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I wish President Trump Came to Taybeh
Maria C. Khoury, Ed. D


Returning one more time to the only all-Christian village that exists in Palestine has been a challenge. But the most amazing thing of all was the great blessing to light candles on my first day at the fourth century ruins of Saint George Byzantine Church built the same time St. Helen asked for the churches in Jerusalem and Bethlehem to be built. It's simply the local treasure. I have the great blessing to walk on the same land our Lord Jesus walked when He came into this area right before His crucifixion which happens to be one of the most ancient places in Palestine as Biblical Ephraim with less than two thousand residents.

"Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim..." (John 11:54).

Actually, as a Greek-American, I have been in my husband's village since the early 90's. We returned to the Holy Land during promising times when Israel and Palestine wanted to make peace and leaders signed the Oslo Peace accords in front of the White House (1993). Currently, this is a frozen peace, but our new boutique wines from Taybeh made it to the United States, if you happen to be in Boston you can also purchase a Taybeh Beer, the First micro-brewed beer in the Middle East, and you might notice the "sun" in the logo which is the symbol of hope and a promising future for Palestine according to my husband David Khoury (Hellenic College '80). I am simply hanging out by his side and nagging him not to do what he is doing; totally opposite that famous quote, "behind every great man there is a great woman." Good thing, this guy did not switch me over since he lives in a land where Muslims take on five wives.

I had the great blessing this month of May to participate in the Hellenic College/Holy Cross Alumni activities and see classmates who we wish will become friends of Taybeh especially now that my husband built the beautiful eighty rooms at the Taybeh Golden Hotel. ( Thus, I reflected upon how in 1979, a Greek-American from Denver but born in Tripoli, Greece, meets the only non-Greek boy on campus because it was a total shock for my traditional old fashioned parents who wished and hoped I meet a nice boy who will be a priest. And, the same goes for my husband; his family desired that he marry a nice girl from his village where his grandfather was the parish priest at St. George Greek Orthodox Church where the indigenous Palestinian Orthodox Christians trace their roots to the Holy Apostles.

Anyway, not only did I miss out on marrying a nice Greek boy but it's too bad I missed President's Trump visit to Jerusalem this year. The fact that he spent 26 hours in Israel and only one hour in Palestine reflects the possibility of nothing changing on the ground for a while. It truly was a historic moment for the first president of the United States to visit the Holy-Life-Giving-Tomb of Christ at the Holy Sepulchre. I know he had a private tour by His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III.

Many people know that we are less than 1.3 percent Christians in the Holy Land. It is the only country that continues to have good relations among Christians and Muslims.

My husband's village does exist here five thousand years before the time of Christ and it sits on the highest mountain region of Biblical Judea and Samaria near Mount Asur. On a clear day from the highest hill in Taybeh you can see the magnificent Dead Sea, the Jordan valley, the mountains of Samaria, the mountainous desert of Judea and also Jerusalem . It is really amazing and spiritually rewarding to stare down at the same valley where St. Mary of Egypt is said to have spent over forty years of her life in solitude.

The village has five places of worship including the original St. George Greek Orthodox Church in ruins (built in the 4th century), the new St. George Greek Orthodox Church (rebuild in l929-1932), the Melkite Church (build in l964 but Melkite worship was founded in the village in 1869), the Roman Catholic Church dedicated to "The Last Retreat of Jesus" (inaugurated l971); a small monastery build by a monk and the Nasr Priestly House which includes a beautiful chapel reflecting fourteen generations of Fr. Constantine Nasr's family serving the Orthodox Christian Church.

The Taybeh village has always been under the protection of our patron Saint George who is also the patron saint of Palestine. We have been blessed not to have seen the destruction and bombings that have happened in nearby Ramallah and Gaza. For two thousand years this tiny little village has had the blessing to maintain a Christian presence in the Holy Land. When the village is placed under curfew, rarely, for only one day, most people wait with faith in God to see hope only in Christ. Does it sound strange to have seen so much bloodshed and terror that you can actually transcend beyond fear and anxiety and wait with faith in God? At the end, our final destiny is the Kingdom of God so we pray for God's mercy as we live without basic human rights. In the mean time we must walk with the Cross that God offered us and preserve our Christian roots in the land of Christ's Holy Resurrection. It is the only place in the world where you can say "Christ is Risen" every day!

And for us, five Hellenic College graduates in Taybeh, our non-violent action will continue with our unique way of inviting everyone out for a glass of Taybeh beer and promoting our historical and archaeological sites of ancient Ephraim under the umbrella of Taybeh Oktoberfest, September 16 & 17, 2017. Please come visit and do not be afraid. I wish that President Trump came half hour outside Jerusalem to see this different face of Palestine.












Dr. Maria Khoury

Dr. Maria Khoury

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