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By Lynn and Bob Gillen

Links for Learners | February 2002

The Middle East Peace Process: Patriarch Michel Sabbah's View


Finding Curriculum Connections
Finding Links
Understanding Basic Terms
Historical Perspectives
Perspectives From the Nations in Conflict
Perspectives From the International Community
Research Resources

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Links for Learning

Finding Curriculum Connections for High School Teachers and Students

This month’s Links for Learners will support high school curriculum in:
Scriptures—Biblical lands
World history/Current events—Middle East timelines and maps
Christian lifestyles—forgiveness; brotherhood
Government—the role of international law

Finding Links for Discussion Group Leaders and Participants

Look for connections for use in programs outside the classroom, such as:

Parish sacramental preparation programs and CCD classes; young adult discussion programs; seasonal discussion groups; RCIA programs.
Parents will also find this material useful in initiating discussion around the dinner table, in home study, at family activities.

Understanding Basic Terms in This Month’s Article

Look for the key words and terms below as you read the article. Definitions or explanations can be researched from the article itself or from the resource materials cited throughout the Links for Learners. You can also find a list of terms on the glossary page of

Holy Land



Roman Catholic



Oslo Accords




Palestinian Islamic

Latin Patriarchate

Eastern-rite Catholic


UN Resolutions

Madrid Conference

Historical Perspectives

The history of the Middle East spans thousands of years, from biblical times to the present. Timelines can provide a historical overview. As you review the timelines, look for events that are significant to the current conflict between Israel and Palestine.

  • The UK's Guardian online news site outlines key events in Middle East conflicts. The Guardian also has a brief history focusing on the Arab-Israeli situation.
  • Thinkquest presents a thorough timeline of history in the Middle East.
  • The MidEast Web offers a detailed timeline of the Middle East's Israel-Palestine conflict.
  • United Nations Resolution 242 in 1967 has been a key discussion point in the ongoing conflict.
  • The Guardian lists a thorough glossary of terms for the Middle East.

A careful reading of the timelines will reveal that 13—almost all—of the present Middle Eastern nations, including Israel, are relatively new, having gained their independence only in the years between 1922 and 1971. To gain familiarity with these often-changing national boundaries, you may find helpful several map sites:

Perspectives From the Nations in Conflict

For a snapshot look at how the present leaders of Israel and Palestine think, read Ariel Sharon's recent speech to the Israeli people. Compare this to statements made by Yassar Arafat and other Arab leaders at a March 2001 summit.

Terror is a constant in the Middle East. How, and why, do the Israeli and Palestinian peoples live with daily conflict, even the threat of death? To capture a feeling for their lives, read and compare a resident's account of daily life in Palestine with a visitor's account of a recent trip to Israel. Do the accounts have anything in common? What do the authors reveal about their perceptions of the "other side"? Frustration, resentment, anger, rage—all fuel both military aggression and fanaticism. Jewish and Palestinian people both want to have a homeland where their right ot exist is acknowledged by their neighbors, where they have freedom of religion and where they can raise their families in peace. Terror from either side will destroy those hopes and, in the long term, fail to bring peace to either Jews or Palestinians.

In his World Day of Peace message for January 1, 2002, Pope John Paul II pleaded for a negotiated solution to the festering Arab-Israeli conflict: "The rights and demands of each party can be taken into proper account and balanced in an equitable way, if and when there is a will to let justice and reconciliation prevail. Once more, I urge the beloved peoples of the Holy Land to work for a new era of mutual respect and contructive accord."

Radical Muslims view the United States as a "failed Christian nation," pointing to American materialism and pornography, for example. Should we not be challenged to reflect on our own shortcomings? Can we find opportunities to be stronger witnesses of faith and morality to others who do not share our beliefs?

To learn more about life in the Middle East, see Interlink Books. Their Middle East Collection features novels written by authors native to various countries in that region. For an account of Jewish refugees searching for a homeland after the Holocaust of World War II, see Leon Uris's novel Exodus.

Perspectives From the International Community

Patriarch Michel Sabbah, the focus of this month's article, sees his role as one who brings peace to the Middle East by prayerfully telling the truth. He urges a return to the national borders of 1967 and compliance with international law.

International law is considered by many to be the most effective way to bring an equitable peace to the Middle East as well as to other war-torn areas of our world. International justice will replace the thirst for revenge. Pope John Paul II recently called for a "...return to the negotiating table on an equal footing, with due respect for international law." The Holy Land, revered by all the descendents of Abraham (Christians, Jews and Muslims alike), must be a symbol of peace, a sign of interfaith respect and brotherhood, not a continuing source of violence. The pope calls for Jerusalem to be "a City of Peace for all peoples."

Numerous religious and nondenominational organizations exist to promote justice and peace:

Some of these groups welcome members and volunteer workers, and several offer internships for individuals interested in working for justice and peace.

Research Resources

Try accessing some of these Internet sources for further reference. Be aware, however, that some of these sites may charge for downloading articles contained within the site’s archives.

The New York Times
The Los Angeles Times
Time magazine
The Associated Press
The Chicago Tribune
People magazine
The History Channel
The Miami Herald
The Close Up Foundation Washington, D.C.-based organization
ABC News
Channel One’s online resource
The Vatican
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
The New American Bible
Documents of Vatican II

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