Firsthand in Gaza

Firsthand in Gaza

I got a nice surprise today—an email from a man I interviewed for St. Anthony Messenger a few years ago. Sami el-Yousef is from a Christian family that has lived in Jerusalem for generations. After spending some years in the United States, he like many emigrees, decided to move back to Jerusalem to help his people. He served as the dean of a the only Christian college in Palestine, the Christian Brothers-run Bethlehem University, then moved to the front lines. He became the Jerusalem director of the Pontifical Mission, known here in the U.S. as the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.

Sami was guide for a group of Catholic journalists throughout Palestine. We got a look at the “wrong side of the tracks” in Israeli-Palestine conflict that we all hear about in the news. It was hard to walk away from that without a feeling of great appreciation for the plight of the Palestinians, both Muslim and Christian. That’s all a long way of introducing Sami’s email that I received today.

Sami has been behind the closed borders of Gaza, the Gaza Strip we hear about in the news. It’s a small area unto itself, with the sea on one side and Israel on the other. Sami gave us a report from the inside, telling of the vibrant Christian community, among Muslims, living under very difficult conditions, far from the public eye.

He writes, “As has been the case from previous visits, I returned from Gaza inspired by this small Christian community, determined more than ever before to stay the course and continue to find ways to support our Christian institutions in Gaza and help them grow and continue to provide quality services to the whole Palestinian community at large. Their presence and determination despite all the odds should be an inspiration for all of us. They are the true heroes.”

You can see his entire report by clicking on the link below.

Gaza – October 2012

Read my St. Anthony Messenger story about Sami here.

Photo courtesy of Sami el-Yousef


About the Author

John Feister is editor in chief of St. Anthony Messenger magazine. He has a B.A. in American Studies from University of Dayton, and master's degrees in Humanities and in Theology from Xavier University. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada, and was previously an adviser to the Communications Committee of the U.S. Catholic bishops (2000-2006). His latest book, Thank You, Sisters: Stories of Women Religious and How They Enrich Our Lives is available from the Franciscan Media catalog. He has cauthored four books with Richard Rohr (Franciscan Media), and coauthored, with Charlene Smith, the biography of Thea Bowman (Orbis books).
  • Randall Ward

    we need to hear more from Christians in the Palestine area.