Ancestral Journeys and Western Missions by Anita Damiani-Shanley

Like other Western colonial-settler experiments, for over 70 years, Zionists have been systematically erasing the culture and history of indigenous Palestinians to justify their forced removal and the theft of their land. Ilan Pappe, in his book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, calls this ‘memorocide’ and in The Palestine Nakba, Nur Masalha elaborates, 

“The founding myths of Israel have dictated the conceptual removal of Palestinians before, during and after their physical removal in 1948… The de-Arabisation of Palestine, the erasure of Palestinian history and the elimination of the Palestinian’s collective memory by the Israeli state are no less violent than the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians in 1948 and the destruction of historic Palestine.”

This is why books such as Ancestral Journeys and Western Missions are so vital in recording the memories and eyewitness accounts of Arabs and Palestinians who experienced the arrival of Western colonialists to the Middle East, were co-opted into their wars, witnessed the rise of Zionism and then became refugees in the Palestinian Nakba.  Anita Damiani-Shanley’s book will most certainly help perpetuate their heritage and rightful historic claim to Palestine.

Ancestral Journeys is however much more than the story of two families, one Arab and the other Scottish joined in marriage. It traces the influence of missionaries, archaeologists, traders and colonialists competing with each other for a share of the Near East as the Ottoman Empire met its demise. Richly illuminated with family photos, the three main chapters trace the ancestral journeys of Damiani-Shanley’s extended family from Scotland and Lebanon to Iraq and then to Palestine. A fourth chapter traces the role of the Anglican Church in Palestine.  

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Syria’s Lost Generation: The real cost of a decade-long war

This month marks 10 years since the start of the prolonged conflict in Syria that has displaced over 5.6 million Syrian refugees globally, with another 6.2 million displaced internally. At least half of Syria’s refugees are children, leaving an entire generation knowing only war, destruction and extreme poverty.As parts of the country struggle to rebuild, Syrian children displaced by war are at the crossroads of adapting to new surroundings elsewhere around the world while maintaining a connection to their home and heritage and hoping for peace.

To hear some of their powerful stories and insights from others who have been on the front lines of this conflict, we invite you to tomorrow’s launch of “Syria’s Lost Generation,” the new original podcast series by FP Studios, in partnership with World Vision and the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) Foundation.

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Christian-Muslim Relations in Syria: Revd Dr Andrew Ashdown

Revd Dr Andrew Ashdown answers questions about his new book ‘Christian-Muslim relations in Syria: Historic and Contemporary Religious Dynamics in Changing Contexts’, published by Routledge.

Offering an authoritative study of the plural religious landscape in modern Syria and of the diverse Christian and Muslim communities that have cohabited the country for centuries, this volume considers a wide range of cultural, religious and political issues that have impacted the interreligious dynamic, putting them in their local and wider context. 

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Christian-Muslim Relations in Syria: Andrew Ashdown

“Offering an authoritative study of the plural religious landscape in modern Syria and of the diverse Christian and Muslim communities that have cohabited the country for centuries, this volume considers a wide range of cultural, religious and political issues that have impacted the interreligious dynamic, putting them in their local and wider context. Combining fieldwork undertaken within government-held areas during the Syrian conflict with critical historical and Christian theological reflection, this research makes a significant contribution to understanding Syria’s diverse religious landscape and the multi-layered expressions of Christian-Muslim relations. It discusses the concept of sectarianism and how communal dynamics are crucial to understanding Syrian society.

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Andrew Ashdown on Humanitarian Aid in Syria

The Revd Andrew Ashdown has been a frequent visitor to Syria. He shares his experience of the vital work being undertaken by local humanitarian agencies caring for the victims of the war in Syria, yet sadly, largely ignored by the international media. He compares this with the media attention given to the well-funded Western-backed White Helmets.

For more information see:

St Ephrem Patriarchal Development Committee (EPDC)

Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch (GOPA-DERD)

Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC)