Anna Lekas Miller 03-01-2016
James Haines-Young

James Haines-Young

AFRAH ZOUHEIR FLEXES HER HAND as she purposefully stirs a pot of lemon juice, the fruity aroma filling the air as it rises to a boil.

“It needs to be hot in order to mix well with the sugars before it cools down and thickens,” she explains. “Then we bottle it and let it settle into a syrup.”

Zouheir has all of the looks of a professional chef. Her shoulder-length dark brown hair is tied back in a hairnet and her hands are coated in plastic gloves. She wears an apron over her sweatshirt, fanning the air, making sure that the lemon syrup drink she is making smells as it is supposed to; she appears undaunted about managing multiple pots simultaneously simmering over an open fire.

However, this is her first time working in a kitchen—at least professionally. In Mosul, Iraq, where she is from, she was a kindergarten teacher. But when the Islamic State invaded her home city in late 2013 and began targeting religious minorities, including Christians like Zouheir’s family, she grabbed her belongings and fled to Lebanon with her husband and four children. After a short stint in Beirut, the capital city, where rent is expensive and prejudice against refugees, among other factors, makes work hard to come by, she and her husband moved to Falougha, a mountain village where the air is fresh and, most important, the rent is cheap.

Alessandro Speciale 09-17-2012
Poster of Pope Benedict XVI in Beruit, Lebanon.

Poster of Pope Benedict XVI in Beruit, Lebanon.

BEIRUT — As violent protests against an anti-Islam film spread to much of the Muslim world on Friday, Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Lebanon to a warm welcome from Christian and Muslim leaders.

The pontiff's appeal for peace and reconciliation in the region, however, stood in jarring contrast with violent clashes in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, which left one dead and 25 injured.    

Landing at Beirut's airport in the early afternoon, Benedict praised Lebanon as an example of "coexistence and respectful dialogue between Christians and their brethren of other religions."    

Without referring expressly to the unrest, the pope warned that the country's "equilibrium" is "extremely delicate."  

Alessandro Speciale 09-12-2012
Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI

The Vatican confirmed on Wednesday that Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Lebanon will go ahead as planned, despite growing tension in the region after the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya by a mob enraged by an anti-Islam film.

The Vatican's chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the Vatican was closely monitoring developments in the region but there were no signs of specific security concerns for Benedict's trip so far.

Benedict is scheduled to leave Friday for a three-day visit to Lebanon despite rising instability spilling over from a deadly civil war in neighboring Syr

Gary M. Burge 08-02-2011

I prefer my revolutions to be simple: A corrupt dictator/tyrant, an oppressed population, inspired reformers who risk their lives, calls for democracy, waves of marchers in the streets, background music from Les Misérables. The stories from Tunis and Cairo were epochal. The Arab spring was in full bloom as calls for participatory government could be heard from every corner of the Middle East.

Then there was Syria. The Assad government has been infamous in its intolerance to dissent. It is a military regime whose 30-year leadership under Hafez al-Assad (1930-2000) established it as one of the most severe in the region. In 2,000, after the death of Hafez, the world was intrigued to see his second son -- Bashar al-Assad -- ascend the throne. Bashar was an ophthalmologist who had studied in London, but because of his older brother's death in a car accident in 1994, he was called to follow his father. Bashar speaks English and French fluently and has been as critical of the U.S. as he has been of Israel.

Gary M. Burge 06-27-2011
I send many of my students to the Middle East as interns. In fact, Wheaton College has an entire program devoted to student short-term placement.
Lynne Hybels 06-14-2011
In 2008, as I heard the increasing public rhetoric of hostility emanating from the Middle East, I found myself wondering what Jesus would say and do if he were here in the flesh today.
Aaron Taylor 04-26-2011
Is the gospel about Jesus rescuing us from hell and transporting us to heaven
Bryan Farrell 01-27-2011
The massive anti-government protests that flared in Egypt yesterday, in which
Duane Shank 11-30-2010
This past Sunday and Monday the news media published their first summaries of the documents they received from WikiLeaks which contained more than 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables.
Jim Rice 06-11-2010
Sometimes it feels like there's hardly enough outrage to go around. I started this post to condemn the recent, well, outrageous, words of Helen Thomas.
Tony Campolo 05-19-2010

I recently returned from a speaking engagement at the Bethlehem Bible College; and what I witnessed firsthand sent chills up my back. Listening to the horror stories told to me by oppressed Palestinians elicited feelings ranging from indignation to compassion.

Rose Marie Berger 05-18-2010
I was in a "webinar" (live online presentation thingy) recently with Erica Chenoweth from Wesleyan University.
The taboo was finally broken and the genie is out of the bottle, despite some attempts to force it back.

Epiphany has passed as well as Coptic Christmas earlier in January. A beautifully carved olive wood figure I bought in Bethlehem a couple of years ago titled "The Flight to Egypt" is the last of my Christmas decorations.

Becky Garrison 10-09-2009
When covering film festivals, I find I have to be careful not to see too many war-themed flicks in rapid succession.
Ryan Beiler 06-09-2009

Another amazing grassroots effort in the Middle East is Combatants for Peace, a group of former Palestinian fighters and Israeli soldiers who have united to reject violence and tell their stories to each other as a way of finding peace.

Ryan Beiler 06-08-2009

When President Obama was giving his speech in Cairo, I was just across the Red Sea in Aqaba, Jordan, and caught a glimpse on a corner store TV, the translation making it hard to hear his words.

It is undeniable that the Palestinian people - Muslim and Christians - have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than 60 years they have endured the pain of dislocation.
Ryan Beiler 03-23-2009

In last week's SojoMail, the quote of the week was from an Israeli squad leader describing the incredulous reactions of his men when he took measures to protect civilian lives during the invasion of Gaza.