Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Israel Detains 2 From Bethlehem U. Who Sought to Attend Meeting With Pope

Daily News Blog, May 13, 2009

Jerusalem — Two Bethlehem University faculty members were detained for questioning on Monday while on their way to participate in an interfaith conference here with Pope Benedict XVI, university officials told the Ma’an News Agency.

According to the officials, the two men were held after being denied entry to Jerusalem by Israeli authorities. Delegates to the conference included faculty members from the university, university alumni, and natives of the Bethlehem area of the West Bank.

Israeli authorities did not explain why the men had been barred, and the university said their experience was typical for its students and faculty and staff members, “many of whom navigate a maze of checkpoints, soldiers, and other structures of military occupation simply to be present on campus.”

Despite its diminished delegation at the conference, Bethlehem University received a special mention by the pope, who is visiting the Middle East. Praising local efforts at interfaith dialogue, Benedict noted the university’s “outstanding achievements” as examples of the “belief that our duty before God is expressed not only in our worship but also in our love and concern for society .. and for all who live in this land.” —Matthew Kalman

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