“Let us work together to replace despair with HOPE, fear with human SECURITY and humiliation with DIGNITY”

Conference Program – Day 2

Conference Program – Day 2 2016-10-24T07:17:37+00:00


Saturday, October 15, 2016
9:00 am – 5:00 pm

9:00 am – 10:00 am

Introduction and Welcoming Remarks

Introduction by Moderators Saliba Sarsar, Ph.D.,  Professor of Political Science, Monmouth University, and Chair of HCEF’s Research and Publication Committee, and Stephen B. Corbin, D.D.S., M.P.H.,  Former Special Olympics Senior Vice President of Community Impact and Support, Washington, DC.

Welcoming Remarks by  Sir Rateb Rabie, KCHS,  Founder, President, and CEO, Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation.

10:00 am – 11:00 am

Palestinian Christians in the Face of Uncertainty


Palestinian Christians are in a constant state of doubt and insecurity as they continue to endure the Israeli occupation and growing despair. Do they remain steadfast in their homeland or do they emigrate as millions in the Diaspora have already done? This session will address the dire conditions affecting Palestinian Christians such as high unemployment, restricted mobility, and limited access to goods and services. Our esteemed speakers will identify signs of hope for the future.


Moderator: Fadi Deeb, D.M.A., Lecturer and Coordinator, Music Program, Birzeit University




1.     Fr. Michael McDonagh,  Chancery Office, Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem


2.     Fr. Robert Waller, Pastor, Archdiocese of Cincinnati, OH


3.     Rev. Dr. Carl Hofmann, Pastor of Congregational Care, First Presbyterian Church, Boulder, CO

11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Christians Under Pressure: The Weight of  the Current Conditions in the Middle East


Unrest throughout the Middle East, in the form of extremism and civil unrest, has placed the lives of ordinary people in extraordinary danger. Arab Christians and other religious minorities are indigenous to the Middle East and are essential elements of the region’s cultural, religious, historical, and national fabric. Without this indigenous presence there, the Middle East and the future will be terribly impoverished. Panelists will discuss the past and current status of Middle Eastern Christians and other religious minorities, specifically in Syria and Iraq, and ways that we can help to alleviate the weight of their duress through support of and participation in different initiatives.


Moderator: Dorothy S. Buck, Ph.D. Secretary of the Board of Directors, Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation




1.     Ambassador David Mack, Rtd.,  Scholar, Middle East Institute  

2.     H.E. Robert J. Carlson, Archbishop of St. Louis MO, and HCEF Advisory Board

3.     Imam Yahya Hendi, Muslim Chaplain, Georgetown University


12:00 pm – 12:30 pm


HCEF Audiovisual Presentation

12:30 pm- 1:45 pm


1:45 pm – 2:30 pm

Keynote Speaker:  His Eminence The Most Reverend Metropolitan Joseph, Archbishop of New York and all of North America,  Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America


His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, embodying strong spiritual, ascetical, cultural, and intellectual traits, is an ardent advocate for human rights, social justice, and peace throughout the Middle East. The Antiochian Church of North America is home to a majority of Arab Christians- Syrian, Lebanese, and Palestinian. In his keynote address, His Eminence will share the important steps needed and tremendous advances being made for improving the climate for Christians in the Middle East.

2:30 pm – 3:30 pm

Tourism for Peace : Support for the Holy Land through Pilgrimages


Throughout the centuries, the Holy Land has hosted droves of pilgrims of different faiths—Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Partaking in these sacred pilgrimages fulfills significant spiritual and personal needs. To this end, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and HCEF have joined efforts to encourage pilgrims and tourists of all backgrounds to visit the Holy Land by way of regional tourism. A regional approach utilizes Jordan as the traditional entry point to the Holy Land, used by religious leaders across the ages, and emphasizes the importance of visiting the Palestinian territories (Bethlehem in particular) in addition to Israel. The high-profile leaders comprising this panel will explore the challenges and unique opportunities of religious tourism to the Holy Land and the support it gives to the Palestinian economy.

Moderator: Sami B. Khoury,  President, Holy Land Incoming Tour Operators Association, HLITOA


1.     H.E. Rula Ma’ayah, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Palestine

2.     Jin-Yung Woo, Adviser on Tourism and Culture to the Secretary-General, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) of the United Nations

3.     Rateb Y. Rabie, KCHS, Founder, President, and CEO of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation

3:30pm -4:00pm

Bethlehem Museum: Preserving Palestine’s Heritage, Identity, and Culture


Learn about the critical role that the Bethlehem Museum plays in strengthening Palestinian identity, heritage, and culture in a modern context. Discussions will emphasize the various ways a museum can be developed as a center for saving cultural heritage, and also preserving a Palestinian Christian identity despite the political challenges presented by past and current events in the Near East.

Moderator: Abigail Galván, Executive Assistant to the President and CEO and Special Programs Coordinator

Speaker: Dr. Cynthia Finlayson, Associate Professor of Anthropology/Archeology and Museum Studies, Brigham Young University and Bethlehem Museum Consultant

4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Presidential Election Results: Implications for U.S. Policy in the Middle East 


The United States has goals to promote, and interests to protect in the Middle East. Historically, U.S. presidents have had the largest impact on the formulation of foreign policy. The presidential election results on November 8 will be significant as they indicate possible shifts in American policies. This panel will explore the implications and prospects for equality, prosperity, and peace given a Democratic, Republican, or Independent win.


Moderator: Elias G. Saboura, Principal, Beiramee & Saboura P.C.



1. H.E. Maen Areikat, Chief Representative, General Delegation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization to the US

2. Khalil Jahshan, Executive Director, Arab Center Washington DC, Inc.

3. Dr. James Zogby, Co-Founder and President, Arab American Institute and Member, Executive Committee of the Democratic National Committee

5:00 pm

Closing Remarks

** Open to the Public 

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