The story of the Middle East for 2014 is one of war and displacement, broken families and tireless aid workers and the rise of a new terrorist group.
A flurry of international actions favoring Palestinian statehood came within the last few weeks of 2014.
"Jewish, Arab, and Druze are coming together here to play football, which breaks down barriers between communities."
The Holy Land last week witnessed one more act of violence. The event accelerated the slide toward a complete breakdown of relations between Israelis and Palestinians and the start of a third intifada. In the tumultuous climate of today's Middle East, a Palestinian uprising would hold ominous repercussions for the region and the world, but most of all for the Palestinians themselves.
On Nov. 23, the Israeli Cabinet approved a new "nationality law" and sent it to the Knesset, Israel's parliament, for ratification. Immediately, a fierce constitutional debate broke out. Did the bill privilege Jewish ethnicity over democratic equality?
Bullet holes pepper the front windows of the old city council office and paramilitary police in armored jeeps patrol the main street in this mixed Muslim and Druze village in the Galilee region.
Two weeks ago, more than 40 people were injured in a brawl between the two communities, most of them by a grenade thrown into a group of Muslim rioters.
An Israeli policy of demolishing the homes of Palestinians who commit or are suspected of committing acts of violence against Israelis is exceptional cruelty.
All terror attacks are horrific, but ones that target people at worship are particularly so. Places of worship and people worshipping have historically been an unspoken red line for acts of violence. Ask Palestinians about Jewish terror attacks, and they will invariably refer to Baruch Goldstein's 1994 massacre of 29 Muslim Palestinians at prayer in the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.
Rioting in the quiet town of Cana was a symptom of the dangerous level ethnic and religious tensions have reached in the Holy Land.
The 18 U.S. bishops who conducted a 12-day prayer pilgrimage for peace in the Holy Land in September came away with new perspectives on the ongoing tensions in the Middle East, according to Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, N.M.
He was one of the bishops who visited many of the sacred sites of Judaism, Christianity and Islam during the trip.