Palestinian Christian Leader to visit New Zealand
Media Advisory: Palestinian Christian Leader to visit New Zealand February-March 2012 – Available for interview
Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is pleased to host the Secretary General of Caritas Jerusalem Claudette Habesch for a visit to New Zealand 24 February – 13 March 2012. Ms Habesch is available for media interviews.
Caritas Jerusalem is the humanitarian and development organisation for the Catholic Church in the Holy Land, based in Jerusalem. It was founded in the aftermath of the Six-Day War in 1967, and Ms Habesch has led it since 1987.
She has played a leading role in the Caritas Internationalis confederation of 168 Catholic agencies working for justice, peace and development. From 1999 to 2007 she was President of Caritas Middle-East and Northern Africa region (Caritas MONA) and Vice-President of Caritas Internationalis.
A passionate defender of Palestinians’ rights and peace in the region, Ms Habesch is a member of the Committee for Christian Affairs of the Palestinian Authority (PA), and of the Islamic-Christian Commission funded by the PA to support Jerusalem and the Holy Sites. She has been active since 1992 in the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) and in the Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees. She also participates in the inter-religious activities of Rabbis for Human Rights
Ms Habesch was born in Jerusalem. At the age of 7, during the war of independence for Israel in 1948 (called the ‘nakba’ or catastrophe by Palestinians), her family was expelled from their home in Jerusalem. They could never enter the house again and never received compensation. Palestinian families continue to be evicted from their houses in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
In a recent Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Ms Habesch retells her story and how it has influenced her work defending Palestinian rights today.
‘I am prepared to forgive them, but I will never forget the years of suffering by the little girl of 7, in whose bed another child was sleeping and whose bicycle another child was riding… I recognize the right of the State of Israel to exist in 78 percent of the territories of Mandatory Palestine, but I do not recognise its right to expel Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem and put in Jews.’
Ms Habesch has three children, two sons and one daughter, and several grandchildren. She lives with her extended family in East Jerusalem.
Claudette Habesch will be a guest of Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand for its Annual Lent Appeal (22 Feb – 6 April). She will be talking to parishes, church groups, social justice groups and schools. While her schedule is still being confirmed, recommended times for media interviews are below. Pre-visit interviews by phone may also be possible to arrange.
Watch our recently released video The Holy Land: Hearts of Hope (15
mins) on Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand health care
partnership with Caritas Jerusalem in the context of the
Holy Land today.
More about our work with Caritas Jerusalem here.