by the PA."

This is absolutly untrue, they said, it a big lie. The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem assured me that all is untrue and all is lies.

On the Contrary the Head of Christian Churches, they told me, and all Christians are well respected by the P.A and no such things had happened from our Brothers and sisters the Arab Palestinian Muslims against the Arab Christians in Palestine.

We heard about it on the Israeli news only, they told me, and we were very upset. On the contrary harmony and love and respect are the right words to use to define the good relations between Arab Muslims and Arab Chritians. Please stop all kind of cold war against our Muslim Brothers and sisters.

I ask you to assure all your friends, the Media and everybody that they should not buy lies. Recent history shows also absolutely the contrary of the Jerusalem Post report:

  1. The Arab Muslims did not persecute the Arab Christians, they do belong to same traditons and heritage, some Arab Christian Families has the same family names of the Arab Muslims. Some fanatics (created and financed from outside) had created some time, somewhere, anywhere from Muslims side, ( also Christian or Jewish had thjeir fanatics) some tension, but this had never been a policy or a stand of our Brothers and sisters the Muslim Arabs against the Arab Christians. Never.

  2. Before 1920 the Arab Muslims and Arab Christians were living on good terms with the Jews of Palestine. Jews were welcomed in the Arab world, and some even moved into the higher economic strata in these societies, at a time when they were being persecuted in Europe. They were received by Egypt, Iraq, Marocco, Algeria, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and others.

  3. For the past millenium, Jews were never persecuted by Arab Muslims (after the Zionist enterprise, Arab Muslims as Arab Christians found that bthe Jewish as people are taking their country they started to consider them as ennemies, and started to resisit and defend their fundamental rights on their home Country Palestine). In contrast to Europe, history proves that Jews were treated better in countries ruled by Muslim rulers than in any other countries.

  4. Arab Christians who are a minority in the Middle East and especially in Jerusalem and the Holy Land have never persecuted Muslims or Jews. The Arab Christians of the Middle East and the Holy Land have nothing to do with the stands taken by apocalyptic Christian organizations in the west, such as The Christian Coalition of the Reverand Pat Robertson, in the United States, or with their philosophies with regard to the Middle East conflict or with the Christian Zionists and their International embassy in Jerusalem.The Arab Christians of the Middle East, should not be held accountable for past persecutions of Jews by European or American Christian groups.

  5. We refuse as both Arab Christians and Arab Muslims the propaganda that wants to prove that there were any studied or willed persecution form our Muslim brothers and Sisters against their Brothers and Sisters the Christians.

    We consider it as a mere propaganda against Islam, a cold war against our Muslim Brother that bebefits only the Zionists and Israel.

    That progaganda should stop because it is absolutely motivated. It could show also that those who are spreading the word about a Muslim persectution against Christians are the people who created that kinds of tensions, if any, between Arab Christians and Arab Muslims in the past to benefit from it.

    The Experience of Lebanon is a proof: When Israel ivaded Lebanon on 1982, one of the Umbrellas was the propaganda saying that Israel was going to defend the Christian Communties of Lebanon against Islam. Nobody to day beleives that. But at that time the media made a lot of innocent people all over the world beleive that Israel was the Savior of Lebanon.

    Please stop all kind of Progadanda against our Muslim brothers and Sister, stop the cold war against Islam, look to the mere truth and stand with it by all good means.

    Please copy and send everywhere, Thanks.

    Fr. Labib Kobti
    Representative of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem

    For more information, e-mail me at, or visit Al-Bushra at

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